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Thursday, August 30, 2007

As Tom Hall points out, outside of the Generation DIY series, there are a couple of Mumblecore movies with significant minority presence

It's morning in DC, just getting my day started, so I will flesh this post out later today with links & names.

In the meantime there is some important info. to communicate; at a long conversation me & Tom Hall are having at the comments in this blog (see recent post re: '06 Swanberg quote) & AJ Schnack's blog, Tom has pointed out that beyond the Mumblecore films at IFC Center's Generation DIY series, there are a couple of other Mumblecore films that do have significant minority presence. He points to Aaron Hillis's (sp?) Mumblecore chart at Cinephiliac (link later) & reminds us that David Gordon Green's film Goerge Washington featured a young African-American actor in the main role, and also that the film In Between Days was directed by an Asian American director and features an Asian lead.

Also, as I've said at several times, of the films at Gen DIY series, Bujalski's Mutual Appreciation does feature a significant minor character (the radio DJ at the begining of the movie) who is played by a minority actress.

OK, off to get more coffee and wake up more, will be back on this topic later; will add more details to this post.

Further, Mike Tully and David Lowery may have been trying to communicate the same info. that Tom did; in recent e-mail & comment section discussions.

My recent post (the "100 million minority" one) that started this conversation was primarily about the lack of minority presence both in front of & behind the camera in Mumblecore movies in the Gen DIY series at the IFC Center - the event that has received the most mainstream and indie film media attention since the start of the Mumblecore movement.

- Sujewa

5 comments:

cccwong said...

Sujewa,
Thanks for being courageous (and frustrated) enough to speak out on the continuing lack of diversity among today's filmmakers and casts. One would think that the indie world would be more quick to respond positively to your constructive criticism and ponderings. But some things never change. I posted a response at AJ's website (to his posting on Mike Tully's response). Keep up the good work, Sujewa!

Btw, I've taken the liberty of reposting my response here in case anyone doesn't want to search around AJ's blog:

"I can understand Mike Tully's frustration at being lumped into the M-core movement, and his defensiveness in being "accused" of working only with white actors. On some level it doesn't seem quite fair to him since none of us know exactly what goes into his artistic process.

At the same time, Tully's sarcastic post does reveal something that should prove equally frustrating to minority viewers/filmmakers who long to see a truer picture of what the world really looks like (i.e. a world filled with light AND dark skinned people...)

Tully chooses to use COCAINE ANGEL as a shining example of how he is not one of the M-core members with a 100% white cast. But then he goes on to say that neither of the 2 leads were filled by any of his 3 black actors. Furthermore, the subject matter of his film (drug addiction) is one in which black actors have never "struggled" to get supporting roles. One hopes that Tully did not do what so many of his indie (and Hollywood) compatriots have done by automatically including black faces when cocaine is the issue. But either way, Tully's casting decisions do not stand out as particularly courageous or distinctive.

What I wish white filmmakers like Tully (and Swanberg et al) would do is not become defensive and list off all the ways in which they are more diverse than they seem. Instead, when the minority community says something like Sujewa wrote, they should understand that there is a deep (and valid) frustration with the status quo in which the industry recognizes films with white leads and white casts 99% of the time. It's not enough to say: "Hey, in my last film I cast a black actor who played a supporting role to my two white actors..."

It's always the responsibility of those in power to play a part in changing unequal systems. White filmmakers (M-core or not) need to step up and recognize that if they are not part of the solution, then they are indeed part of the problem. It's not enough to say: "I only have white friends and relatives, and I live in a mostly white area of town, so I'm just going to tell the stories of what I know..." To that, I would say "Wake up, look at the changing culture around you, dare to make some friends with people of color, expand your horizons and fight with your producers to cast minorities in your films." Is this easy? No. Is it your responsibility? Yes."

The Sujewa said...

Hey Chris,

Thanks for the comment here & at AJ's blog. Very nice to have you join the discussion.

- Sujewa

Tom said...

Just wanted to say it's nice to be able to have an open minded and courteous discussion on this important issue. Thanks for facilitating.

Best,
Tom

Anonymous said...

I found Stephanie Allain's comments very telling in today's HR.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/film/features/e3i6c73060cbd03d818102dd0dfa57047ae

The Sujewa said...

Tom,

No problem. Good to debate/discuss important matters.

But do chill out on the assumption of dishonesty - the type of thing that you closed one of your comments to me at AJ's blog - not healthy for a good discussion.

- Sujewa

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