Viola Davis and George Clooney on cover of Entertainment Weekly

Viola Davis –long the darling of Black magazines– is finally being recognized for her achievements and talent as an actress!

As an Oscar® contender for her role in “The Help,” she and another contender –namely, George Clooney– are gracing the cover of Entertainment Weekly magazine.

As few actresses of her caliber dare to speak up about the dearth of roles for Black actresses, let alone why Hollywood seems transfixed by hiring Black entertainers, rappers and singers for acting roles, but don’t do that for white actors.

According to Ms. Davis:

“Only one black actress in history has been back [at the Oscars] more than once, and that’s Whoopi Goldberg,” Davis told Entertainment Weekly. “But that’s only because there aren’t a lot of roles out there that are going to bring you back. Say if you have two great roles for an African-American actress in a year — one actress can cover it. So if there’s five really good black actresses out there, and that one actress gets it all, then the other four can sit for the next three years.”

Pick up a copy of Entertainment Weekly or read more at Clutch Magazine

The Negro Soldier and Preminger’s Porgy and Bess Added to the National Film Registry

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The Washington Post announced the new list of recently inducted films into the National Film Registry in Washington, D.C.

Otto Preminger’s film version of Gershwin’s “Porgy & Bess” (starring Dorothy Dandridge and Sidney Poitier) and “The Negro Soldier” were included in a notable list of films.

Other films included “Forrest Gump”, “Bambi” and “The Lost Weekend”.

According to the Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday:

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington personally selects which films will be added to the National Film Registry, working from a list of suggestions from the library’s National Film Preservation Board and the general public. ‘What it’s proven to me, having done it now for a number of years, is the continuing inventiveness and diversity of how moving images and the film industry have flourished in this country,’ Billington said. ‘There’s just terrific variety and richness.’

Kickstarter Campaign: An Oversimplification of Her Beauty

Filmmaker Terence Nance has filmed a beautiful, creatively dynamic film called “An Oversimplification of Her Beauty.” He has (as of today) 22 days left to receive pledges to complete his film and deliver it to the 2012 Sundance Film Festival for screening.

Animation, stop-motion, claymation, performance…what more could you ask! Pledge today! (Remember, if he doesn’t make his goal of $7,675, you will not be charged…but that’s not gonna happen, is it?)

Donate by going to: http://kck.st/sbYUBK

British actress/writer/director Amma Asante to direct Belle

Shadow and Act reported that British actress/writer/director Amma Asante (“A Way of Life”) is set to direct a film she co-wrote called “Belle.”

“Belle” is the story of a mixed-race girl who is adopted into an aristocratic white family and eventually falls in love with the vicar’s son, an abolitionist.

Budgeted at $10.1 M, the film is set to production for summer 2012.

To date, no one has been named for the lead roles.

Sundance announces 2012 film program

The pinnacle of independent film festivals –the Sundance Film Festival– has released the list of its 2012 films, including shorts, features and documentaries!

Notable selections include:
2 Days in New York / France (Director: Julie Delpy, Screenwriters: Julie Delpy, Alexia Landeau) — Marion has broken up with Jack and now lives in New York with their child. A visit from her family, the different cultural background of her new boyfriend, her sister’s ex-boyfriend, and her upcoming photo exhibition make for an explosive mix. Cast: Julie Delpy, Chris Rock, Albert Delpy, Alexia Landeau, Alex Nahon. 

Red Hook Summer / U.S.A. (Director: Spike Lee, Screenwriters: James McBride, Spike Lee) — A young Atlanta boy spends his summer in Brooklyn with his grandfather, who he’s never seen before. Cast: Clarke Peters, Jules Brown, Toni Lysaith, James Ransone, Thomas Jefferson Byrd.

FISHING WITHOUT NETS (Director: Cutter Hodierne, Screenwriters: Cutter Hodierne, John Hibey) — A story of pirates in Somalia, told from the perspective of the pirates themselves.

