Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: the arts and the black revolution
Notes and discussion: film and the black cultural revolution, pp. 348- PDF (3.4 MB)
than many independent nations in the world. The Negro creative intellectuals cannot make peace with a cultural apparatus that will not take Invisible Man, or any other representative novel, and film it. Whether such works are good, bad or excellent is academic, in view of the millions of dollars wasted annually in filming trash for the movie market. . . . However, any advanced nation that has allowed its inner cultural expression to be so debased and corrupted, deserves nothing less than governmental investigation, correction and control.* Cruse is correct, but he is pursuing a chimera. The creative artist should only partially direct his efforts toward changing the Hollywood attitude. The main effort should be directed toward developing an independent group of black film companies, and an independent way of distributing their films. Unless Black people are themselves able to control the total production of a particular film, Cruse's approach will fail. We have already seen the failure of white liberal attitudes to accurately depict Afro-American reality in film production. Here I refer to films like Imitation of Life, Pinky, Green Pastures, and Home of the Brave. The same tendency to distort the Afro- American reality and personality mars such films as The Defiant Ones, and Lillies of the Field. To be specific, the problems posed by these films are essentially connected with the white man's sensibilities and not the Black man's. Hence, the black audience and the white audience alike are confronted with a glib, guilt-ridden characterization of Afro-American life. On the basis of this analysis, it is impossible to expect an honest and meaningful approach to the filmic presentation of Afro-American life until Black people themselves begin making films. Essentially, we have been allowing an alien sensibility to dominate our view of the world. This domination not only goes for film; it extends into all areas of Afro-American cultural expression. If the civil rights movement had understood the nature of cultural imperialism, it would probably have developed an independent media that would challenge the racist and unrealistic thrust of the communications establishment. Our film, Revolution in Black America, will probably be one of the first films dominated by the sensibility of black creative artists. We intend to make a semi-documentary film on the rise of "Black Consciousness." The film will be produced by American Documentary Films which recently won first prize at the Leipzig Film Festival for the anti-Vietnam war film, Sons and Daughters. It is our intention to document the powerful upsurge in cultural and political awareness on the part of Black America. How did the current Black Revolution come into existence? What are its components, and what kind of dynamic guides it? Who are its spokesmen, both known and unknown? Where is it all going? These are some of the questions we intend to examine filmically. We must show by carefully integrating the filmic elements, how people move from one stage of consciousness to another. This kind of film naturally encounters certain technical problems. The most important of these are transitional. In some cases, we will be forced to use news footage. This footage must be integrated in a manner that is natural and organic to the other elements of the film. 349_ U a ., a U a U a U; .,a U . a U a; .,U a U a U .a *Harold Cruse, The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual, New York, Morrow, 1967, page 111.