It’s been a big year in black film, but Shani O. Hilton points out over at Buzzfeed that there’s trouble with lumping this year’s black films — "Fruitvale Station", "12 Years a Slave", "The Butler", etc. — together:
…honoring the achievements of black filmmakers by declaring it "their" year does them a disservice. Lumping together heavy dramas with lighthearted romcoms simply because of the skin color of the actors or director prevents these films from being measured against the whiter counterparts that actually share their genre — inadvertently ghettoizing the former and protecting the latter from scrutiny. It’s difficult to imagine pulling, say, Blue Is the Warmest Colour, The Great Gatsby, The Hangover Part III, and The Fifth Estate into a story declaring 2013 the year of the "white movie."
If 2013 is notable for black filmmakers in any way, it’s that the models for distribution are more diverse than ever. [London black filmmaker Patrick Victor] Monroe’s smart script led Cumberbatch and his SunnyMarch production company partners to jump on board. The team launched a crowdfunding campaign, leaning on the actor’s name in an attempt to raise about $40,000 on IndieGogo — and ended up with nearly $140,000. (Monroe noted, "I wasn’t sure about using Benedict’s name to raise money — it just didn’t feel right to me — but Benedict was totally in to do it and to be involved.")
And not only that, according to Hilton, but we’ve also been here before:
The independent black film wave adds a layer of richness to an experience familiar to many black Americans. "Back in the late ’80s and ’90s, it was, ‘Spike Lee has a movie and we have to go see it — gotta go support it,’" said Malcolm D. Lee. "Now there’s a bunch of movies and talented filmmakers out there, and they’re getting their movies funded and they’re going to festivals — and that’s a beautiful thing for filmgoers, the popcorn filmgoer, and the search-out-the-arthouse-theater filmgoer."
It’s a compelling argument. Read more over at Buzzfeed.