LUV / U.S.A. (Director: Sheldon Candis, Screenwriters: Sheldon Candis, Justin Wilson) — An orphaned 11-year-old boy is forced to face the unpleasant truth about his beloved uncle during one harrowing day in the streets of Baltimore. Cast: Common, Michael Rainey Jr., Dennis Haysbert, Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton.

Middle Of Nowhere / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ava DuVernay) — When her husband is incarcerated, an African-American woman struggles to maintain her marriage and her identity. Cast: Emayatzy Corinealdi, David Oyelowo, Omari Hardwick, Lorraine Touissaint, Edwina Findley.

About Face / U.S.A. (Director: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders) — An exploration of beauty and aging through the stories of the original supermodels. Participants including Isabella Rossellini, Christie Brinkley, Beverly Johnson, Carmen Dell’Orefice, Paulina Porizkova, Jerry Hall and Christy Turlington weigh in on the fashion industry and how they reassess and redefine their own sense of beauty as their careers progress.

The Words / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Brian Klugman, Lee Sternthal) — The Words is a layered and haunting tale about a celebrated novelist who must learn to live with the consequences of his undeserved success, and the inescapable consequences of stealing another man’s life and work. Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, Olivia Wilde with Zoe Saldana. (*This is the closing night film)

The House I Live In / U.S.A. (Director: Eugene Jarecki) — For over 40 years, the War on Drugs has accounted for 45 million arrests, made America the world’s largest jailer and damaged poor communities at home and abroad. Yet, drugs are cheaper, purer and more available today than ever. Where did we go wrong and what is the path toward healing?

Untitled Paul Simon Project / U.S.A. (Director: Joe Berlinger) — Paul Simon returns to South Africa to explore the incredible journey of his historic Graceland album, including the political backlash he sparked for allegedly breaking the UN cultural boycott of South Africa, designed to end Apartheid.

The Hidden Smile (El somriure amagat) / Spain (Director: Ventura Durall, Screenwriters: Ventura Durall, Miguel Llansó) — Following a 10-year-old kid who arrives at the Ethiopian capital after escaping from his home and his misfortunes to integrate into a street children group, The Hidden Smile constructs a realistic tale on the values that flourish in a society formed by children.

As the Sundance Film Festival draws closer, there are sure to be more stand-outs that will also be featured!

For more information, visit the Sundance Film Festival at http://www.sundance.org/press-center/release/2012-festival-program-announcement/

New Bond movie to star Naomie Harris

According to Entertainment Weekly, after much ballyhoo and discretion, fans finally find out the name of the new Bond movie: “Skyfall”. The spy thriller will bring back the sexiest bond since the original Sean Connery, Daniel Craig. The film –23rd in the series– will also star Javier Bardem (Biutiful, No Country for Old Men) and the beautiful Brit actress Naomie Harris (28 Days Later, Pirates of the Caribbean, The First Grader).

Ms. Harris was long rumored to be in the film, but wasn’t confirmed until recently. She will star alongside the star studded cast of Dame Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, and, of course, Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem.

Exclusive Trailer! KINYARWANDA: Sundance Film Festival 2011 Audience Award Winner Hits Theaters

From AAFFRM:

AFFRM, the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement, is pleased to announce that it will open its second film, KINYARWANDA, in theaters on Friday, December 2 in eight cities nationwide.

KINYARWANDA will be released in AFFRM’s founding markets: New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Seattle. In addition, three new opening week cities have been added: Chicago, Washington DC and San Francisco.

Writer/director Alrick Brown’s compelling feature directorial debut garnered the Sundance Film Festival 2011 Audience Award in the World Cinema Drama category this year, and captured the Grand Prize at the lauded Skip City Film Festival in Japan last week.

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In KINYARWANDA, a young Tutsi woman and a young Hutu man fall in love amidst chaos, a soldier struggles with being absent from her family to foster a greater good, and a priest grapples with his faith in the face of unspeakable horror. The Hollywood Reporter stated, “Brown presents these personal and heartbreaking stories with steadfast compassion.”

