THE OBENSON REPORT

Covering Cinema From All Across The African Diaspora

CHA-CHING - Top African American Celebrity Earners



What's the point of these Forbes magazine "top earner"/"worlds richest"/"biggest spenders" list, other than to remind us of the ever-increasing gap between the super elite and the proletariat? Although some might say that they are encouragement for the 98% of us that have to battle for the remaining 50% of the worlds wealth that the top 2% don't own. This too could be you, if you just worked hard, and had a few lucky balls bounce your way.

Yeah. Sure. If you say so.

So, here we are again, a month into the new year, and Forbes reminds/encourages us yet again, with another list - the "Top Earning African American Hollywood Celebrity Earners" from June 2007 to June 2008.

And, no surprise, her Royal Highness, Oprah Winfrey is at the top of that list! I think she's been #1 for at least a decade, if not more. So, she deserves the "Royal Highness" title. The big "O" earned a whopping $275 Million in that 12-month period! Wow! That's approximately, $750,000 per day! Can you imagine earning $750,000 every single day you worked? At my current annual salary, it'll take me several years to earn that kind of money; but she banks that amount daily! Damn...

Oprah, if you read my blog, as I'm sure you probably do, can you toss me a day's worth of your earnings? Just 1 day. You won't miss it... not one bit!

Second on the list is, *gasp*, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson! Who woulda thunk it? I knew the cat was wealthy, but not this wealthy - so much that he's ranked second behind her Royal Highness. 50 took home $151 Million from June 2007 to June 2008. Just as I was, you're probably wondering what exactly earned him all the cash? Well, there's his G-Unit clothing line, his record label, he was in at least 1 studio film I last year, and has others in production; then there are his video games, and lastly, platinum albums. He's a business man, and it's obvious he's making some smart decisions with his money, and not carelessly throwing it all away like a few others did previously. So, good job keeping your ship afloat Mr Cent.

And lastly, 3rd of the list is, also not a big surprise, Madea's alter ego, Mr Tyler Perry, who deposited $125 Million in the 12-month period. The man is everywhere, as you all know well - TV, film, print, stage... what else am I forgetting? Of course, he recently cut tape on a new production studio lot in his Atlanta, GA homestead.

So, combining the earnings of all 3 stars, we get a total of $551 Million. Not quite enough to cover the $700 billion TARP bill; but probably enough to feed a small African nation for a year.

For some unknown reason, Forbes lists just the above 3 celebrities. Maybe a full list is forthcoming some time later; unless I just missed it altogether.

Watch the accompanying Forbes video below while I go figure out how I can make my first million:

FRIDAY FUNNIES - Barack Stars In "The District"



Who knew that the Newsweek magazine staff could actually be creative and funny! Certainly not me... then again, I'm not an avid Newsweek reader, so...


Anyway, browsing over their website earlier today, I stumbled upon this wonderful little online video series they've created called The District, which is essentially a spoof of several MTV-like reality TV programs like The Hills, The Real World, and others. I'm sure you're all somewhat familiar with those titles.

The kicker? The District asks the question: ever wonder what it would be like if the makers of MTV's hit program The City, made a reality show about President Barack Obama's first 100 days in office?

Well, wonder no more!


Newsweek gives a red, white and blue makeover to "The City," the goes-down-easy MTV reality show about beautiful people taking over Gotham. Follow (Whitney) Barack as he moves into sprawling new digs in (Gramercy) Northwest D.C, battles (machinating socialites) Republicans and plays host to a bitchin' (gallery) inaugural party in this installment of (girl-rock crescendo; pregnant pause)..."The District."

I. Am. So. There :o)

The first episode appeared on Newsweek's website earlier this week, on Monday, and a new episode will be available for viewing weekly. So, check back next Monday for an all-new episode of... The District.

Below is the first of many to come. Enjoy:



The fellow impersonating Obama's voice sounds familiar. I think it's THIS GUY.

EMAIL - One Response To My "Black Film Festivals" Post



My earlier post on black film festivals certainly generated quite a lot of comments, as well as private emails sent to me. Who knew it would be such a radioactive topic? I certainly didn't! So, reading all your comments and emails was refreshing and revealing.


