American films bring culture to theaters


Time and time again, Hollywood has come up short when it comes to maintaining diverse story lines and cast members. Films featuring prominent African American leads are rarely part of the mainstream movie scene.

However, Tinsel Town has seen a series of releases in the past year that emphasize African American plots.
These films include “12 Years a Slave,” “Fruitvale Station” and Lee Daniel’s “The Butler.”

Films such as these started a trend becoming known as “Hollywood’s African American film renaissance.”
These were just a few of the compelling Black stories that hit the Box Office in late 2013.

Why such notoriety now?

Some believe having a Black president in the White House has made people more open to seeing African Americans on the big screen.

“Obama is used as a catalyst for Black America’s success,” said Harvey Weinstein in an interview via The Wrap’s website.

Another factor may be the friction caused by the not guilty verdict of George Zimmerman in the Trevon Martin murder trial.

This may have brought to the attention of all Americans that social and racial injustices still exist today.

Movies such as “Fruitvale Station,” which illustrated the murder of a young Black man at the hands of a white cop in Oakland, may have opened the lines of communication, which allow writers to inform the world about the African-American experience in America.

People want familiarity and won’t pay to see story lines they don’t understand or can’t identify with.

The overall goal is to make telling stories more clear for a general audience. Hollywood had seen an increase of films featuring African American characters and themes in the past.

Films such as “Boyz ‘N’ The Hood,” “Waiting to Exhale,” “Malcolm X” and a handful of other films received nationwide recognition in the 1990s.

We saw it even earlier with the so-called “blacksploitation” film era in the 1970s when such films as “Let’s Do it Again,” “Coffy” and “Cooley High” portrayed urban life on the big screen, which was unseen at that time.

“It should have happened a long time ago-but it’s finally happening now,” said Weinstein in The Wrap interview.

Gil Robertson, co-founder of the African-American Film Critic Association told CNN: “I think the American attitude has changed with regards to going to see films that perhaps feature all black cast that tell black stories.”

For the past 40 years, Hollywood has seen the “trend” of black cinema but that devastating flame would constantly burn out.

Hopefully, this recent boom will be more than just a flash in the pan.