Three Silent Classics By Josef Von Sternberg (Underworld / Last Command / Docks of New York) (The Criterion Collection)

Vienna-born, New York–raised Josef von Sternberg (Shanghai Express, Morocco) directed some of the most influential, extraordinarily stylish dramas ever to come out of Hollywood. Though best known for his star-making collaborations with Marlene Dietrich, Sternberg began his movie career during the final years of the silent era, dazzling audiences and critics with his films’ dark visions and innovative cinematography. The titles in this collection, made on the cusp of the sound age, are three of Sternberg’s greatest works, gritty evocations of gangster life (Underworld), the Russian Revolution (The Last Command), and working-class desperation (The Docks of New York) made into shadowy movie spectacle. Criterion is proud to present these long unavailable classics of American cinema, each with two musical scores. UNDERWORLD Sternberg’s riveting breakthrough is widely considered the film that launched the American gangster genre; it earned legendary scribe Ben Hecht a best original story Oscar the first year the awards were given. 1927 • 81 minutes • Black & White • Silent with stereo scores • 1.33:1 aspect ratio THE LAST COMMAND Emil Jannings won the first best actor Academy Award for his performance as an exiled Russian military officer turned Hollywood actor, whose latest part—a czarist general—brings about his emotional downfall. 1928 • 88 minutes • Black & White • Silent with stereo scores • 1.33:1 aspect ratio THE DOCKS OF NEW YORK A roughneck stoker falls hard for a wise and weary dance hall girl in this expressionistic portrait of lower-class waterfront folk, one of the most exquisitely crafted films of its era. 1928 • 75 minutes • Black & White • Silent with stereo scores • 1.33:1 aspect ratio

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.

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.

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

Amandla Stenberg will star alongside Dayo Okeniyi and Lenny Kravitz for futuristic thrilller

Young, rising star Amandla Stenberg is already busy lining up her films. As a relative newcomer, she’s already  got some top roles in major motion pictures.

Lions Gate, in conjunction with producer Color Force, is bringing author Suzanne Collins’ book (“The Hunger Games“) to the big screen. The cast is made up primarily of newcomers and unknowns, but the buzz is that this futuristic thriller will make the careers of some cast members whose roles are anchored by some of Hollywood’s elite.

Amandla Stenberg will play the role of Rue alongside Dayo Okeniyi, Lenny Kravitz, Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, and others. According to IMDB.com, “The Hunger Games” is:

(i)n a not-too-distant future, North America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war, to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year, two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcasted throughout Panem as the 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss’ young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart, Peeta, the son of the town baker who seems to have all the fighting skills of a lump of bread dough, will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives.

Amandla is also starring as the young Cataleya Restrepo (starring Zoe Saldana), an assassin in the film “Colombiana.”

Colombiana is will be released this year, and The Hunger games will be released in 2012.

Judi Shekoni and Tracey Heggens star as sisters in new Twilight movie

The Twilight film franchise finally introduces Black vampire sisters from an Amazon coven in their latest series “Twilight: Breaking Dawn” (Parts 1 and 2).

According to an interview with Twilightish, the Amazon clan is led by the beautiful, 5’10”, Judith “Judi” Shekoni, a Brit of African and Spanish heritage. She’ll play the juicy part of Zafrina, the leader of the glamazons. One of her sisters will be played by “Things Fall Apart” and “Medicine for Melancholy” alumna, Tracey Heggens, whose character is named Senna.

Both films are in post-production, and Part 1 of “Breaking Dawn” is set for release this year (2011).

 

MUBI Lists: Voodoo or Santeria, Somebody’s Gonna Get It

I love a good horror movie.

The best ones are low on gore and high on fright. The scariest ones are the ones where you say to yourself, “That’s not funny. That could actually happen.”

Along with vampires, Hollywood loves a good zombie …and so do I. Aside from the occasional nuclear meltdown, laboratory accident or disease, it seems that in Hollywood, voodoo is a pretty good zombie manufacturer. First, aside from being right with the Lord (as my cousin would say), you have to also be able to separate fact from fiction and stereotype from storytelling. First, go into this list knowing that it’s all crap when it comes to authenticity. Second, the films are good…even if they’re really bad.

So just wrap your head around the fact that voodoo (voudun) is one of the most maligned religions. It has  its history in West Africa —especially, Benin and Nigeria.

Whether you’re a believer or not, you know one thing from the movies in this list…and that’s somebody’s gonna get got in the end…preferably by zombies.

