Now Is The Time For Black Filmmakers To Step Outside The Box


Tim Alexander’s Diary Of A Tired Black Man is described  as a film that explores the “complex” nature of black female and male relationships. This is at least what it says on the description page:

A fascinating story about the complex relationships between Black Men and Black Women.

I examined the film myself and I kept asking a single question —  Why is it that in 2009 the films that keep coming out of the black community still delve into the belly lint of our culture? Forgive me, I realize there are people who still find the black men/black women relationships issue to be important, but this culture as well as others have more pressing issues at hand to discuss.

People are losing jobs, losing hope and are dying spiritually as a result of it. It’s time for a Spike Lee to step up to the plate to put a lens to that.

Not the Spike Lee of Do The Right Thing and Malcolm X, but the Spike Lee of Inside Man, Miracle At St. Anna’s and When The Levees Broke.

The film that I feel expresses the universality black filmmakers should explore in Spike Lee’s collection is When The Levees Broke.

Seeing faces that weren’t black was a refreshing feeling for me. Growing up black you are lead to believe that the issues of your community are not the same. In some instances this is true. The Hurricane Katrina incident however is not one of those instances.

Because New Orleans, like Chicago where I live, is a mixture of different cultures and backgrounds, it only made sense for Spike Lee to cover as much as he could and with a wider perspective than one straight from the black community. Mother nature, as the documentary showcased, doesn’t discriminate against anyone.

This is the kind of film that Black Hollywood needs — not another Diary Of A Tired Black Man.

Everyone, no matter the culture, has a story to tell and a struggle to get through. The inclusion of that fact would not only bridge the gap between blacks and other races when it comes to what we watch, but it would mean greater success within the independent and mainstream areas  of Hollywood.

-Matthew Milam

5 thoughts on “Now Is The Time For Black Filmmakers To Step Outside The Box”

  1. Ooo, challenge! I find this post very interesting and poignant. While, I truly agree that Black Hollywood needs more than “Diary of a Mad Black Man,” I don’t feel the issue is the need to show diversity of races in our films. Why are we assumed to be racist when we as Africans/Blacks in America tell our own experience? I feel the object should be reflect the totality of the African/Black experience in film; an experience that is as diverse as the human experience? This will allow others not to have such a linear view of Blacks and to share in our human similarities. As Black folk, we have White folk, Asian folk, Hispanic folk, Native American folk as our parents, siblings, cousins, friends, and so on. At the same time, there truly is a large of our population that live segregated lives in segrated communities attending segregated schools, yet all situations, everyone is human and there are experiences that all humans can relate to and cultural differences that can be respected.

  2. Ooo, challenge! This interesting and poignant blog from EUR Web “This and That” challenges Black filmmakers to bring more divesity to Black films. Question is, Can how Blacks are viewed by other races be addresse by showing diversity of races in Black films or by showing the African/Black experience is as diverse as the human experience?

  3. Black Film must portray all aspects of the Negro Black American experience. The years of chattel slavery through the years of Jim Crow and the new Jim Crowism of the 20th and 21st Century. They need to step outside the box, jump on the box and redefine the box!

    Black Film must also portray – has a duty to portray – the untold stories of the great Negro Black American historical personalities and the stories of the famous and not so famous Black families that made the rich tapestry of Negro Black American life. Yes, there is a beautiful history of Negritude that has a wealth of material to be told – epic stories that will be the foundation and inspiration of a Black Renaissance – inspiring new pride and understanding of where we came from, who we are and where we are going.

    The stories and lives of the people who taught, attended and graduate from the Historically Black Colleges and Universities offers a wealth of material. These men and women went out into racist America and built a Black society – lived normal and not so normal lives – many changed the course of history in America. They had medical practices, grocery stores, owned businesses – but you would never know it because white film makers never told it – the most white film and television has done is give a few bio-pics and a splash of color on a few shows or romanticized plantation life — you know the themes they fed us and the world.

    Negro Black American did not suddenly appear as drug crazed idiots; Negro Black America and Black American life was not some pre-existing state of broken homes, back room juke joints in some far off that suddenly appeared in 1979! We had strong Black families, clean neighborhoods, modest boys and girls, honorable men and women.

    Black film makers and actors have a duty to be true Griots and protectors and purveyors of our history – of everyday life – of ourStory not HISstory or THIERstory. A major problem is our film makers have only of late been able to start flexing their muscle – so to say – to be able to put images and stories on celluloid. Do not forget we were not even allow to vote until not to long ago!

    We should not be over critical or sensitive if our film makers focus on the stereotypical subjects and the violence and images that do not do us proud, so to say. They are reflecting for the most part what they grew up seeing and being fed by the dominant culture. Black Film is in its infancy and must grow and become more selective and the producers and artists should not worry about making block busters or winning Oscars. Oprah, Denzel and Forrest have given us a glimpse with the ‘Debaters’ and there are literally thousands of similar beautiful factual stories waiting to be told.

    Forgive me if I have failed to mention the really great film makers that made great all Black films that are our classics – true American classics – our jazz that flowed through the camera lens of our great film makers frame by frame. These old films are now deteriorating in tin cans on the shelves of a famous Black Museum.

    These films alone could be a reawakening of the ‘art of film making’. Again forgive me if I have failed to give your their names – the names of the our greats – actors film makers – costumes makers – writers poets stage actors – wake up Black film makers and actors and movie buffs. Forgive me if I have not dropped names — go and check for yourself it will mean much more to you. Tell your White friends to go and check also.

    The history of America – all of it including the movie history, the social history the political history – did not begin with the great influx of European immigrants or other immigrants that came to these shores. Understand Negro Black Americans are not immigrants our ancestors were forcibly bought to this country as slaves – not all of them – and we are their legacy. Our blood has become mixed over the years and our name has morphed but we are not immigrants and we are unashamedly and unapologetically Black, Brown, High Yellow, Light Bright and some damn near White – but all Black and Proud with a whole lot of movies to made. So independent writers, film makers and you Black entrepreneurs that have some cash – lets get busy – come together. Yo, home girl – Ms. Jackie Taylor-Adams keep the flow – I am feeling you and the Griots.
    Peace, Power & Blessings.

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