With the righteous success that certain filmmakers of color have found this past year (you had already won in our hearts, Moonlight, and it’s so nice to have it confirmed), it’s easy to forget exactly how heavily the deck is stacked against marginalized people in Hollywood and the rest of the cinematic world.
According to the Directors Guild of America, just 12.5 percent of working directors who released a feature across 2013 and 2014 were people of color (out of a sample size of 376 released features), and just 1.6 percent of that already astonishingly low number were directed by women of color. Hell, only one woman has ever won a Best Director Oscar, out of a total of four who have been nominated in the entire 90-year history of the Academy. An African-American woman has never been nominated.
Needless to say, representation is a tremendous issue, but you have an opportunity to elevate and magnify the work of some incredible artists this week at The Brattle. In conjunction with the Roxbury International Film Festival and The Color of Film, the Cambridge theater is putting on a new repertoire series, “In Our View,” highlighting the underseen directorial works of African-American women.
Starting Thursday (December 8) with Ava Duvernay’s utterly stunning Selma, there’ll roughly be a week featuring some of the most interesting cinema you’ll watch all year. For instance, on December 9, you’ll have the chance to see a double feature of Gina Prince-Bythewood’s Love and Basketball (which, honestly, should be reason enough for you to get out there) and her later work, the drastically underseen Beyond the Lights, which was one of the best movies of 2014. There’s Dee Rees’ 2011 feature Pariah, about a lesbian teenager coming to terms with her sexuality despite her parents’ objections, and it is essential viewing if you liked her most recent work, the incredible Mudbound.
After that we get to my personal favorite double feature of the week on December 12, which has both Kasi Lemmons’ absolutely entertaining and wonderful Don Cheadle spotlight, Talk to Me, a biopic about D.C. radio host “Petey” Greene and her tremendously bizarre Caveman’s Valentine, which if you haven’t seen, you really should.
It’s about a homeless and schizophrenic Samuel L. Jackson trying to solve a murder case to regain the trust of his estranged daughter, a police officer assigned to the case. It was a fixture back in the heyday of the Sundance Channel, and it’s nice to see it getting the big-screen tribute that it deserves. Finally, the whole thing wraps up on December 14, with an extremely rare screening of the Boston-set, Kerry Washington-starring Lift (directed by DeMane Davis), in which Washington plays a professional shoplifter who turns to crime to get away from her dysfunctional family. It was shot in Roxbury, too, so it’s an awesome glimpse into turn-of-the-century Boston life as well.
That’s a cursory summation of the films showing this week. There are plenty of other options as well throughout the series, and you should check the Brattle’s calendar for the full list of titles. So, don’t fuck this up, y’all. Go out and celebrate these filmmakers now and buy tickets to their movies when they come out, because things have got to change.
IN OUR VIEW :: Friday, December 8 through Thursday, December 14 at The Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle St. in Cambridge, MA :: Various times, all ages, $13 for the public and $11 for Brattle members :: Advance tickets :: Beyond the Lights still provided by moviestillsdb.