So in order to best cover all bases, progressive film critics tend to consider three categories of assessment, rather than two: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. The first two are self-explanatory. And the third category is reserved for movies that may have been impressively put together, but there's just something offensively anti-humanistic about them.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
TAKE-OUT: Nominated for OUR DAILY BREAD AWARD, for the most positive and inspiring workingclass images in a movie, and also for THE GILLO for Best Progressive Foreign Language Film, named after the Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo who lensed the 1960s classics, The Battle of Algiers and Burn! TAKE-OUT signifies a commendable new direction in US filmmaking, in long overdue recognition of the multicultural reality of this country, as a foreign language film entry about the United States.
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE SHOW
The JACC Progie nominations, also known as *THE ANTI-OSCARS* were presented with commentary on Pacifica Radio's WBAI Arts Magazine in NY 99.5 FM at 2pm, on 1/27/09 and archived at WBAI.org. The winners will be announced in mid-February on Air America Radio, just prior to and in oppositon to the Academy Awards.
Posted by Solidaridad Press at 5:04 PM
Friday, January 9, 2009
Dear Friends of Women Filmmakers,
The SLUMDOG brouhaha has reached today's Wall Street Journal, with a few quotes from/references to yours truly, especially this:
"After the 2009 Golden Globe nominations were announced in December, a Chicago film critic launched an online campaign to question the governing Hollywood Foreign Press Association about why Ms. Tandan had not been nominated for best director along with Mr. Boyle. "If she's co-director during the filmmaking and marketing process, why isn't she co-nominee when the awards are passed out?" says campaign organizer Jan Lisa Huttner."
"Ms. Huttner hasn't dropped her effort. She says her real mission (with Oscar nominations coming Jan. 22) is to spotlight how rare it is for female directors to be in the awards race. Only three women have been nominated for best director Golden Globes (Barbara Streisand won for "Yentl"), and three have been nominated in that category at the Oscars, with no winners."
"Ms. Tandan's link to Hollywood has been as a casting director. Director Mira Nair hired the New Delhi native to fill the sprawling cast of her 2000 film "Monsoon Wedding" and recommended her to Mr. Boyle. "She is hugely responsible for the foundation of 'Slumdog,' " says Ms. Nair. "Once you trust that it is authentic, you can go with the pop quality of it. She had the nose for it."
CLICK HERE TO READ COMPLETE ARTICLE
Jan Lisa Huttner
JUF News/Fund for Women Artists
& Managing Editor of FILMS FOR TWO
Chicago Film Critics Association
James Agee Cinema Circle
Women Film Critics Circle
The next International SWAN Day (Support Women Artists Now) will be on Saturday, March 28, 2009! Read all about it at: www.SwanDay.org
Posted by Solidaridad Press at 5:24 PM
Thursday, January 8, 2009
By Sikivu Hutchinson
Midway through the recently released Cadillac Records, director Darnell Martin’s film on the groundbreaking record label Chess Records, Martin depicts rock pioneer Chuck Berry unleashing his signature “Sweet Little Sixteen” guitar riffs against scenes of surfing revelry. Berry’s song was notoriously pilfered by the Beach Boys in their song “Surfin’ USA,” a homage to white California youth subculture. Chewed up and spat out by an imperialist marketing machine, Berry’s music becomes yet another Jim Crow soundtrack for Americana pleasure. The first African American female to direct a studio film, Martin’s take on the Chess saga breathes new life into the all too familiar history of gifted black musicians ripped off by a white record promoter. Chronicling the rise of Chess artists Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Berry, Little Walter and Etta James, Martin highlights their struggle to gain just compensation and recognition in a culture whose appetite for “black music” would ripen into a multi-million dollar industry during the 1950s. The avarice of record company owner Leonard Chess, who amassed a fortune from the music of these artists, paying them off with Cadillac cars and shady contracts, is a vivid reminder of the plantation ethos that drives American pop music.