AFFRM is a collaborative theatrical distribution entity powered by the nation’s finest black film organizations. The founding organizations are Urbanworld Film Festival with Imagenation in New York, BronzeLens Film Festival in Atlanta, ReelBlack Film Series in Philadelphia and Langston Hughes African-American Film Festival in Seattle. AFFRM’s inaugural release was the award-winning film, I WILL FOLLOW, which opened March 2011 in more than 20 cities during its seven week run.

Shonda Rhimes pens new ABC series starring Kerry Washington

Who knew Shonda Rhimes could write an ABC series actually starring (wait for it) a Black woman? All snarkiness aside, the Emmy-award winning writer (Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice) is back at the Disney-owned ABC with another series called “Scandal.” The series will star actress Kerry Washington.

According to the entertainment blog Madame Noire:

The drama will star actress Kerry Washington, cutie Columbus Short, and a slew of others who play employees at a crisis-management firm; a bunch of shiny-suit wearing PR folks who work in fixing up the disastrous mistakes and moves of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Washington fills big shoes playing the head of the firm and the former consultant to the President of the United States, Olivia Pope.

Casting Calls for OWN!

Have you ever wanted to be on television? Are you missing Oprah Winfrey? Yeah. Us, too. But the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) has a number of casting calls for a number of shows –everything from reality shows, talk shows, documentaries and investigative journalism.

Here’s a sampling and jump in where you can!

Yes, Eartha Kitt is the only Catwoman I know…

While catching up on New York Fashion Week over at Full Frontal Fashion, I couldn’t help but to smile at their Love vs. Loathe section.It’s seems that I’m not the only person who is totally not digging Anne Hathaway as the choice for Catwoman in the latest installment of the Batman series, “The Dark Knight Rises” –directed by Christopher Nolan.Given that we’ve had Michelle Pfeiffer, et al, and that the only woman of color might reprise the essence of La Eartha was the star of awful film “Catwoman” (Halle Berry) I thought this would be the best time for the majors to consider re-visiting the purring, sensual Black Catwoman.Not.They decided to go with the quirky, goofy, gawky Anne Hathaway, who I’m sure is a lovely young woman, but come on. Eartha Kitt would have dropped her with one look.Now the folks at Love vs. Lust fully agree, and for that, I’m giving them a shout-out.Read more at Love vs. Lust

Brava, Miss Universe! Miss Angola gives an intelligent response to a dumb question

The southwest African nation of Angola won its first “Miss Universe” pageant. Leila Lopes won the title of Miss Universe 2011. Her response to one of the most insensitive questions is commendable and laudable and should serve as a guide for young, Black girls and teens.

When asked, “If you could change one of your physical characteristics, which one would it be and why?” Ms. Lopes responded:

“Thank God I am very-well satisfied with the way God created me, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I consider myself a woman endowed with inner beauty. … I have acquired many wonderful principles from my family, and I plan to follow these through the rest of my life. And now I would like to give all of you a piece of advice: Respect one another.”

Read more on CNN.com

Jennifer Hudson picked to star in the Three Stooges

According to DEADLINE.com, Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson is set to star in the “Three Stooges.” She shall star as neither Larry, Curly nor Moe.

Ms. Hudson will play a nun named Sister Rosemary who is in the orphanage where the three knuckleheads reside. Alongside Ms. Hudson will be irreverent comedians Jane Lynch and Larry David. An educated guess is that she’ll be the nice one.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela to Winnie movie: I wasn’t consulted


Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, former wife of legendary activist and former-South African president Nelson Mandela, told CNN’s Nadia Bilchik that she was never consulted about the biopic, “Winnie.” Ms. Madikizela-Mandela made it clear that she has nothing against the Oscar-winning star Jennifer Hudson (who is playing the title role).

Click image to find out more about Winnie Mandikizela-Mandela

According to CNN’s Marquee blog: “Hudson never met with Mandela, but a rep for the actress told CNN that it wasn’t because Hudson didn’t want to…(she) would have loved to meet the activist, her rep said, but the producers thought she shouldn’t.”