Producer Candice Afia’s “Patient Zero” Goes Viral

Producer Candice Afia’s film “Patient Zero” is getting rave reviews and was selected as an Official Selection at the Newport Beach Film Festival and is screening as a short at the internationally renowned Cannes Film Festival in France.

This short film is a dramatic thriller where two doctors must decide how to stop a peculiar disease from spreading. How far will these doctors go for the greater good…?

Coming to screen near you!

Can Sistas Get Some Props… Please?

It’s bad enough that the new swarm of reality series populating NBC, VH-1, and Bravo, are carbon copies of series where Black women viciously attack one another over seemingly mind-numbing issues like talent (or lack thereof), clothing (or lack thereof), and a job (or lack thereof); but while we were distracted with that, we failed to see the trickling of biters that have been stealing the look, style, and features of Black women who shine in film, television, and music.

We all know how badly the American and European public talked about our rumps up until the early-1990’s when rapper and DJ Sir Mix-a-lot created a parody song celebrating le derrière suprême of Black women. MTV played the video until it became a monster hit on cable video stations and in clubs.

Then, emerging star (and former “In Living Color” Fly Girl) Jennifer Lopez magically received media approval for her gluteus maximus. Even Black men were publicly proclaiming her butt as a work of art –while suspiciously ignoring Black women with comparable and favorable public proclamation. There were tweets about her butt, rap lyrics, and more.

Then came Angelina Jolie’s lips… the same type of lips that had gotten Black women teased, dissed, ignored and scowled at. The same lips that drew comments like soup coolers, DSLs, and other crude and derogatory terms; but somehow Angelina Jolie made them haute couture.

So now it seems that some non-Black women are swiping our looks…again.

As all of these women are beautiful in their own right, it seems like Black women just can’t get any respect for our unique beauty, our fashion innovation, our style, or our physical appearance, without someone wanting to co-op it to push their own career.

So here’s to the new crop of biters. Take a look and tell me what you think…

 

Paula Patton to star in Mission Impossible franchise

 

Actress Paula Patton

Actress Paula Patton (Precious) will star alongside A-list actor Tom Cruise in the latest installment in the Mission Impossible franchise: “Mission:Impossible – Ghost Protocol”.

“Mission:Impossible” apparently is one of the few franchises left that will actually hire Black actresses, so when they do feature us, our careers sky rocket. (Remember when Thandie Newton’s career went off like a bottle rocket after starring in the franchise?)

Hopefully, this film will set her back on track, especially given her knock out performance in the award-winning film, “Precious.”

“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” is set for release December 16, 2011.

Casting Call

DISCLAIMER: This event is NOT sponsored or hosted by the IBWFF. This is a re-post. As with any audition or casting call announcement, you are strongly encouraged to use your best judgment in attending an audition or casting call. It is your responsibility to contact local authorities if you suspect illegal activities, exploitation or violence from the hosts, attendees or other parties in attendance

JLK Publishing and Black River Press
Present
A casting call for the upcoming movie trailer

 

PLEASE COME PREPARED WITH A 1-MINUTE DRAMATIC MONOLOGUE

Thursday, March 31 · 2:00pm – 5:00pm
620 Glen Iris – Conference room/lobby level Atlanta, GA. 30308

  • Scheduled appointments between 2:00PM – 6:00PM
  • Open casting call will take place between 6:00PM – 9:00PM

Please set an appointment prior to the open casting call.

Don’t miss the opportunity to be on the ground floor in the creation of this science-fiction thriller that is being shown to network executives!

Contact Casting Associate Porsha Huff to schedule appointments
at porshahff@nullyahoo.com or call at #: 1-678-235-8798

Casting Location: Ponce Springs Lofts
620 Glen Iris – Conference room/lobby level
Atlanta, GA. 30308
PARKING: Garage (visitors)
DATE: Thursday, March 31, 2011

Please bring head-shots and resume with you to the casting!

This project is being directed by Shandra McDonald-Bradford.

And the Winnies Go To…

Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard will star in the movie Winnie, about South African activist and legend Winnie Mandela. As I reported in 2009, the Creative Workers of South Africa boycotted the movie not on the terms that they didn’t like Ms. Hudson’s acting, but on the terms that the movie failed to hire local Africans in front of and behind the camera. Since I haven’t seen Jennifer Hudson in anything except Dreamgirls and “American Idol,” I will wait to give my opinion.

