What is Black Cinema? A Video Story. Film Criticism [Assignment]

Here is an excerpt from one of my Film Criticism assignment submissions.  The final video story is a 10-minute travel through time with b-roll curated from various online sources to corroborate the message.  I explored the meaning of black cinema, the history, cultural significance, theories, challenges, and future.  I highlighted the origins, silent film era, race films, blaxploitation films, the work of pioneer Oscar Michaux, independent cinema, notable challenges, the structure of Hollywood narratives, and the theories of Manthia Diawara, bell hooks and Haile Gerima.  The later describes cinema as a weapon, and “one of the most unexamined, unscrutinzed tool(s) of colonialism” detailing how mass media exploitation prescribes a view of blackness that perpetuates the disenfranchisement of Black Americans. 

What is Black Cinema? Film Criticism. Video Story. Assignment Submission. Screen Capture. Professor Sam Harman. Howard University.
What is Black Cinema? Film Criticism. Video Story. Assignment Submission. Screen Capture. Professor Sam Harman. Howard University.

What is Black Cinema anyway? 

Black Cinema is defined as classification used to describe film which involves the participation and/or representation of black people.  Now, this definition is quite broad and leaves some room for interpretation.  It could mean the film black cast, a black crew, a black director, a black story, or a focus on black audiences.

Alternatively, black cinema has been defined as a film recounting relatable common experiences and containing cultural elements that celebrate Black Cultural Identity.

Film director, Gladstone Yearwood defines black cinema as a body of films produced in the African diaspora which share a common problematic.  These films are a cultural expression of the survival impulse of African American culture and its struggle against marginalization.

Conclusion

Black cinema is not an isolated phenomenon. It has always been linked with social issues in the black community and served as the imagination of our aspirations.  Although challenges remain with funding and access, there is definitely a market for black stories.  It’s interesting to speculate in what direction black cinema would go.

If you would like to view the entire video story, send a message on the contact page or sign-up for mailing list.  I can also forward my voiceover transcript.  Best regards!

1st Year of Film MFA at Howard University Completed, Semester Reflection

What a bummer?!?!  While I am elated the academic year at Howard University has come to a close and I officially completed the first year of my graduate film school experience, something about this still feels incomplete.

When classes started in January, there was no way any of us could have predicted a pandemic would sweep through the nation and change life as we know it.  Classes were migrated to a virtual format, the status of my unfinished film remains in limbo, the film I was scheduled to DP was permanently postponed and my freelance photography / videography gigs were suspended amid curfew and social distancing requirements. Oh, and it gets better … my positions at Live Nation and Landry’s were furloughed as businesses closed. I’ve yet to see a stimulus check or unemployment check and sadly, I’m stuck in a lease in Washington, D.C., one of the most expensive places to live in America.  Putting it mildly, my life sucks right now.

Zoom classes are cute and all, but NOT when you are a film student.  The program is collaborative in nature!  We want access to equipment; we want to crew shoots.  Working on group projects remotely with behemoth sized files and varying degrees of software access and system capability is no fun at all.  I would have sat this semester out had I known it would wind up online.  With talks of additional COVID phases, the likelihood of next semester being online, no program funding for the film program and graduate assistant positions reportedly slashed 50% to measly two slots … an upcoming gap-year seems imminent.

Howard University Film MFA Graduate School - Spring 2020 Grades
Howard University MFA Film Student – Graduate School, Spring 2020 COVID-19 Grades