As the IBWFF reported last year, the production already received flak from the Creative Workers Union of South Africa (CWUS) who prompted a boycott of the film because the producers weren’t hiring South African actors –including the lead role of Winnie Mandela.

Director Darrell Roodt (“Cry, the Beloved Country”) has described the film as “the ultimate women’s movie,” although Ms. Mandikizela-Mandela is not amused.

Read more on the Marquee

Is Zoe Saldana being overlooked by the media?

Allison Samuels of entertainment blog the Daily Beast asks a pointed question: Would Zoe Saldana be on the cover of major magazines if she were white?

Poignant examples that beg an answer include the fact that Ms. Saldana was suspiciously absent from Vanity Fair magazine’s 2009 Hollywood issue…even though she had three (count ‘em, three) major films in the top 20 earners –including the over the top “Avatar”. (Yes, she was animated, but that’s besides the point.)

“A brown face just doesn’t resonate with nonminorities when it’s on the cover of magazines.” –Bethann Hardison

Other examples include the ever present (read: annoying) full court press whenever someone like Angelina Jolie is in a film. Even fellow Latina Jennifer Lopez is plastered, promoted and marketed, when she’s doing a film –even though she arguably hasn’t made a good film since Selena.

“(W)hile both Beyoncé and Rihanna appear on Instyle and Glamour magazine covers this month, both women are singers, which is a more traditionally accepted role for women of color. Dominating the box office is not.”

The article gets into some basic missteps regarding race and ethnicity, but overall it’s fairly well covered. A note: Zoe Saldana has never implied that she wasn’t Black. She said that she’s not African American and she’s emphasized that her race should not matter when it comes to roles, though she’s built a solid career on Hollyhood (“Drumline,” “Guess Who,” and “Blackout” to name a few). An ethnicity is land-based, not race based. Any “race” can be an American, just like any “race” can be Latino/Hispanic. Zoe Saldana is Domincan (yes, the other side of the island is Haiti) and Puerto Rican –both places with a sizable Black/African-descent population.

Aside from the ethnicity versus race comments in the article, it’s an insightful look into the politics of image, media and race.

Read more at the Daily Beast

IBWFF Call for Film Submissions!

CALL FOR FILM SUBMISSIONS
INTERNATIONAL BLACK WOMEN’S FILM FESTIVAL
Click to go to web-site/more info: festival.ibwff.com 

ENTRY FORM + INFORMATION: 
festival.ibwff.com

Download the Press Release (PDF)

Regular Deadline
March 10, 2012

ACCEPTED FILMMAKERS NOTIFIED ON:
March 31, 2012

PAY FEE & MAIL DVD TO:
Adrienne Anderson
548 Market St #38322
San Francisco, CA 94104

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS

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Lead character prominently features a woman of African descent/African Diaspora in a non-stereotypical role.

AND

Film may feature the experiences, viewpoints, lifestyles, socio-economic position or stories of Black women, but it is not required for eligibility.

OR

Film was directed and/or produced by a Black woman/woman of the African diaspora (this includes women of the following groups/cultures: Adivasi, Aboriginal Australians, Dravidian, Pilipino Negrito / Ati, Seminole, Dalit, African Latino, Arawak, Carib, Garifuna, “Black Indian”, Black African groups/tribes, East Timorese, Solomon Islander/indigenous Pacific Islander, African/indigenous Caribbean, African Brazilian, indigenous Fijian, indigenous Maori, multi/bi-racial, et al.).

More About Requirements

Films should be timely or directly feature issues, specifically, activities, policies, politics, culture, societal or economic that influence the lives of Black women around the world or in a specific geographical area.

Digital shorts, animation and experimental films may present any issue, but filmmakers should be Black women or prominently feature a Black woman character or issue.

Formatting

All films (digital, animation, etc.) must be transferred onto a DVD for screenings. The IBWFF no longer accepts VHS or BETA tapes!

Online Films for Online Viewing, Only
Online films can be uploaded to a password-protected site; however, if your online film is selected for online viewing, you must upload it to a public web server or your own web server and send a viewing link.

