By Movie Dude | ARCHIVES
I was recently thinking! “How pitiful it is that the 83rd Academy Awards snubbed many black films of merit (For Colored Girls & Night Catches Us) that desired at least a mention?” Out of the dust of total jaded thinking comes a film to renew hope that 2011 is looking brighter for black films.
Documentary filmmaker Ava DuVernay‘s debut narrative feature I Will Follow is notable in that it portrays a world of black characters who are not involved in crime, hip-hop, or the Tyler Perry universe. This touching if insular drama about a woman grieving over the recent death of her aunt is well acted and incisively observed, although it’s ultimately too low-key to have much dramatic impact.
Black Cinema At Large is currently a Black film curation entity based in Oakland. After running a successful Black cinema blog with the same name – which at the time filled an urgent need for Black film talk – Black Cinema At Large saw the same need in the Hollywood system. Many quality films were not making it into mainstream theaters, regardless of how many awards they garnered on the film festival circuit.
Part of BCAL’s mission is to remove whatever blockages there are between the filmmaker and the public and have quality Black film shown to those who don’t have any access to them outside of the film festival circuit. The mission is also to enlighten that the Black experience is the human experience – that we have more in common as human beings than differences – and there is strength in numbers.
As part of this “it takes a village” philosophy, Black Cinema At Large is a member of AFFRM, the African Film Festival Releasing Movement. AFFRM, founded by writer-producer-director Ava DuVernay, is a network of Black film festivals that originally started in five cities and includes Urban Film World in New York, ReelBlack in Philadelphia, and the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles and the Langston Hughes Black Film Festival in Seattle. The organization releases quality independent African-American films through simultaneous limited engagements and has expanded into 22 cities, including Oakland. Black Cinema At Large is currently the only affiliate that is not a film festival.
AFFRM’s first nationwide release, “I Will Follow,” about a day in the life of a woman letting go of her own life and moving on, will have a one week engagement at the Metreon in San Francisco and AMC 16 Bay Street Theaters in Emeryville. The film stars Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Blair Underwood, Omari Hardwick and Beverly Todd.
I WILL FOLLOW is a tender, thoughtful, inspiring film about love, loss and the ties that bind. Written and directed by Ava DuVernay, this award-winning drama chronicles a day in the life of a grieving woman (Salli Richardson-Whitfield), and the twelve visitors who help her move forward in a brave, new world. The film is an official selection of AFI Fest, Chicago International Film Festival, RiverRun Film Festival and winner of Urbanworld Film Festival for Narrative Audience Award. It was named “The Best Film of 2010″ by BET.com.
The film’s central character is Maye (Salli Richardson-Whitfield), a Hollywood make-up artist who has spent the last year caring for and living with her dying aunt Amanda (Beverly Todd) in the latter’s Topanga Canyon home. Amanda, who we see in flashbacks, is a formerly prominent session musician who has recently succumbed to the illness for which she refused treatment, so Maye is faced with the task of clearing out the house and disposing of her aunt’s possessions.
Taking place over a single day in but one location, the film depicts Maye’s encounters with a dozen or so visitors, including Amanda’s estranged daughter Fran (Michole White); a resentful young cousin, Raven (Dijon Talton, of TV’s Glee); and Maye’s casual boyfriend Troy (Omari Hardwick), as well as various neighbors and workers.
BCAL stresses that much support is needed for this first film, as AFFRM is a grassroots effort with no commercial advertising. BCAL and AFFRM would like to stress that the release of the film is an entirely grassroots effort. There are no commercials, no billboards and no advertising, just word of mouth in the community and social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and the site you are reading right now. It is strongly encouraged that people go see the film and spread the word through friends, churches and other organizations they may be a part of. It is genuinely a movement and a wake-up call to Hollywood to reach outside of its archaic distribution system and to cease ignoring intelligent Black film.
I WILL FOLLOW GALLERY
Is I WILL FOLLOW gaining Oscar buzz?
For More Info on I Will Follow, Visit The Official Site www.iwillfollowfilm.com.
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