Covering Cinema From All Across The African Diaspora

Film Recommendation No. 1 - Battle of Algiers


I thought it worthwhile to start recommending Diasporic films that I consider required viewing for all. Here's the first of many. The Battle of Algiersreconstructs events that occurred during the Algerian war of independence from the French colonists, in the late 1950s.

It's difficult to start a revolution...
... even more difficult to sustain one...
... and still more difficult to win one.

One of my all-time favorite films... and certainly temporally apropos...

Angelina Jolie Is Not A "Person Of Color" - The NAACP Image Awards Strike Again!

I stopped taking the NAACP Image Awards seriously a long time ago - must have been when they gave the best actress award to Halle Berry in 2002 for her performance in SWORDFISH - you know, the film in which she bared her “mammaries” for some Caucasoid male - no, not the film which she won an Oscar for... the other one before it, which seemingly began a trend for Ms Berry. (NOTE: I have no qualms about black women baring their “mammaries” for Caucasoid men, as long as they do so willingly and doing so pleases them. I just can’t help but pay attention whenever I see it happen on screen. My reasons are many and varied, but mostly historically-based, as is often the case with anything in which race is a factor in this country).

Anyway... back to the NAACP Image Awards.

As I was saying, I stopped taking the NAACP Image Awards seriously a long time ago - or maybe it was after Queen Latifah won the gold for her "riveting" performance in BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE in 2004, beating out the aforementioned Halle Berry (nominated for GOTHIKA), Beyonce Knowles (nominated for THE FIGHTING TEMPTATIIONS) and the lovely Gabrielle Union (nominated for her daring performance in the masterpiece that was DELIVER US FROM EVA).

Yes folks, it's hard out there, not only for pimps, but for black actresses as well (the 21st century's endangered species it would seem). So, maybe it's not entirely fair for me to dismiss the NAACP, considering the dearth of worthwhile performances by black talent (in this case, black actresses) in this country, and I should instead harass the performers for their inability to generate stronger platforms on which to showcase their skills.

I'm sure I could go up and down the ladder, looking for the "right" prong on which to hang the blame, but I won't.

Anyway... once again, back to the NAACP Image Awards.

As I was saying, I stopped taking the NAACP Image Awards seriously a long time ago. However, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the little bit of news I read this morning - the NAACP's list of nominees for its 2007 Image Awards (specifically, the list of performances of 2007 that the organization considers deserving). As I scrolled down the list, I chuckled quite a few times for various reasons, until I got to the list of best actress nominees to find Angelina Jolie's name listed in the first slot, for her performance in A MIGHTY HEART.


Now, per its own press releases, the NAACP Image Awards is "an award presented annually by the American National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to honor outstanding people of color in film, television, music, and literature." Notice I bolded the words "people of color." Last I checked, Angelina Jolie isn't self-identified as a "person of color." She may have adopted a few "colored" babies, but a "person of color" she is not - at least not within the confines of the widely accepted contemporary definition of the phrase. Her mother (who died last year) was French-Canadian and her father is of German and Slovakian ancestry.

I'm not a lover of labels, as I find them limiting and destructive, and I've read many an essay on the potential varying interpretations of the phrase (people of color); but again, in its most commonly used and accepted form, likely the NAACP's meaning in its use of the phrase, I think we can all agree that Angelina Jolie is NOT a "person of color."

I realize that Ms Jolie donned a little "black face" make-up to portray a real-life "person of color" in A MIGHTY HEART - at least, a person that our wonderful American government would classify as such, given her Dutch-Jewish/Afro-Latino-Cuban ancestry; although I don't know what box Mariane Pearl puts herself in, if any box at all. And maybe she doesn't have to; Maybe none of us should have to, right?

Alas, we don't reside in an utopian world, so we are forced to take part in these unfortunate little identity dances.

Regardless... or "irregardless" as I've heard some say... Angelina Jolie should NOT be nominated for an NAACP Image Award, in my not-so humble opinion, and I'm not quite sure what the NAACP's reasoning is for including her on their list. What would be even more discombobulating is if Ms Jolie won the NAACP award for best actress. Oddly enough, I already expect that to come to fruition when the awards are handed out on February 14th.

Worth mentioning are her fellow nominees in the same category: Halle Berry – THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE, Jill Scott – TYLER PERRRY'S WHY DID I GET MARRIED, Jurnee Smollett – THE GREAT DEBATERS, and Taraji P. Henson – TALK TO ME.

Anyway, as I started out saying... I stopped taking the NAACP Image Awards seriously a long time ago - actually maybe it happened after they gave their best picture award to LETHAL WEAPON in 1989... hmmm... yeah, maybe that was it!


"The Wire" Still Gets No Respect

I've never watched an episode of HBO's series, The Wire. Why, you wonder? Well, I don't watch much TV, and even if I did, I don't have cable TV, nor am I in any rush to make it a staple in my household of 1. It's too distracting. I have more important work to do.