As I stated in the original post, my intent was to generate discussion on the subject, and exalt those black film festivals that I thought were performing at a higher level than their counterparts. I didn't single out any individual festival for its failures and deficiencies.

However, that certainly didn't stop certain festival organizers, who shall still remain nameless, from sending me emails threatening to blacklist me from the industry, simply because they didn't care for my stance, or approach on the matter of the shortcomings of some of our black film festivals.

I initially planned on ignoring this festival organizer and their email, leaving them to continue living in the bubble that they've apparently tucked themselves comfortably away in. But, after pondering some more, I've instead chosen to share their email with you all, so that you can see just how shortsighted one festival founder and organizer can be.

The appropriate response to my post shouldn't be to threaten me, the author; that certainly doesn't do either of us any good. Frankly it reflects quite poorly on the character of the sender than it does on me, and that's rather unfortunate.


So... here's an email I received this morning, from one founder and organizer of an American black film festival. I removed the person's name, as well as the name of the festival, and replaced them with an "XXX."

Here ya go:

Tambay,

I must say that I find this poll to be very disappointing. And coming from a black filmmaker it is even more troubling. As the founder of the XXX Black Film Festival, and friend to most of the other black film festivals around the world, I know that all of us work very hard to present the programs that we do to provide black filmmakers with a platform to be seen by the public and courted by the industry. With that in mind, why would you post a totally subjective poll, and allow people from all walks of life able to chime in and denigrate the good name of these film festivals? You have no idea what the motivation is behind the people who post to the poll. Now if it were a poll of distributors chiming in on which film festivals are most helpful to them in acquiring project, that would be cool. But this poll I find to be quite offensive.

I am deeply saddened by this “editorial” effort and see absolutely no rhyme or reason for it other than another case of black people dumping on one another, and worse than that, a black filmmaker dumping on the people who are out there working day and night, for little or no pay, on behalf of black filmmakers. Shame on you!!!

Finally, why put yourself out there like that? Because we all have strong studio and industry support and friends, why label yourself as the foe of black film festivals? That doesn’t seem like a smart career move, but that’s just my opinion.

I will certainly share this with all the black film festival directors, studio executives, producers, journaliists, et. Al. that I am in contact with and ask that they write to you as well.

In light,

XXX

There ya have it folks! I'm certainly all for constructive criticism and conversation; there's no need to be condescending, dismissive, sly and threatening. It serves no purpose, and helps no one.

I didn't respond to this email, but, I welcome the author to contact me; and if they would like, I'll have them as a guest on my podcast, for a proper discussion.

Cheers!

FILM FESTIVAL - SXSW, "Goodbye Solo"



Once again... scrubbing the list of films from the recently announced SXSW Film Festival line-up, in search of any films starring black faces in front of or behind the camera... I found this... number 2 thus far (See #1, titled,
Sorry, Thanks).

It's called Goodbye Solo, the latest film from internationally-acclaimed Iranian American filmmaker Ramin Bahrani, responsible for the previously well-reviewed and received, Chop Shop, and Man Push Cart.

It premiered as an official selection of the Venice Film Festival last year (2008), where it won the international film critic's FIPRESCI award for best film; and it later had its North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, also in late 2008.

And for those of us in these United States, SXSW gets the honor of debuting the film next month, when the festival opens at its Austin, TX location.

So, what's it all about:

On the lonely roads of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, two men forge an improbable friendship that will change both of their lives forever. Solo is a Senegalese cab driver working to provide a better life for his young family. William is a tough Southern good ol‘ boy with a lifetime of regrets. One man‘s American dream is just beginning, while the other‘s is quickly winding down. But despite their differences, both men soon realize they need each other more than either is willing to admit. Through this unlikely but unforgettable friendship, GOODBYE SOLO deftly explores the passing of a generation as well as the rapidly changing face of America.

Ok. For a change, I'll withhold every impulsive, knee-jerk reaction I have to the above write-up. After all, I haven't even seen the film yet!

By the way, the name "Solo" in the film's title, is the name of the lead character, played by Senegalese actor, Souleymane Sy Savane.

Roadside Attractions already owns theatrical rights to the film for stateside audiences, and will release it in limited release on March 27th, right after SXSW closes it doors for the year.

Its IMDB page lists theatrical distributors in several other countries - mostly in Europe and South America.

