THE OBENSON REPORT

Covering Cinema From All Across The African Diaspora

FYI: My New Site - Your Contributions Appreciated!

Several months ago, when I was still hosting a weekly podcast, and drunk with ideas of various things I could do to bring about change and generate excitement, defeating the malaise that seemed to be clouding progress within the realm of black cinema, one of those ideas was to create a website that listed screenings of films by and/or about people of the African Diaspora happening anywhere, anytime in the world. The intent was to build a kind of one-stop shop for anyone, in any city in the world, wanting to know where they can see the kinds of films of interest to them - Diaspora films specifically.

Over the last 3 years while producing my first feature film and running a now defunct black film distribution company, I met a lot of people complaining about the lack of awareness of Diasporic film screenings in their individual cities. There seemed to genuine interest in wanting to know how and where they could see the kinds of films that my distribution company planned on releasing into the marketplace. The general consensus was that many of these "smaller" films likely wouldn't be seen at the local theatre multi-plex, nor even the so-called arthouse venues, leaving interested audiences wondering where they could be seen - a local cafe/lounge, a church, a screening at a college/university, a make-shift space with simple chairs, a digital projector, and a white bedsheet for a screen, someone's house/apartment???

Despite the recent shift to digitial distribution, there still appeared (appears) to be a genuine desire by many to experience cinema on a big screen, in a dark room full of lots of other people.

So, I thought it would be a good idea if there was a single website, accessible to anyone in the world (well, maybe except those in China) where information on Diasporic screenings occuring all over the world, will be available, sorted by city. Although, online screenings will be included as well, whenever possible.

I did a little research and didn't find a site like what I had in mind - of course, there could be one or several, and I may just not be aware of them. Regardless, I acted based on what my research told me, and a couple of days ago, finally decided to put something together that represented my original idea!

To start, I decided to use Blogger for the site (at least for now), just as I did with this site. I'm familiar with the simple user-interface, the site will show high on Google searches (since Blogger is a Google product), and, best of all, it's FREE!! :o)

In time, I'll likely relocate the site to its own host, but that depends on audience interest and participation. Also, I'm limited in terms of visual aesthetics, so, it's not the most attractive looking layout, but it'll do for now. I'm less concerned with how it looks and more with providing content - content that has proven to be a challenge to locate, which is where YOU come in!

I live in New York, so I'm familiar with most of the "microcinemas" in the city, and thus will likely have no difficulty in filling up the New York City screening calendar. But for other cities (globally) I'll need a lot of help - your help. No, I don't expect you to go out of your way to research screenings in your city, but if you happen to hear or see something that fits the site's mission, then please do pass it on to me, so that I'll post it on the site, and of course give credit when necessary.

I'm on the Internet quite a lot, discovering as much as I can, occassionally suffering from information overload, so you can guarantee that any screenings I come across will definitely be posted on the site, once I'm aware. But one of the eventual goals, as I've already said, is to have a site where anyone, anywhere in the world can access, click on a city link, and see what forthcoming Diasporic films will reach that specific city, their screening dates, times and venues, all listed in chronological order.

I have bigger plans for the site, but baby steps first... I want to gauge audience interest in the basic idea first, and then build from there if required!

The site's address is www.screeningsightings.com, which automatically redirects to the Blogger site. I registered several domain names I could use for it, but this one trumped the rest. It's really basic right now, as I don't have much content to put on it, but I'm hoping that will change in time, as I find out about more upcoming screening dates.

Check it out at your leisure.

Comments/suggestions are always welcome.

Cheers!

12 comments:

  1. Anonymous said...
     

    Bravo! This may even get me out to the theater on a regular basis...and a lot of other film lovers for that matter. I've already bookmarked the page Mr. O. Have a groovy weekend.

    - P

  2. UK Black Chick aka Wendy said...
     

    Finally!!

    :D

    I'll update you on London, as and when.

  3. theblackactor.com said...
     

    Goody

  4. The Obenson Report said...
     

    Thanks P!

    Thanks Wendy!

    Thanks TBA - maybe you could be my ATL "spy."

  5. Qadree said...
     

    I just found out about this short film:

    http://www.myspace.com/morningdue

    I don't think it's screening anywhere right now. It was at Cannes this year and since Cannes just ended you might want to keep an eye out for it.

  6. Invisible Woman said...
     

    Yay! Let me know what I can do if you need help in LA. :-)

  7. Qadree said...
     

    I think what you're doing is a good idea, but the more work I put into the content and structure of my new blog, the more I think about what people really want from a film blog or website.

    David Kehr did an interesting post that lists a few other links which discuss several issues related to running a film related blog, check it at http://www.davekehr.com/?p=17.

    When you say "there seemed to genuine interest in wanting to know how and where they could see the kinds of films that my distribution company planned on releasing into the marketplace", I am more than a little hesitant to believe many of the people who express those desires.

    You have an interest in these films and you manage to find them when they are being screened. I don't have much of a problem finding them when they are screened, and neither do all of the white people that make up the majority of the audience at these screenings.

    I really started to pay attention to this when some people that I knew were complaining about racism in movies and they asked me for some alternatives. I ended up giving them my "Sugar Cane Alley", "To Sleep with Anger", and "Killer of Sheep" dvd's. Over a month later these same people were gushing over some Hollywood movie with an all white cast and I asked them what they thought about the dvd's that I gave them. They hadn't watched them and sadly that didn't surprise me. I've had similar experiences when I've called or emailed people about screenings I planned on going to. The response is usually as if they didn't expect me to take them seriously and actually tell them about screenings.

    I think a lot of people say these things because it sounds good and it seems like it's the right thing to say. Most people can find the things that they really want. Rap music wasn't played on the radio had little to no formal marketing in it's early years, but I always new when a new album was coming out. According to search engines, porn is the most searched for content on the internet, but porn is never advertised except with other porn, yet people are finding it.

    Something that has bothered me about the blogs that focus on black cinema is the lack of substantial discussion about films. Of course, there are some serious people in the black audience, but it's not enough to support a movement. Most of the people that I see want to taken seriously, but they don't want to be serious. I think most people, while complaining about Hollywood, still want to be a part of it, the fanfare, glitz, and glamor. They don't want to turn away from that stuff in order to find what they are looking for.

    It think what you're doing is good, but I think you may have to do what I'm planning on doing, and that's to contact any and every person who has published a book or done research in the area of black cinema to see if I can get them involved in the discussions that I plan to have.

    Filmmakers, students, anyone who has a passion for cinema beyond the show of Hollywood is who I'm trying to appeal to first. I won't ignore the rest of the people but, I'm not going to abandon real discussion for them.

  8. The Obenson Report said...
     

    @ Qadree - I await your new blog with bated breath!

  9. The Obenson Report said...
     

    @ I.W. - I need help from everyone everywhere, so, by all means, send me info as info comes to you!

  10. UK Black Chick aka Wendy said...
      This comment has been removed by the author.
  11. UK Black Chick aka Wendy said...
     

    Hmm... Qadree makes some interesting and yet sadly honest points about what people think they should say they want and what they actually consume.

    :|

    Tambini, I wish you well with the development of your new site, regardless.

    :)

  12. theblackactor.com said...
     

    Qadree's comment (as are his comments all of the time) was very thought-provoking and... smart.

    As far as blogging, I suppose one should give thought to that which they wish to say vs. that for which there is an audience.

    Good points. And Ima check that Kehr link, too.

    Tambay: I can't. I won't go into all that here. I'd like to; but I can't. :(

    I'll be posting to that effect when I get a minute.

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