However, Americans seemed to have missed the commanding performance of British actress Sophie Okonedo in the BAFTA-award nominated, BBC mini-series, “Mrs. Mandela.” Here are both trailers of the iron souled (and controversial) queen of the anti-apartheid movement Winne Mandela.

Winnie

Mrs. Mandela

Mrs. Goundo’s Daughter to Air on PBS Feb. 9th

According to an announcement from Women Make Movies:

“Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater’s stirring film, MRS. GOUNDO’S DAUGHTER, will premiere nationally on AfroPop: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange, on PBS, February 9, in honor of the United Nation’s International Day of Zero Tolerance to end Female Genital Mutilation (February 6).

The film tells the story of one mother’s fight for political asylum in the United States in order to protect her daughter from the traditional practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) and the legal ramifications of doing so.”

  • Female genital mutilation (FGM) includes procedures that intentionally alter or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
  • The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women.
  • Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later, potential childbirth complications and newborn deaths.
  • An estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM.
  • It is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15 years.
  • In Africa an estimated 92 million girls from 10 years of age and above have undergone FGM.
  • FGM is internationally recognized as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

There are few who have addressed this issue publicly due to the social and cultural stigma attached to those still practicing FGM and those who feel pressure from their communities to have their daughters go through an often unsanitary and traumatic experience that plagues girls and women for the rest of their lives.

the United Nations Population Fund claims that, “Female genital mutilation, or cutting, predates Christianity and Islam – it is thought to have originated in the time of the pharaohs,” but there’s no concrete evidence of this. What is true is that FGM is a social practice –not a religious one– and it is practiced in primarily Muslim countries or in immigrant Muslim communities including  in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.

More about Female Genital Mutilation:

Bennie Pearl Brown memorial fund supports black women in film, “Glory Days” project

According to InsightNews.com, Bennie Pearl Brown, age 85, of Minneapolis., passed away January 14, 2011, and the family requests donations be made in support of “Glory Days: A Tradition of Achievement,” a documentary film history of Black Women in development for public television. Tax deductible contributions made payable to “Glory Days the Film” with “Bennie Pearl Brown Legacy Fund” on the memo line can be sent to: “Honor Thy Mother” Bennie Pearl Brown Legacy Fund, c/o New York Women in Film & Television, 6 East 39th St, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10016. For information on the film, email GloryDays@nullJanusAdams.com.

for questions on the fund, email Irma McClaurin: mcclaurinsolutions@nullgmail.com. You may also contribute to the Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, 2600 E. 38th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55406 in memory of Bennie Pearl Brown.

You can read more at InsightNews.com

Faces to See in 2011

Television has a horribly low number of Black women and this season is no different. Even with one of the highest viewed programs written by a Black woman (Shonda Rhimes for Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice), Black actresses can’t seem to get a break.

The bright side is that there are some faces that are representing Black women in television –now that Queen Oprah is switching gears.

Here are our picks to watch in 2011 (our tweaked list from the Daily Dish):

When is Somebody Gonna Remake This Movie?: Buck & the Preacher

With the build up and buzz around the Cohen brothers’ movie True Grit, it’s obvious that the American movie psyche still has a tast for a well made American Western. There’s something about the mythic unknown of the American push out west. Of course reality knows that the expansion included some pretty nasty attempts at genocide against the indigenous population, but for some reason everyone likes to gloss over that part… or if it’s addressed at all, Native Americans are usually on the losing team.

Even though we know that the Old West wasn’t all butter and cream, there are some thoughtful, well made stories surrounding it. Ever since Spaghetti Westerns and Peckinpah epics rewrote the western on screen we’ve been fascinated about the violence, outlaw characters, and the underdog.

There have been a number of westerns featuring Blacks, but many have been forgotten.

Black Westerns in the 1930’s

According to film historian Donald Bogle’s book Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: The Story of Black Hollywood
there were westerns featuring  –and often directed and produced by– African American stars as early as the 1930’s. These films included Bronze Buckaroo, Harlem Rides The Range, and Harlem on the Prairie , to name a few. (The word “Harlem” wasn’t just a location in New York, but it was also a euphemism for someone “Black” to easily designate it as race film.)

Black Westerns Become Less Popular

The Black western lost popularity as Sunday serials waned in movie theaters. Films that came out during the 1940’s and 1950’s and featured actors like John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Gary Cooper and James Stewart, became more complex in their views of American West. The characters were written as flawed humans, but they still kept the manifest destiny ethos in their roles as anti-heroes. Westerns were costly to make and required stunt people, animals, new sets and period costumes, that many Black filmmakers didn’t have available. During the 1950’s, Black films veered into another popular film genre during this time period: Musicals.

