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John Singleton Asks if a White Director Can Make a Great Black Film

John Singleton Asks if a White Director Can Make a Great Black Film

“Boyz n the Hood” writer-director John Singleton’s The Hollywood Reporter column wastes no time in illuminating what has thus far seemingly been “a banner year” for black-themed films.  

In naming some of 2013’s black-themed films and films to come that Singleton suggests should, hypothetically, inspire the optimism that “the success of any black-driven movie” will ultimately translate “into more jobs and stories about people of color,” the Oscar-nominated director has nonetheless armed himself with skepticism and concern. While endeavoring to not trivialize the success of films like “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and “Frutivale Station,” Singleton worries that the success of black-themed movies like “The Help” and “42” point to a trend: “the hiring of white filmmakers to tell black stories with few African-Americans involved in the creative process.”  

“What if the commercial success of ‘black films’ like ’42’ and ‘The Help,’ which also had a white director, are now making it harder rather than easier for African-American writers and directors to find work?” Singleton remarks as he fortifies his main point that white directors are not the problem, but rather that, “there was a time, albeit very brief, when heroic black figures were the domain of black directors, and when a black director wasn’t hired, the people behind the film at least brought on a black producer for his or her creative input and perspective.”

In a nutshell, the director laments that Hollywood execs need to realize that black-themed stories are uniquely American and thus have solid mainstream appeal but that making a black-themed film absent of black filmmaker participation is tantamount, “to cooking a pot of gumbo without the ‘roux.'”

For John Singleton’s full The Hollywood Reporter article here.

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