A tribute to the 2008 year in movies... he missed a few; but most of the biggies are here:
A tribute to the 2008 year in movies... he missed a few; but most of the biggies are here:
African-American Ralph Burton (Belafonte) becomes trapped for many days underground in a cave-in while inspecting a mine in Pennsylvania. Eventually, he digs his own way out. Reaching the surface, he finds a deserted world. Apparently everybody on Earth has been killed in a war.
Traveling to New York City in search of other survivors, he finds the city vacant. (Although the bridge into New York is jammed with abandoned cars, no bodies are ever seen.)
Ralph busies himself restoring power to a building where he takes up residence. He regularly broadcasts on the radio, listening for other people.
Just as the loneliness starts to become intolerable, he encounters a second survivor: Sarah Crandall (Inger Stevens), a white woman in her twenties.
They become fast friends, but Ralph grows distant when it becomes clear that Sarah is developing stronger feelings for him. Despite living in a post-apocalyptic world, he can't overcome the issue of race that pervaded society before the disaster.
Things become vastly more complicated when an ill Benson Thacker (Mel Ferrer), a white man, arrives by boat. Ralph and Sarah nurse him back to health, but once he recovers, the white man sets his sights on Sarah and sees Ralph as a rival.
It hardly ever happens this way. I get a DVD in the mail. I'm told it's an animated film directed by "a girl from Urbana." That's my home town. It is titled "Sita Sings the Blues." I know nothing about it, and the plot description on IMDb is not exactly a barn-burner... I carefully file it with other movies I will watch when they introduce the 8-day week.The stuff filmmaker dreams are made of...
I put on the DVD and start watching. I am enchanted. I am swept away. I am smiling from one end of the film to the other. It is astonishingly original. It brings together four entirely separate elements and combines them into a great whimsical chord.
I obtain Nina Paley's e-mail address and invite the film to my film festival in April 2009...
Viacom, Time Warner Cable strike dealAs I said, no surprise... there was too much at stake for a deal not to be reached. Everyone's happy... for now anyway...
After running past the initial midnight deadline and into 2009, Viacom and Time Warner Cable reached a tentative deal to keep MTV Networks' 19 channels on the MSO's 13.3 million households nationwide.
Although Viacom threatened to shut off the signal in Time Warner Cable's markets of New York, Los Angeles and elsewhere at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 1, Viacom granted a one-hour extension just before midnight ET Wednesday and the two sides announced they'd reached an agreement in principle soon afterward. The move avoided the looming blackout of MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, among other channels.
In a joint release, Viacom and TWC said they expected to finalize the details of the agreement over the next several days.
"We are pleased that our customers will continue to be able to watch the programming they enjoy on MTV Networks," TWC's president and CEO Glenn Britt said. "We are sorry they had to endure a day of public disagreement as we worked through this negotiation."
Viacom's president and CEO Philippe Dauman stressed the company's long relationship with TWC.
"We're happy to be renewing that partnership for the benefit of their customers and our loyal viewers," he said. "It's gratifying that we could reach an agreement that benefits not only our audiences but that is also in the best interest of both of our companies." The agreement followed a last-minute offer by TWC on Wednesday that was rejected by Viacom, which qualified it as "a pittance."
Viacom had been seeking about a 12% fee increase, or $39 million on top of the estimated $300 million it is paid by TWC every year. TWC had said it was no time, given the economy, to raise subscriber fees that would have to be passed on to consumers.
Christmas is over, but Viacom is still playing Scrooge, threatening to pull its MTV Networks off of Time Warner Cable at midnight tonight unless we ask our customers to pay exorbitant price increases.Story continues below...
Viacom claims their demands equate to “pennies,” but that is misleading and insulting to our customers, from whom Viacom is trying to extort another $39 million annually – on top of the hundreds of millions of dollars our customers already pay to Viacom each year. That doesn’t sound like pennies to us. Demanding that our customers pay so much more for these few networks would be unreasonable in any economy, but it is particularly outrageous given the current economic conditions.
We sympathize with the fact that Viacom’s advertising business is suffering and that their networks’ ratings have largely been declining. However, we can’t abide their attempt to make up their lost revenue on the backs of Time Warner Cable customers. We’ve negotiated in good faith and made several concessions to help reach a fair and reasonable deal. We’ve asked for an extension of the current contract while we continue to negotiate. But Viacom doesn’t appear to be interested in what’s fair and reasonable for American consumers – they’re only interested in propping up their sagging bottom line, and they are poised to pull their networks from Time Warner Cable customers tonight.
Huge price increases like what Viacom is demanding threaten the ultimate value of cable TV. Time Warner Cable is a retail distributor of products we purchase wholesale. Wholesale programming costs are rising dramatically every year, and, like all multichannel distributors, we have to pass on at least a portion of the increases to our customers. Viacom’s MTV Networks are just a few of the hundreds of channels we carry. If every channel demanded huge, double-digit increases like what Viacom is trying to force our customers to pay, it would be impossible to keep the price of cable reasonable for our customers.
Time Warner Cable has reached hundreds of distribution agreements with other networks. In fact, we currently have deals with every other cable programmer. The negotiations aren’t always easy, but we work hard to reach agreements that are fair to our customers and to both businesses.
We hope Viacom won’t pull the MTV Networks from Time Warner Cable customers, and we’ll negotiate up to the last possible minute and beyond. But ultimately, it is Viacom’s decision. We implore them to join with us to reach a fair resolution or grant an extension, and we hope they won’t carry through with their threat to take their networks away from our customers tonight.
