Covering Cinema From All Across The African Diaspora

Keke Palmer & Ice Cube "Comeback" - White Control/Black Images (A Question)

Hmmm... this looks somewhat promising - thanks in part to the fact that it tells a young black girl's story, something which we rarely experience on screen. Although the choice of director, Limp Bizkit's frontman-turned-director, Fred Durst, is a curious one. This is his second directorial effort. His first was a film released last year titled, The Education of Charlie Banks, which I didn't see, and don't know much about.

This raises a worthwhile question - one that I've discussed previously on my podcast - the question being, whether a film like this, about a young black girl, is one that should be helmed by a black woman/man director, as opposed to a white man (Fred Durst) in this case.

I should also point out that the screenplay was written by a pair of white men as well.

So, once again, we have a film that tells the story of black people written and directed by white men - as we've seen numerous times previously - most recently, in the case of Robert Johnson's Our Stories Films Inc, and it's 2 releases thus far, Who's Your Caddy? and the upcoming, Mission Intolerable. Granted those 2 films aren't exactly notable, worthwhile productions that would call for black talent behind the cameras, but what can't be dismissed so readily is the obvious lack of blacks in those off-camera positions. So one would expect that when an opportunity arises to produce films that tell the stories of black people, regardless of how inconsequential or fluffy the pieces might be, the producers of those films will go out of their way to hire available black talent to place at the helm of each production.

Obviously, I'm not saying that choices like this must be solely race-dependent. Whites have and can direct films about non-whites, as can blacks write/direct films about non-blacks - as well as Latinos, Asians, etc... In an utopian world, none of this would matter. But, alas, we don't live in a utopia, so color does unfortunately matter, and can't be wholly ignored. One has to consider what the overall lasting effects of some of these choices are. On the surface, it might seem somewhat trivial to even have this discussion, but any thinking person (and we are all capable, thinking people) should be able to see what might lurk beneath the covers.

Granted fictional films like some I mentioned aren't necessarily race-dependent, meaning the characters could be played by actors of any color or ethnicity, making that the only difference in what the audience sees in the final product. However, one could argue that having people of color on screen is itself a powerful, political move, regardless of the story being told, and any opportunity given to tell stories about people of color should indeed be handled with a certain sensitivity that might only be innate in a writer/director specific to the race of people in front of the camera.

I should also point out that the Fred Durst directed film in question is based on a true story.

Regardless, I can only hope that the end product in this case is a well-made, interesting, complex, entertaining film.

This is an ongoing discussion, and I'm sure it will come up again from time to time, possibly with no real eventual solution... if a solution is even necessary.

Your thoughts are welcome.

Read on...

Palmer joins Ice Cube’s pic

The Hollywood Reporter reports that Keke Palmer (Akeelah and the Bee) has joined Ice Cube in his untitled inspirational sports drama for Dimension Films.

Palmer will play Jasmine Plummer, the first female quarterback in Pop Warner history, who with her teammates draws support from her uncle (Ice Cube) and members of their Illinois town when the team plays in the Pop Warner Super Bowl.

Tasha Smith (Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married?), Jill Marie Jones (The Perfect Holiday), Dash Mihok (Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang), Matt Craven (The Clearing) and Garrett Morris (Jackpot) also have joined the cast. Comedians Earthquake (Clerks II) and Michael Colyar (Norbit) also will appear in the film, which had been titled "Comeback."

Limp Bizkit frontman-turned-director Fred Durst is directing from a script by Doug Atchison.

Nick Santora, who wrote the original screenplay, is producing with Ice Cube and Matt Alvarez (Are We There Yet?) through their production company Cube Vision.

Production began in December in Shreveport, La.

Palmer, whose credits include Akeelah and Madea's Family Reunion, next appears in the crime drama Cleaner, which stars Samuel L. Jackson and Ed Harris.


  1. said...

    "the question being, whether a film like this, about a young black girl, is one that should be helmed by a black woman/man director, as opposed to a white man (Fred Durst) in this case."

    I'm not sure why I'm commenting. My opinion on this is not fully formed. I guess my basic answer is as long as the director or writer is TRUE to the material.

    I see your point and understand the validity of the questions it raises.

    As far as the Ice Cube thing...

    I have nothing to say, really.

  2. UK Black Chick said...

    Hmm.... I guess whether having a white person helm what, visually, would appear to be a black story is a good idea or not would depend on the way said story is handled.

    One would like to think that, given the generally rather negative, stereotypical or inconsequential slant that Hollywood has tended to put on the portrayal of black characters in its films over the past 100 years, a black director and crew would handle a 'black story' with more sensitivity...

    Robert Johnson's Our Stories, however, might prove otherwise, so maybe my premise would apply only to 'serious' independent or arthouse movies...

    Or maybe not, as David Gordon Green's portrayal of black characters is exemplary, on a par with notable black filmmaker Charles Burnett. Both Green and Burnett display the ability to tell stories involving black characters so that the 'black experience' can be seen as being very much a universal, human experience. Speilberg's The Color Purple and Jonathan Demme's Beloved, also spring to mind.

    So I guess we have to take things on a wait and see, case by case basis.

  3. UK Black Chick said...

    " Robert Johnson's Our Stories, however, might prove otherwise, so maybe my premise would apply only to 'serious' independent or arthouse movies... "

    I've just remembered that Our Stories doesn't make films helmed by black director, crew, writers...

    So you can scratch that paragraph from your memory.

  4. The Obenson Report said...

    @ TBA and UKBC - it's a tricky topic. I don't have a definite answer. My motivation mostly is to see more non-white writers and directors given opportunities, especially when the stories being told are about people who look, and have lived like them.

  5. Wendy said...

    @ TOR: I agree. I'd love to see more black writers and directors telling diverse, interesting black stories. However, we can't exactly stop white directors and writers from doing black stories, especially if they're called upon by black production companies!!

    I think that the low budget, independent route is the most obvious route for black directors and writers at present... Which, of course, raises the problems of how these projects can be funded...

    It all comes down to the almighty dollar - and even black folks don't trust each other with money, so what hope from ol' whitey?

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