Here's the trailer:

THURSDAY FUNNIES - Christian Bale Rant Parodies

Haha! As expected, several parodies of Christian Bale's rant while on the set of Terminator Salvation have popped up on YouTube and other online video sites.

In the first clip, Steven Colbert has some fun with it all, playing the part of Bale, while Steve Martin was on the receiving end of his vileness.



In the second clip... before he was The Dark Knight, Christian Bale was Bill O’Reilly’s stage manager on Inside Edition. Check it out below:



In the third bite below, the creator, who goes by the name of RevoLucian, mixed Bale's voice to a dance track, and titled it Bale-Out. Get it?

It's been up on YouTube for a couple of days and has already generated over 1.3 million views!

It's actually fairly well done, and I had a good laugh listening to it - especially with the various images of pretty boy Bale's grinning face rotating onscreen.



I'm waiting for someone to create a tee-shirt that reads, "Seriously man, me and you, we're fucking done professionally!" I think that's going to be a quote of the year!

HA!

FIGHT - Lionsgate & Weinsteins Fight Over "Push"



Must be nice to be fought over... must be nice to be wanted so badly that the people fighting over you are willing to take each other to court for the right to own you...


I first read about this yesterday but forgot to post an entry about it.

I reported last week that Lionsgate had purchased rights to Push, Lee Daniels' adaptation of Sapphire's novel of the same name, for roughly $5.5 Million - the heftiest Sundance acquisition this year. If you recall, both Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry were said to have committed themselves to ensuring the film's release.

Well... not so fast my friends...

The story, according to The Hollywood Reporter, goes as follows:

Lionsgate and the Weinstein Co. on Wednesday filed dueling lawsuits against each other over Sundance hit "Push," throwing into question who owns distribution rights to the urban drama.

In its suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Lionsgate claims that TWC does not have "any right, title or interest" in the picture, which won both the grand jury and audience drama prizes in Park City, and is seeking a judge's declaration to that effect.

Several hours after word surfaced of the Lionsgate suit, Weinstein Co. reps said the company had filed its own suit against both Lionsgate and sales agent Cinetic Media for breach of contract and inducing breach of contract. TWC argues there was a contract in place for the New York company to buy the movie.

"TWC reached a firm agreement for the rights to "Push." Behind their backs Cinetic Media tried to make a better deal with Lionsgate. Lionsgate was well aware of the TWC contract but went forward anyway," said Bert Fields, who along with David Boies is repping TWC.

The moves were seen as an attempt by each side to stake out jurisdiction. Often in cases featuring identical parties and issues, the case will be heard in the venue where the first lawsuit is filed; this instance is murkier, however, since both lawsuits were filed on the same day.

So, there ya have it! What all this tells me is that all the reports one usually reads about film acquisitions at festivals like Sundance should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt.

So, don't believe everything you read. Reports of big sales like those we read about
Push and others, are likely released by the purchasing companies a bit prematurely, with the intent to stimulate conversation, and in turn, excitement from people like us. And they are usually successful, since we did, and still are talking about both films! Who knows just how accurate some of those figures really are?

However, frankly, I'd rather have Push in Lionsgate's hands. The Weinsteins have a history of buying films and sitting on them - like a child getting excited about a new toy, but then quickly forgetting it exists when a new one arrives.

But, as long as the film is eventually released, I'll be pleased.

Stay tuned...

via THR

POLL - Rating Black Film Festivals; Your Participation Encouraged!



I'm challenging black film festivals in this post...

But let me start by saying that I haven't been to every single black film festival in the country; so, my thoughts and words are based on my experiences with those that I have been to. This post isn't meant to inflame, but rather generate conversation. And, ultimately, it's just one person's opinion. I do list my favorite black film festivals towards the bottom of this post, so I'm not referring to all of them.

In previous years, I was a frequent attendee and supporter of several American black film festivals. However, my enthusiasm for the collective bunch gradually waned after successive years of disappointing performances from a few of the more prominent names in the group, attributed mostly to 2 things:

1. A weak selection of films, often uninspiring, unchallenging, and lacking in much artistic will;

2. Disorganized program staff, which influences several pieces of the floundering whole, in overwhelmingly negative ways, often dissuading potential attendees like myself from patronizing the event after the first trial.