If you’d like your online film to be considered as a “premiere,” then it cannot be available publicly until it is uploaded for an IBWFFviewing link via such services as YouTube, Vimeo, Brightcove, etc.

 

Tia of “Tia & Tamera” shows her newborn son


Many will remember Tia Mowry-Hardrict and her twin sister Tamera Mowry-Housely from the syndicated series “Sister, Sister,” also starring Tim Reid and Jackee Harry, and others know Tia from the current series “The Game” –a spin-off of the cancelled “Girlfriends.”

Well, Tia is officially all grown up –if the sexy storylines in “The Game” didn’t convince you.

US Weekly magazine recently featured her and her now 2-month old son, Cree, and her husband Cory Hardrict.

Take a look at the new baby and catch Tia and Tamera on their own reality series on the Style Channel, “Tia & Tamera,” Mondays at 9/8c.

Nekisa Cooper reunited with Pariah director and producing new film


Nekisa Cooper is the producer of the acclaimed movie Pariah, which wowed audiences at Sundance. Ms. Cooper is being reunited with Pariah director Dee Rees for a thriller called Bolo, which is being carried by Focus Features.

Nekisa Cooper (left) with Pariah director Dee Rees (right)

In addition to Nekisa’s producing projects, she’s also working with first-time director/writer Maris Curran for the independent film, Five Nights in Maine. The film is about an interracial couple in the South whose relationship is incredibly instantly disrupted by tragedy, leaving one to pick up the pieces and discover more about the other.

Ms. Cooper’s production is looking for funding and is on Kickstarter.com (http://kck.st/nzSGZR).

Pariah director Dee Rees signs with WME and works with Viola Davis

Director Dee Rees made a huge splash at Sundance with her feature film Pariah, a coming-of-age film about a young, Black girl discovering her identity. The film was picked up by Focus Features in January 2011.

Riding her the success of Pariah, Dee signed with UTA but found a need to change and is now signed to WME Entertainment. When she signed to Focus Features, she also penned a deal to do another film for them –a thriller called Bolo. The film will pair her back up with Pariah producer Nekisa Cooper, who is also making waves in her own right. (Read August 24, 2011, post.)

Ms. Rees is also in talks for a small screen series (30 minutes) featuring The Help star Viola Davis. The project is still untitled. Ms. Davis will be the lead role. According to Variety.com, “The series is said to be a look at the corruption of a city through the eyesof the headmaster of an exclusive prep school who has her eye on bigger things.”

According to Dee, Pariah is scheduled for release in Winter 2011.

 

Stylist to the Stars L’Toska Powell Passes Away

The Chicago-Sun Times reported that Mrs. L’Toska Powell –stylist to the stars– passed away at 97 years old in Chicago, IL.

L’Toska Powell was there to see the beginnings of African Americans in Hollywood.

The Grenada, Mississippi, native’s family migrated to Chicago, Illinois, 1930’s in search of jobs and a better life. While in Chicago, she was inspired and awed by the thriving Black nightlife that was filled with music, dancing, and glamorous stars. 1930’s Chicago was also home to a growing and bustling mob scene with such crime outfits as the legendary figures as Al Capone and Bugs Moran.

Mrs. Powell was able to carve a niche out of the magnificence of Chicago’s Club DeLisa in the Bronzeville district. African American stars often came through her town and she was able to find an opportunity in doing their hair. Then –as now– few salons would be able to adequately style Black hair, let alone want to do it. She apparently did hair so well that she soon began doing the hair of such stars as Lena Horne, Mahalia Jackson and Dinah Washington.

A graduate from Morgan Park High School, Mrs. Powell studied hair styling under Marjorie Joyner, a protege of the famous Madame C.J. Walker, the nation’s first African American millionaire.

Mrs. Powell is also survived by her nieces Pamela Brown and Patricia Cordell, and her cousins Viola Turrett and Opal Nealy.

A viewing will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Carter Funeral Chapels, 2100 E. 75th St., with a funeral service at the chapels at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Burial is at Lincoln Cemetery at 123rd and Kedzie.