However, I've heard nothing but grand things about the program, and will likely pick up the entire series on DVD, to catch up on all that I've missed to date. I'm ready to be impressed!

Despite not having seen the program, I still appreciate producer, David Simon's comments below (notably the last paragraph), and thought them worth sharing.

David Simon is white, by the way.

January 7, 2008

NEW YORK – HBO's “The Wire,” which opened its fifth season Sunday, has gotten little recognition in Tinseltown. Executive producer David Simon says that's fine with him.

The series has been acclaimed by critics and has a cult-like following – but has earned just one Emmy nomination in four seasons. Simon and George Pelecanos were nominated for writing in 2005 but lost.

“I don't give a (expletive) if we ever win one of their little trinkets,” Simon told Newsweek. “I don't care if they ever figure out we're here in Baltimore.

“Secretly, we all know we get more ink for being shut out. So at this point, we wanna be shut out. We wanna go down in flames together, holding hands all the way.”

Each season of “The Wire” has focused on a different aspect of the grit and blight of an American city in decline. Simon feels the show doesn't get credit for its diverse cast, nearly all of whom had no high-profile prior credits.

“Let me indict Hollywood as much as I can on this one,” Simon said. “We have more working black actors in key roles than pretty much all the other shows on the air. And yet you still hear people claim they can't find good African-American actors. That's why race-neutral shows and movies turn out lily-white.”

Blowing Off Steam In Unison

My sentiments on black cinema and what our collective response should be - very well expressed below...

Thank you for joining me in unison. I feel so much better now and hope you do as well.

Now let's actually do something about it, shall we??!!!!


Uhura Can Pull A Knife On Me Any Time She Wants!

My first blog of 2008! Do I hear champagne fizzing, balloons popping, women moaning and men groaning? That's what I thought.

Anywho... here's a quasi stream of consciousness piece I thought I'd share.

The Hollywood black actress du jour, Zoe Saldana (yes, it appears they can have only one at a time; we can't have too many popular black actresses taking good roles away from their Caucasoid counterparts; although Ms Saldana's "blackness" has been in question, since she's actually Latin American; although one can certainly make a reasonable argument that certain Latin Americans/Hispanics/Latinos are indeed Africans. I'm not sure what's PC these days, so I certainly hope I'm not offending anyone. Feel free to school me if necessary)... anyway... as I was saying, Hollywood "black" actress du jour, Zoe Saldana (notice "black" is in quotes) will be assuming the role of Lieutenant Commander Uhura in the upcoming, highly anticipated theatrical update of the popular Star Trek TV series from the 1960s. The film is slated to be released later this year, and is being directed by Lost creator (J. J. Abrams), on a $150 Million budget!

As you may already know, the role was initially played by the fabulously sexy (and black) Nichelle Nichols (ok, so some might say she's fairer skinned than most - or light-skinnededed, as some might say... or caramel-complected as others might say... but think of the era in which the series aired and you'll understand why). She's now 75 years old, and still looks quite ravishing!

BTW, did you know that the kiss she shared with Captain Kirk (William Shatner) in 1969 - I can't remember which episode - was the first interracial (black/white) kiss that ever aired on national television? Of course it had to be a white man kissing a black woman for it to be accepted by the flock, although it did cause quite a stir. However, imagine if Sidney Poitier stuck his tongue down Katharine Houghton's throat in GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER, in 1967? I should watch that film again actually. I don't think there's even a scene where they peck each other on the cheek. I could be wrong though.

Oh, and here's a humorous bit of related info - during the Comedy Central roast of William Shatner in 2006, Nichelle Nichols referred to their 37-year-old kiss, and said to Shatner, "Let's make TV history again... and this time you can kiss my black ass!" HA! MILFy and funny! Perfect combo!

Alright, I'll shut up now... I found this old clip of her from Star Trek at what maybe was her most ravishing moment... I especially dig her demeanor after she slaps Sulu and falls back onto the rail, as she utters the words, "I'm afraid I've changed my mind... again." YES! Freaking haute, I tell ya! Let's see Zoe Saldana pull off that kind of sexuality...

I'm feeling groovy today, and hope you all are too. It's going to be a good year. I can feel it :o)

Carry on...

And while you're at it, you should get yourselves one of these...


Episode 30 - The Obenson Report on Black Film / Cinema

Episode 30 - The Obenson Report on Black Film / Cinema
Sponsored in part by ActNow Foundation (Go To for info on screening and fundraising party this week)

Recorded Monday, January 7, 2008, 9PM
TRT 60 Minutes

A January preview of what's coming up on the podcast for the month of January (black actress showcase, discussion on 4 LITTLE GIRLS, Sundance wrap-up).
- Tambay lists his top 5 hopes and expectations for Black cinema in 2008. Listen to his list. What are yours?
- Robert Johnson strikes again with MISSION INTOLERABLE - another "white-wash," literally. A brief rant.

Got something to say? Call the show's voicemail hotline at 1-800-765-7249 and leave a message there; and if it's worthwhile, I'll play your message on the show. OR, email me you comments at