Number 1 isn't entirely the fault of each festival; although, in the past, some decisions made by certain festival programmers on films accepted and/or rejected, have left me scratching my head, perplexed. The emphasis is more often than not on commercial viability, even in cases where quality is absent (which happens quite a bit), over a celebration of artistic merit. I realize that the intent by the larger festivals especially, is to attract distributors; but, the distributors simply aren't coming; so, clearly, something isn't working! And it shouldn't come as a surprise when black filmmakers with really good films completely bypass black film festivals - sometimes not even considering them at all - in favor of their non-race specific counterparts.

Number 2 however is entirely the responsibility of each festival's organizer(s). I've had experience with a few of these festivals on 3 fronts - as a filmmaker, as a distributor, and as a critic. And several of them have failed me in all scenarios, with regards to overall managerial ability... competency... efficiency... the little things that can really make a big difference. For example, simply following through on their own rules, which some haven't yet quite learned how to do.

I recall sending my film to one of the more prominent of the group, along with my check for $40, or whatever it was, my application, press-kit, and all the other materials requested for consideration; dates were listed as to when I would receive a response from the festival as to whether my film was accepted or not accepted. That day came and went, and I heard nothing. My emails requesting information were never responded to. The festival itself passed, and I still heard nothing; I never got an email, letter, or phone call telling me what they had promised on the application, and on their website, that they would do. A simple, "thanks, but no thanks," that just about every other major festival affords its rejected submissions, would have sufficed. But I heard nothing. And, I was surprised to hear that I wasn't the only one with this experience, and that this particular festival, one that would like to consider itself a giant amongst midgets, was notorious for this kind of incompetence. So, in essence, they were more than willing and able to take my money, but couldn't meet their end of the agreement.

Another festival provided contact information on its website, but, queries sent to their listed email address were bounced back, stating that the address didn't exist; and in another situation, that the account was full.

Others have had extremely poorly designed, rather uninviting websites that will make any sane person question the validity of the festival, or just turn them away completely. You may not have Sundance's production budget, but, a simple, clean, informative website doesn't require thousands of dollars in funds, or a skilled designer's touch. Like me, most visitors to each site are looking for the basics - when and where the festival takes place; how to contact the various departments; the titles, times and screening locations of films playing at the festival; and how much tickets cost. No need for any fancy splash and dash. And especially, don't design each page to load with music playing automatically in the background, as one prominent festival currently does. That's really annoying, and has "Amature" hung around its neck like a gold chain.

I'll save you all the other gory details. But I'm sure some of you reading this have stories of your own.

Granted, I haven't been to every single black film festival in the land; so, my thoughts and words are reserved for those that I have been to.

And instead of naming those that I have grown to find unworthy of my time and money, I'll instead give praise to those that I have attended at least once, that have given me reasons to want to continue going back:

1. The Harlem Film Festival (NYC), which used to be curated by Michelle Materre; I'm not sure if she still is. But when she did, those years that I attended were memorable and worthwhile. Not one of the biggest of the bunch; but you're guaranteed a professional, intimate, thoughtful experience.

2. The African Diaspora Film Festival (it's a traveling festival). Run by husband and wife team, Diarah N’Daw-Spech and her husband Reinaldo Barroso-Spech. You're certain to find an eclectic group of films at this festival, covering the entire African Diaspora, hence it's title. They've been doing it by themselves since 1992, and it's gotten better year after year. I've run into Reinaldo several times, at several different screening venues, big and small; the man works hard to find the kinds of films he wants to showcase at his festival, as opposed to waiting for them to come to him, as most other festivals do.

3. The San Francisco Black Film Festival (San Francisco, CA). Haven't been there in awhile, since I live in New York now; but during the 4+ years I lived in San Francisco, I attended the festival at least twice, and was very pleased both times. It was there that I first saw Raoul Peck's under-rated and under-appreciated Lumumba in 2000/2001, where I believe it was making its Stateside debut. Despite a few hiccups along the way, they've shown an interest in taking on some more challenging fare.

These are the best of the bunch - the bunch that I've attended. So, again, I haven't been to every single black film festival in the country; but, of the 9 that I've been to, these 3 have provided me with the best bang for my time and money, and have been the most consistent! Usually very well organized, and thought through, as advertised on their websites and ads, with a solid group of diverse films screened each year.