It’s no revelation to say that white appropriation of African American derived music and idioms has been a cornerstone of mainstream American cultural identity, yet Martin’s film throws the question of consumption, commerce and the capitalist subtext of white pleasure into vivid relief. In the film young white women flock to black guitar players at segregated concerts, parading their relative racial and sexual freedom, oblivious to the consequences for black men. For white Americana, the rise of 1950s rock and R&B transformed racial otherness into a more mainstream adventure, a resort vacation into unexplored vistas of self-discovery that even white consumers with a few cents for a 45 record could take. White postwar prosperity and suburbanization made blackness all the more appealing because of its transgressive potential. As long as actual black people remained “out there,” in segregated urban ghettos and rural communities, black cultural production would continue to be a seductive bromide. The 1956 Interstate Highway Act paved the way to white suburbia and ignited a car culture that was baptized in the sounds of rock and R&B. As suburban white flight exacerbated residential segregation, black music became the commodity of choice for a new generation of young white consumers. Yet in the film, scene after scene of crushing poverty, racist police abuse and public humiliation endured by Waters and company underscores the parasitic relationship between white consumption and spatial apartheid. For scores of white record buyers and musicians, classics such as Wolf and Willie Dixon’s “Backdoor Man” and Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven” would become standards, while segregated black spectators would grow up watching Hollywood scenes of white romance and redemption against the backdrop of black music.
Like Motown, Stax Records and other black-dominated labels, the work of the Chess artists established a new language for white self-invention while foregrounding the disparity between white and black postwar opportunities. The parallels between this history and the commodification of hip hop are compelling. As hip hop has spanned the globe netting mega millions for white corporations it has become another metaphor for imperialist exploitation of black America. Though Berry ultimately won song writing credit on Surfin’ USA after a threatened lawsuit, the film leaves us with the image of the hip swiveling Elvis Presley; his legacy and global empire forged on the backs of African American geniuses unknown and unrecognized in American music history.
Sikivu Hutchinson is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor of blackfemlens.org, an online journal of feminist criticism. She is also on KPFK Radio's Beneath The Surface in Los Angeles, a member of the Women Film Critics Circle, the James Agee Cinema Circle, and a contributor to The WBAI Radio Womens Show in New York City.
Posted by Solidaridad Press at 4:34 PM
Thursday, January 1, 2009
EARTHA KITT (1928-2008)
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
For generations, the name, Eartha Kitt, was synonymous with sexy, sultry, and outspoken.
In an industry where careers can sometimes be measured in minutes, Eartha Kitt was the real thing, for quite a while; dancer, singer, actress, and on occasion, a comedian.
Since the tender age of 14, she worked the stage, and for nearly 7 decades, she left her indelible imprint by her work on the big screen, TV, and on recordings.
On Jan. 26, 1928 she was born in South Carolina as Eartha Mae Kitt.
She danced, sang, and acted her way into the hearts of millions.
In 1968, she dared speak out against the Vietnam War, when the war was raging at it's hottest, and was both blacklisted and hounded for doing so. That's because she spoke at a photo op at the White House in the face of First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson (wife of Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson). For daring to speak her mind at the heart of the empire, and for denouncing an Imperial war, the media and the state tried to 'disappear' her. She had to go abroad to find her freedom of speech, where she remained for nearly a decade.
For those who want to see her as a seductive chanteuse, the 1958 film, St. Louis Blues, starring Nat King Cole, Ruby Dee, Pearl Bailey and the gospel great, Mahalia Jackson, is a great source. For a slightly comic turn, see her as an amorous entrepreneurial cougar on the hunt for a young Eddie Murphy in the 1992 film Boomerang starring Halle Berry as the principal love interest.
Although she was known as the quintessential sex kitten for her acting, her public outspokenness came at quite a cost. Her comings, goings, doings and sayings were tracked by both the FBI and the CIA.
She moved through life with an intelligence, wit and nerve that made her distinctive and unforgettable.
Eartha Mae Kitt was 80.
--(c) '08 maj
[Source:African Arts and Letters, eds, Appiah, Kwame Anthony and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., (Phila., PA: Running Press, 2004.]
The Power of Truth is Final -- Free Mumia!
Audio of most of Mumia's essays are at: http://www.prisonradio.org
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P.O. Box 19709
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Phone - 215-476-8812/ Fax - 215-476-6180
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Web - www.freemumia.com
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Posted by Solidaridad Press at 6:11 PM