GOOD DAY TO BE BLACK AND SEXY (Directed by Dennis Dortch)
Six interconnected vignettes unfold in a single day in Los Angeles, capturing a series of intimate moments between Black couples that have reached their boiling-points. One couple finds themselves in the middle of an erotic tug-of-war between the sexes; a girl faces the limits of teen sexuality in questionable situations; and interracial taboos keep a boy locked up in his girlfriend’s room. Compelling performances are foregrounded with gorgeous hues and innovative cinematic style that evoke a ’70s aesthetic and permeate the senses with strong, witty and unabashed voices.
Dennis Dortch’s ambitious and daring directorial debut played to packed crowds at Sundance 2008 and had its theatrical release in Los Angeles last December. While it has been compared to Spike Lee’s 1986 She’s Gotta Have It in its provocations around Black sex and sexuality, Dortch’s film pushes the frame by whizzing past overdone stereotypes about Black sexuality to explore the nuances of desire and emotion in all their complexity and humor. Updates and trailers can be found at theblackandsexymovie.com.
I( LIKE IT LIKE THAT Directed by Darnell Martin)
Lisette Linares has an adoring husband, Chino, and three cute little rowdy kids—but a girl also needs some space for herself. When Chino goes to jail after a blackout night of looting, financial troubles move her to break with macho expectations of a woman’s role and look for a job. With her trans sister’s help, Lisette lands an opportunity to develop the creative independence she’s been craving, until rumors start flying that pit her against Chino.
An upbeat soundtrack and fluid cinematography present a fresh take on a bustling Bronx neighborhood in the early 1990s that eludes clichés of “the hood” or the struggling Latino-Black couple. Dubbed the first Black woman to direct a major studio film (and at the age of 27), director/writer Darnell Martin faced a number of struggles with Columbia Pictures around the content of the film and its advertising. This might have something to do with why, despite critical acclaim at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival for its strong vision and earnest humor, and Lauren Velez’s standout performance, this film has not yet become the classic it ought to be.
SALT OF THIS SEA (Milh Hadha Al-Bahr) (Directed by Annemarie Jacir)
Brooklyn–born Soraya, played by renowned Palestinian-American spoken word poet Suheir Hammad, travels to Palestine to retrieve her family’s savings after her father’s death. After being subjected to relentless bureaucratic and racist obstacles, from the border patrol to banking policies, Soraya concocts a plan of poetic justice after which there is no return. As she and two Palestinian friends set forth on a journey to reclaim what has been stolen from them, Soraya viscerally experiences the full force of the history and present-day realities of 60 years of Israeli occupation. As a definitive voice of second-generation Palestinian Americans, director/writer Annemarie Jacir explores the difference between strategies of resisting Israeli imperialism from the diaspora and in everyday life in Palestine.
Color-saturated cinematography of lush Palestinian land set to evocative music makes palpable the yearning for a repossession of a people’s homeland. For updates and trailers of the film, which debuted at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, go to philistinefilms.org.
Roya Rastegar is an associate programmer at the Tribeca Film Festival, a curatorial fellow at the Whitney Museum ISP and a doctoral candidate at the University of California at Santa Cruz.