Now, I'm turning it over to you all. Some of you are filmmakers, press, film enthusiasts, and maybe even involved in the organization of a black film festival or two. I'd like to rate and rank the nation's black film festivals. Which have you had any dealings with? What have your experiences been like? If you had to list 3 of the best, what 3 would those be? And if you're in anyway involved with a festival, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the overall family of festivals, and why anyone should be paying attention to yours, if you aren't already attracting attention? Or if you could care less about black film festivals, and find them mostly unworthy of your time, money, or film (if you're a filmmaker), and just completely irrelevant, I'd love to hear your thoughts as well. Etc, etc, etc...

So, please, chime away... and at the end of it all, maybe we'll find some common ground, and possibly get the attention of those lagging festivals, giving them the swift kick in the arse that they so desperately need.

You can responded anonymously if you prefer. Blogger allows for that option.

Cheers!

Poll

Good Wednesday Morning!

good


If you haven't already heard, the Republican party elected its first African American chairman in Michael Steele - a gentleman I'm not all that familiar with, other than from infrequent appearances as a pundit/talking-head on various news programs during last year's presidential election race.


A calculated move by the GOP perhaps? Signs point to the affirmative. I doubt that their intent is to prep Steele for a 2012/2016 run against Obama; but I think it's safe to assume that the party intends to try to match, and challenge the Democrats, giving the party an altogether unlikely, brand new face - one that they probably hope will reflect positively on them as a party progressing, not resting on staid traditions and expectations.

Plus, it might make it easier for them to relentlessly go after Obama during his reign, without the fear of being labeled racists: "Look, we've got a black guy leading the charge; that comment he made about Obama's mother isn't racist."

Mr Steele has already begun pounding his chest, announcing his arrival, whether welcomed or not, going out of his way to challenge Obama to some kind of duel, stating, “It’s going to be an honor to spar with him,” in reference to Obama, and “How ya like me now?”, a question posed rhetorically to Obama.

And Mr. Steele celebrated the GOP's recent refusal to give Obama a single vote for his economic recovery plan by saying publicly, “The goose egg you laid on the president’s desk was just beautiful.”


Reading about all his battle cries since his nomination as GOP chair, it all seems rather silly and useless. Just get on with your job as chair Mr Steele; no need for all the pomp and circumstance that usually precedes WWF wrestling matches. It only makes a mockery of an entire establishment that already has provided, and continues to provide comedians everywhere with a bottomless well of material.

I suppose he does deserve recognition for being the first African American chair of the GOP, so, kudos to him. New ground has been broken... even if the motivation for it may not be entirely genuine. As I'm sure some have already asked, is Steele merely a token selection? Comparisons to Clarence Thomas are likely. Or maybe he's really the spook who sat by the door... highly unlikely. Putney Swope, maybe?


This should help make for quite an interesting 4 years.

DVD SPOTLIGHT - A Good Day To Be Black & Sexy



Almost forgot to mention...


Dennis's Dortch's feature-film debut (and 2008 Sundance Film Festival selection and Magnolia Pictures acquisition), A Good Day To Be Black & Sexy, a film I've talked about several times on this blog, as well as on my podcast, was released on DVD today!

I'm sure everyone reading this blog is familiar with the title. Indeed, it is a very good day for Dennis Dortch’s directorial debut which charts sexuality through a set of six amusing, interconnected vignettes that unfold in a single day in Los Angeles. Explicitly exploring sex in coupledom, the seductive, visceral film gives us a sneak-peak into a multitude of scenarios, including: a woman in bed with her boyfriend jockeys for position; a teenager explores the limits of her sexuality in questionable situations; a boy and his basketball are held hostage by interracial taboos. Seeking to shatter trite stereotypical representations of "black sexuality," Dortch’s kaleidoscopic sketches are gritty, sultry and surprising with every step and stroke.

Be sure to head on over to Amazon.com to pick up your very own copy for about $23, or check Netflix for a rental.

Extra features on the disc include the usual deleted scenes and director's commentary.

An auspicious start from filmmaker, Dennis Dortch... raw, fresh, and extremely witty. You won't be disappointed!