Black Western Revival & Civil Rights

It wasn’t until the 1960’s and 1970’s when the anti-hero Western character began to incorporate real images of the old west, namely, violence, the subjugation of women, realistic Mexican characters that were heroes and villains, discrimination against Native Americans and government mistrust. Film historians note that this change in focus was mainly due to the introduction of “foreign” films from Japan that featured samurai heroes and villains who used violence to underscore the violent era. (The Magnificent Seven, Seven Samurai starring Yul Brenner was a direct western translation from Akira Kurosawa’s  . The quintessential Spaghetti Western movie A Fistful of Dollars starring  Clint Eastwood was a direct western [albeit Italian] remake of Kurosawa’s Yojimbo.)

Akira Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai

Now that stories in the western genre were being retold with more historical references –such as Little Big Man starring Dustin Hoffman– Black actors and screenwriters saw an opportunity to tell their own stories from the wild west. The 1960’s and 1970’s were also seeing an upswing in films featuring Black people due to the efforts of civil rights and Black empowerment organizations who put pressure on Hollywood to show more Black representation in movies.

Actor Sidney Poitier had seen westerns while growing up in Nassau. Even though he wasn’t born anywhere near the American west, he was “transfixed” by actors such as Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. It wasn’t until he did more research about the real American west that he understood the impact and achievements of Blacks in the old west, especially such African Americans as Nat Love (better known by his cowboy nickname of Deadwood Dick), frontier woman Mary “Stagecoach Mary” Fields, Cherokee Bill, and others.

Nat "Deadwood Dick" Love

In 1972, Sidney Poitier directed and starred in the film Buck and the Preacher, which also starred Ruby Dee and Harry Belafonte. Buck and the Preacher was remarkable for audience goers because the last time they’d seen a western starring Black actors was during the 1930’s …and those films were in segregated theaters and targeted to a very specific audience. This film was the first time that integrated movie goers had experienced the Old West from a Black viewpoint, and one in which the Black characters weren’t shuffling buffoons and used as comedy relief for the “real” white hero or heroine.

Sidney Poitier’s film also introduced a gun slinging Black heroine (in the role of Ruby Dee) and hinted at the results of miscegenation through Harry Belafonte’s character. The main character (played by Poitier) was a leader, a diplomat who had contact with surrounding Indian tribes, and was vengeful against his oppressors. None of these features had been so blatantly portrayed by a Black actor in the history of Blacks in westerns.

Buck and the Preacher spurred other stories about Blacks in the west, including Thomasine & Bushrod (starring Vonetta McGee and Max Julien), the television series “The Biography of Miss Jane Pittman” (starring Cicely Tyson), and others. Many of the Black westerns following Buck and the Preacher got caught up in the Blaxploitation era of films and lost their impact –and opportunity– to tell an accurate or truthful story of Blacks in the West.

Black Westerns Back in Decline

Later films in the 1980’s and 1990’s took on the Black western theme, but none had the impact of Buck and the Preacher. Many of the characters were sensationalized, inaccurate and buffoon-ized.

Since Hollywood thinks that True Grit is worth remaking, I am putting my hat in the ring to push for a remake of Buck and the Preacher.

You’re welcome.

BOO: 21 Jump Street in Production

The Good News: That teen 80’s cult super show “21 Jump Street” is being made into a movie. The Bad News: There’s not one Black woman in site.

Things may change, but currently the only cast members confirmed are: Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill and …wait for it… Julianne Hough. Um, yeah…

Granted, casting for a remake isn’t always true to the original (that is, characters change, new characters are added, and old characters are eliminated all together), but what a slap in the face to take the Black woman role away for the remake. (Yes, I can hear the cogs turning back progress on hiring actresses of color –for anything.)

If anyone remembers “21 Jump Street,” it was a true bit of teen pop angst, 80’s-style.

Big hair, neon colors and mullets-du jour, every teeny bopper tuned into the series. Holly Robinson-Peete (then just Holly Robinson), was the perfect complement to co-stars Johnnie Depp and Peter DeLuise.  She was hip, trendy-looking (with big curly hair and denim jackets) and never appeared to be a “token” cast member… she just was. Her presence was natural and expected.

Hopefully the producers of the “21 Jump Street” movie will get a clue that Americans are used to seeing Black women in the workplace, so why isn’t she working on the big screen?