Among the more quietly galling aspects of Fruitvale Station is the pervasive sense that, shorn of its tragic narrative bookends, it would still make a fine, and all too rare, slice of black-focused, low-key drama in its own right. The keen observation and laidback aesthetic of its opening hour recall Charles Burnett’s wry My Brother’s Wedding (1983).
Respectfully considering the events unfolding in Ferguson, MO, in response to the shooting of Michael Brown (as well as the investigation of the death of Eric Garner in New York) I'm posting what I feel is an exceptionally sensitive review of Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station (2013) written by Ashley Clark. Back and forth over cinema might seem unimportant in comparison to the graphic realities of death, grief, injustice and upheaval unfolding on TV and via cellphone imagery. But I was reminded by the happenstance of reading the article (with CNN talking autopsies in the background) about the difficulty with, resistance to, or refusal of identification by white audiences with black protagonist in films--whether conscious or unconscious--which James Baldwin addresses in "The Devil Finds Work".
I guess what I'm thinking rather awkwardly, is that if white viewers, readers, and consumers of stories were compelled to participate in the activity of suspension of disbelief in order to identify with black stories and characters-- projecting themselves freely in works of popular culture by artists and producers of color, then wouldn't it follow that white people would by able to imagine and regard "the Black" as Baldwin puts it, as fully human in real life? To regard the Other instead as young guys--teenagers--kids from around the neighborhood, a brother, daughter or a sister or a son.
I mean it's a whole longer project for me and it's always been my project, of course whether I call it representation or inclusion or whatever. I'm never very explicit here or on FB because I use these platforms primarily to entertain. But I watch "white" movies all the time...lots of black people do--there are not huge options (a problem suggested in the review) right—? And so, the ability and the pleasure of projecting oneself into stories or characters isn't a really an issue. We just do it--so what is the problem?
“The root of the white man’s hatred [for black men] is terror, a bottomless and nameless terror, which focuses on the black, surfacing, and concentrating on this dread figure, an entity which lives only in his mind.”
I wish this trailer was more reflective of the material between the bookends...
I'm thrilled to be included in this wonderful project and am So excited for the Red Carpet event TONITE! I'll be on the panel starting 7pm!
"All summer long Harlem neighbors have been checking out, commenting on, AND RATING the independent video works of 32 super
fly contributing artists of
The People's Laundromat Theater... NOW the
time has come for the Grand Finale, a Red Carpet style party and
screening where EVERYONE is a V.I.P.!"
(bring it Playa!)
-Taste by SheChef -Sounds by DJ NessDigital -VIP Style by Sureme -Swag by the PLT community
-And Top Rated video works as judged by community visitors to the Clean
Rite Center Laundromat on Lenox & 129th and The Schomburg Center
for Black Culture and Research
Red Carpet Begins at 5, culinary delights and gourmet movie snacks, and Live DJ til 7--
Screening program begins at 7pm sharp.
The Q&A portion will include a panel of the below individuals, co MC’d/moderated by Shani Peters and Petrushka from The LP.
Ariel Jackson, Contributing Artists, Project Editor/Assistant Ina Archer, Contributing Artist, Film reviewer and preservation advocate Ivan Forde, Contributing Artist, Neighbor Robin Cedeno, Neighborhood Participant
The People's Laundromat Theater is a 2013 Create Change project by
Harlem Public Arts Resident Shani Peters. Create Change is developed
and supported by The Laundromat Project, a public arts organization. http://laundromatproject.org/create-change.htm
For your reading pleasure, my review of the NYAFF at Film Comment's online magazine!
Along with daffodils, sunshine, and graduations, a sure sign of spring is the arrival of the New York African Film Festival, founded and programmed by executive director Mahen Bonetti. The 19th edition arrived at the Film Society of Lincoln Center with the hallmarks of the season: color, freshness, warmth, and variety, with hopes for renewal and contemplation of what’s past...Read more