Here's it's trailer as a reminder:

FILM FESTIVAL - SXSW, "Sorry Thanks"



Yes, the South By Southwest (SXSW) film festival is nearly upon us. It's the next prominent American film festival on the annual festival calendar, right after the granddaddy of them all, the Sundance Film Festival.

And just as I did with Sundance, I've scrubbed the list of films accepted into SXSW, in search of any black faces in front of and/or behind the film cameras. But unlike Sundance this year, SXSW doesn't have much to offer in that regard, compared to last year's edition of the Austin, TX-based festival, where Barry Jenkins' Medicine For Melancholy made its debut, on its way to an eventual IFC distribution pick-up!

One film that fits the bill from this year's selection, is the "Mumblecore" produced Sorry, Thanks, a film I first heard about almost a year ago, but didn't pay much attention to. I recall stumbling across the film's website then; however there was little info for me to swallow at the time.

The film stars newcomer, Kenya Miles, and Willey Wiggins, both pictured in the image above.

The synopsis is as follows:

"Sorry, Thanks" is an un-romantic comedy about two people who are glad they met, sorry they slept together, and self-destructive enough to “keep in touch." Upon visiting her ex-boyfriend's apartment to collect her belongings, Kira (Kenya Miles) launches into the dating scene for the first time in years and fixates immediately on the disheveled Max (Wiley Wiggins). Disaster looms when Max (who already has a girlfriend) decides to dabble in two new pursuits: an obsessive-tending interest in Kira, and the mystery of whether he may in fact be an ass. Kira, meanwhile, continues bewildered: fighting to win a job she's far too smart for, then sabotaging her only meaningful romantic prospect when her best friend lays it on the line.

By the way, like Medicine For Melancholy, Sorry, Thanks was shot entirely in San Francisco.

From the looks of the trailer, it looks like yet another indie romantic comedy, full of stock quirky characters, in their 20s/early 30s, naturalistic dialogue, seemingly mostly improvised, and, of course, likely shot with a hand-held prosumer digital camcorder.

Kudos to the filmmakers for their accomplishment; but, I can't say that I'll be rushing to see this one, if it ever reaches a theatre near me.

I'm calling for a moratorium on the indie romantic comedy/relationship movie! They all start to look the same after awhile.

The film's website: http://www.sorrythanksfilm.com/

Here's its trailer:

video

For the full list of films scheduled to screen at SXSW next month, go to http://www.sxsw.com/.

The film festival runs from March 13th to the 21st.

THINGS THAT MADE ME GO HMMM - Cartoon Voices



I just watched the trailer for an upcoming stylized CGI-animated, feature-length film produced by Tim Burton called
9.

In the film, Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, Crispin Glover, Martin Landau, and Christopher Plummer provide voices for each of the animated characters, and I'm sure were payed handsomely for their efforts.

Rightfully so!


However, I wonder if animated studio features like 9, and all those that have come before it (all the Shrek movies, Toy Story, The Incredibles, Ice Age, Monsters Inc, and the vast cauldron of others) would have been any less successful if the voices behind each character in each movie, were provided by non-stars... "no-list" actors that could really use the work and the money.

They say that the rich get richer, and there's certainly more than enough proof to support that statement; but the studios could opt to reverse that trend by giving an unknown the opportunity to perform and earn a paycheck in the process, instead of calling on established celebrities.

These are often family-friendly films, aimed at boys and girls under the age of 16, who probably could care less whose voice was behind each character in each film.

I doubt adults care either. I've seen a few of these films, and the names listed in the "voiced by" section of the credits aren't the attraction. The style of animation, and the story are.

Who really cares if Eddie Murphy provided the voice for Donkey in the Shrek movies, or if Tom Hanks was the voice behind Woody in the Toy Story series - all immensely successful films that I genuinely believe would have been just as successful if Joe Schmoe, struggling Los Angeles-based actor, was given the opportunity to flex his vocal talents.

So, I say, come on Hollywood - give the little guy a break for once. I seriously doubt that it'll hurt your bottomline. Jennifer Connelly doesn't necessarily need the work, nor the money; next time, give the job (and the paycheck) to Jane Schmoe, struggling New York actress. I'm sure she'd be incredibly grateful, and would give you one heck of a vocal performance!

In the meantime, here's the trailer for 9, a film that's on my 2009 "To-See" list. From the little dialogue heard in the 2-minute teaser, see if you can tell who's voice is whose, or whether you even really care.

