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Stepping Out


Seek and You’ll Find

1 Feb, 2012 By: Ashley Ratcliff

I recently had an illuminating conversation with Brett Dismuke, SVP of acquisitions at One Village Entertainment, Image Entertainment’s urban film division, about this quarter’s slate of titles.

I must say, it does my heart proud to see that there are so many films (presently and forthcoming) that portray blacks in a positive, authentic light and relay the various situations that are part of our experience. Whether you enjoy a serious drama (as in All Things Fall Apart, starring Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson), vivid stand-up comedy (see I Ain’t Scared of You: A Tribute to Bernie Mac) or a saucy stage play (a la What My Husband Doesn’t Know), it’s all there for the watching.

It reflects a concerted effort on part of certain studios to provide an assortment of quality urban content.

“It’s been an age-long tale that African Americans in this country have not had the opportunity to see a diverse mix of images that reflect their experience,” Dismuke said. “So it’s important, especially in a day and age where African Americans are only getting four to six major theatrical releases per calendar year, that we (Image/One Village) supply a wealth of content from an independent perspective.”

Urban films are even making their foray into less-chartered genres such as horror. Last year I had the privilege of interviewing Effie T. Brown, the producer of The Inheritance, a horror movie with a predominantly black cast. Image/One Village released it on Blu-ray and DVD in April 2011.

The Inheritance was an excellent film with an intricate yet compelling plot line and persuasive special effects on par with some of the mainstream movies. This, admittedly, came as a surprise to me.

“There’s a misperception in some circles that ‘independent films’ means that they’re bad films, which is not necessarily the case,” Dismuke noted.

I, too, once held that inaccurate belief. That was until I began to explore for myself and found some outstanding movies. The Image/One Village films that I previously mentioned are all examples of great urban storytelling.

By the way, these movies also star talented, respected black actors such as Lynn Whitfield (The Josephine Baker Story), Mario Van Peebles (Ali), Brian White (The Game Plan), Clifton Davis (“Amen”), Golden Brooks (“Girlfriends”), Darrin Dewitt Henson (Stomp the Yard), DB Woodside (“Single Ladies”) and Adriane Lenox (The Blind Side), among others.

My advice to those growing tired of waiting for the next Tyler Perry flick to see our stories on the big screen: Take matters into your own hands and see what’s out there. Like me, you’ll be surprised at the treasure you find.

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