Since the success of Patrik Ian-Polk’s “Noah’s Arc” (an extension of his Logo television series about four black, gay men living and loving inLos Angeles) back in 2005 we haven’t really seen many black, gay characters on Logo or otherwise. But it looks like that may be changing. If you look towards the queer cinema industry you might be surprised to know that there have been a number of films getting major publicity this year that focus on the black, gay experience.
I’ve written about these films before on Queer Corner, but thought I’d give a quick update on some of the black queer cinema that’a making some noise in the film world right now.
Dee Rees’s groundbreaking, semi-autobiographical film about the life of a black lesbian in Brooklyn’s gay underground has been around for some time. It started as a short film five years ago, but with the help of some well known actors and an executive producer credit from Spike Lee himself, it has more recently been making waves on the mainstream film festival scene. It was a top pick by critics at the Toronto Film Festival as well as Sundance, where it won the Excellence in Cinematography Award.
The film is a stark coming of age story featuring Alike (Adepero Oduye) who is dealing with the turmoil of coming to terms with her sexuality. Her parents (played by Kim Wayans and Charles Parnell) are extremely homophobic making it all the more difficult for her to come to grips with her true self. The film’s tag line says it all: “What do you become when you can’t be yourself?”
Focus Features is giving the film a limited release in select theatres on December 28. If marketed properly I think we could see Rees at the 2012 Academy Awards.
“Finding Me: Truth”
Just a couple months ago, Roger Omeus Jr. released a sequel to his popular 2009 film, “FindingMe.” Omeus tells the story of Faybien (RayMartell Moore), an out, yet still confused, young professional living out the dramas of his love life and his friends Greg (Eugene E. Turner), Amera (J’Nara Corbin) and Jay (Maurice Murrell), in Jersey City. The sequel, “Finding Me: Truth,” is considered more of a re-visioning rather than an extension of the first. According to reviews, each character gets their own intricate storyline, all of which comes to an explosive head at a final dinner party. The reviews have been mixed, at best, but the film and its popular soundtrack have been getting major buzz on the queer film festival circuit.
Ever since Patrik-Ian Polk announced he’d started work on his next feature film at the beginning of this year, die hard fans of black, gay cinema haven’t talked of much else. From early reviews it looks like the film is going to follow much of the same structure as “Noah’s Arc” and “Punks.” Five friends and the dramas of their love lives. But this time the four friends are a little younger (mid to late twenties) and they’re all converging on NYC Pride for a post-college reunion.
“The Skinny” was set for a fall 2011 release date but funding issues have stalled post production. In hopes of getting more investors, Polk put out an open letter about his progress back in September. “The Skinny TRAILER has been viewed 30,000 times. If I got just $1 per view, I could finish this movie,” he said.
Please support black queer cinema. These filmmakers have made a bold commitment to making sure our stories are told, a task that’s not always easy in the modern film making community.
Think there’s a film missing from this list? Tell me about it in the comments!