It appears Time Warner Cable customer service was unprepared for the onslaught of complaints from subscribers flooding into call centers. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many reps were unaware of the dispute with Viacom, which began running news crawls below its programming that 19 channels would go dark on the cable system operation at 12:01 AM on January 1st. Viacom also placed full-page advertisements in some major market newspapers today featuring protests by its media programming characters, including Dora the Explorer who is shown crying because she is being taken away from her fans. The cable company says it is prepared to refund customers for the lost programming if a deal can't be reached by New Year's, though the amount hasn’t been determined yet.Story continues below...
This move by Time Warner Cable to force such channels as Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and MTV off the air is another example of a cable company overreaching for profit at the expense of its viewers.
The renewal we are seeking is reasonable and modest relative to the profits TWC enjoys from our networks. We have asked for an increase of less than 25 cents per month, per subscriber, which adds up to less than a penny per day for all 19 of MTV Networks’ channels. We make this request because TWC has so greatly undervalued our channels for so long. Americans spend more than 20% of their TV viewing time watching our networks, yet our fees amount to less than 2.5% of what Time Warner generates from their average customer.
Throughout the country, we have negotiated equitable license agreement renewals, or are in the final stages of renewals, with virtually every cable and satellite carrier. Nevertheless, Time Warner Cable has dismissed our efforts at a fair compromise and has effectively chosen to deny its customers some of the most popular TV shows on the air.
As a result, we are sorry to say that for Time Warner Cable customers our networks will go dark as of 12:01 on January 1st, denying Time Warner customers shows like Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, and The Hills.
Ultimately, however, if Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV and the rest of our programming is discontinued – over less than a penny per day - we believe viewers will see this behavior by their cable company as outrageous.
Time Warner Cable subscribers who are being handed a January 1st $3 monthly increase in Raleigh, Orange County, Los Angeles, and New York City are simultaneously facing the removal of beloved shows across 19 channels.
We find it a shame that Time Warner Cable remains unreasonable at this time. We hope its leadership will have a change of heart and will seek to negotiate a fair renewal agreement.
In response to your question on "Black Cinema"
The subject matter of the label "black cinema" and "black film makers" and whether these labels/definitions continue to be relevant in the 21st century. The other question posed was, does the concept of "blackness" or "what is black", also need be defined/redefined. Overall the concept of "blackness" itself seemed to be in question within the posed questions for future discussions.
I understand your angst over these subjects – but the truth of the matter is no people can escape their own history, nor can they reconstruct the consequential events created by that history. That however does not negate the desire to remove these historical "shackles" so that we can get on with simply being human beings. However, within the context of the cinematic milieu, if one is to create a cinema based upon one's own physiological construct, the ultimate question is can one escape from oneself.
Black people did not invent themselves as "black" with all its raging unrelenting connotations, historically or currently. Nor did black people create black cinema, or "race pictures", or "colored pictures", or "jungle music". Nevertheless, these concepts have stuck similar to the way the concept "nigger" has stuck. Put another way, in order to change poison to medicine, one must become an alchemist. Like taking chitterlings and making them into a delicious delicacy. It all boils down to how you present it.
Your question(s) feels like they are coming from someone carrying a heavy burden. I mean, for example does this conversation also apply to the "Japanese cinema", or the "Indian Cinema", or the "Italian Cinema". And if not, why not? While I understand the "burden" (if that is an appropriate description) of re-defining what "black cinema" or "African American Cinema", or "African Cinema", or even "American Cinema", what all these turns mean within the body politic of cinema overall. The power of the cinematic image and its influence on the human physic cannot be denied or underestimated in it's various agendas, both historically and currently. For example, the fact that no black male hero film has ever received an academy award, speaks volumes to this discussion of blacks in American cinema. While both, "Malcolm X", and"Ali" received nominations, neither was awarded. However, subsequent awards were given to Washington for portraying lesser characters.
Again, while this topic of the relevancy of the term "black", including the first "black" president of the United States, all have a direct link to the history of a country and a people. These realities are undeniable. How this generation of black filmmakers struggle with these realities remains to be seen. However, I encourage each one to endeavor to discover the power in the word "black" rather than to feel limited by it. While I understood Gordon's (Parks) position on black filmmakers being able to make films about Russians, and whomever else. However the old philosophy that insists that the best stories are those told from one's own experiences, still rings true. That does deny the universality of the human experience; nevertheless it is the authentic spirit that shines through a story told from the authentic self. That self is truly the thing in question here is it note, the question you've pose concerning the relevance of the term "black cinema".
There was a time when black people could not even feel good about having their photographs taken because of their retched life conditions. And than along came James Van Derzee, a "black photographer" whose photographs redefined who black people were. He found the beauty and the power in the black image.
I challenge young aspiring African American filmmakers to not only embrace being black, and begin to redefine what black cinema is. I challenge them to make incredible films about their life experiences, and about the world from their points of view. I challenge them be audacious enough to say that being black is still relevant in the 21st century, and to not succumb to illusion of being something other than who they are. They are Africans in America, and until the world rids itself of the atrocities of in humanity towards "colored people', or is "people of color", or "people of non-color", which ever physiological spin fits the current vogue, at the end of the day it is what it is.
Perhaps your next quarry will be, 'how do we turn make black cinema the new cinema in America. Perhaps someone should ask the new black President that question. In case you haven't noticed, black is in, at least in the White House.