PRINT - Welcome To Nigeriatown... In China



We know a lot about the recent Chinese "invasion" of African countries, in what has effectively been described by many as 21st century colonization of the continent; but we've heard very little of the story from the other side - the Africans who have been exported to China, as part of this economic exchange agreement between the continent and the Asian country.


The current issue of The New Yorker contains an article about the economic, social, and religious lives of African merchants living in China, in what some Nigerians there are calling Nigeriatown, AKA Chocolate City.

This is all very interesting to me, and worth paying attention to, on all fronts. Globalization is the name of the game; but, who's really benefiting in this arrangement? Answers vary depending on who you ask.

Time will answer that question.

One thing is certain - given the inevitable couplings occurring between Nigerian men and Chinese women in China, as mentioned in the New Yorker piece, China's overall complexion is going to gradually change in years to come. The shift will sit comfortably amongst all the other "post-racial," "Obama effect" hysteria we've been hearing about since the inauguration last month - even though this one is years older than Obama's campaign.

It would make for an interesting, revealing film - the life of an African man/woman/child in Guangzhou.

Might we see Nollywood movies infiltrate Chinese culture, and vice-versa, one influencing the other?

Click the image below to listen to and view New Yorker writer, Evan Osnos, narrate a 3 1/2-minute audio slide show summarizing the piece.




via NEW YORKER

SCREENING SIGHTINGS - Youtube Hosts Independent Films To Celebrate Black History Month

This month, in appreciation of Black History Month, Youtube and Grey Goose Vodka are working together to present four independent "black history" films. The films will be available from January 30th through February 12th on YouTube (Youtube Screening Room) - for FREE of course.

I guess I should be thankful to Grey Goose Vodka for its sponsorship; but, it would be nice to get sponsorship from somewhere other than a liquor company. It's practically a cliche now, where "black-themed" events are concerned!

The four films are:

Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony

Assembled over the course of nine years and originally released in 2002, Amandla!: A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony tells the tale of how South Africans used music as a source of strength in their fight against apartheid. Combining archival footage, present-day interviews, great cinematography, and a memorable soundtrack, Amandla! deftly attempts to convey a history of apartheid and the ensuing resistance through the moving stories of those who were involved.

Hungu

Inspired by an African legend, Hungu tells the tale of how a mother’s soul, resurrected by music, returns strength and life to her child. With a minimalist yet vivid animation style, Nicholas Brault crafts a sweeping, haunting tale of the creation of the Brazilian berimbau using very little in the way of animation and runtime. The sound design, crucial to making such a film effective, is excellent. At just 10 minutes long, Hungu won the “Best Animated Film” award at the 2008 Palm Springs International Short Film Festival.

Electric Purgatory

Electric Purgatory examines the struggles of black rock musicians, who are forced to confront biases in both the culture and business of rock and roll. Director Raymond Gayle combines concert footage with interviews of prominent black rock and roll musicians, weaving a tale of the incongruity between the African-American origin of blues, and the current state of rock and roll. The film also explores the creation of the Black Rock Coalition.

The 13th Amendment

This 5-minute documentary short tells the story of a Helen Dennis, a 90-year old woman, and her trek to vote for Barack Obama in the 2008 Pennsylvania Primary.

And remember, these films will be available on the Youtube Screening Room through February 12th.

I've seen the Amandla! and Electric Purgatory. Your interest in each one will obviously depend on how invested you are in the subject matter presented. But I recommend each.

Regarding Electric Purgatory, comparisons to Afro-punk, James Spooner's popular 2003 documentary which explored the world of black punk rock fans, are inevitable.

Check them all out at your leisure...

AUDIO - Don't F*** With Christian Bale On Set!

This is one of several reasons why I don't look forward to ever working with star performers.

Maybe he had a very good reason to be pissed off; but did the man deserve to be berated so viciously, especially in the presence of others?

And this wasn't some PA he was scolding; it was the freaking DP of the movie!! You'd think he was talking to his water-boy! Not that PAs or water-boys deserve this kind of treatment.


I like Christian Bale, and this doesn't drastically alter my view of him; I doubt that this will have any lasting negative effects...

Relax Christian... relax...

Here's the audio from the set Of Terminator Salvation.



via TMZ