At yesterday’s “Diversifying American Cinema” panel, which I moderated at the Tribeca Film Festival, I began by discussing a survey that indieWIRE has published on the topic. (As I mentioned last week here in the blog, I polled a group of indie film community insiders on the subject of ethnic diversity). In talking about the article, I read a comment from an indieWIRE reader who wrote:
I am a 19 year old African American filmaker, and I first contributed to the film world when I was sixteen. It is so sad that as a filmaker of color you have to worry about so much more, which can take away from your creative process.
I asked the panelists if they felt that same sense of ‘so much more’ to worry about as a person of color witiin the film industry. Their answers to that question, and others, underscored how diverse the viewpoints are within the small network of people of color who work in the movie business. This also comes across loud and clear in the indieWIRE survey on the subject. There is no consensus (and that’s ok).
While Lisa Gay Hamilton powefully advocated that we must seek ‘revolution’ within the industry, Peter Kang advised that talent can and will be recognized no matter what its color, Wayne Wang touted small successes in diversifying even one position on a film crew and Chris Eyre said plainly that he tries not to think the obstacles, focusing his energy on the steps ahead and moving forward.
I’ve had various responses to the article and panel over the past 24 hours, reminding me that there are no simple solutions. But most agree that its an important topic to be exploring further. My only frustration is that the vast majority of the 75 people I emailed on the topic never bothered to respond at all, not even to say that they were too busy to spend the time to answer the questions.
Pictured at yesterday’s panel (left to right next to me): filmmaker Wayne Wang (“The Joy Luck Club”, “Maid in Manhattan”),writer/performer Lisa Gay Hamilton (“The Practice”, “Beah: A Black Woman Speaks”) Fox exec Peter Kang and writer/director Chris Eyre (“Edge of America”).