Recently, "Night Catches Us" actor, Anthony Mackie made some eye-brow raising comments concerning black filmmakers and black Hollywood that's generated some buzz online and off. Here's one comment that's got people talking and bloggers blogging:
"I think right now, we are being kinda lazy on our game...There are enough brothers with distribution deals and production deals where we should be making our own movies.."
It's the "lazy" part that's pissed people off, but hear it for yourself in The Grio's interview below.
Then later in an interview, talk show host Tavis Smiley gives Mackie an opportunity to further explain his previous comments and share his opinion on the state of black filmmaking:
In that interview is where I really pause to look at Mackie kinda crazy. Asking where is Spike Lee, John Singleton, and the Hughes Brothers as if they've been sitting on their asses for the last couple of years ain't cute nor is it an accurate judgment.
In the past 3 years, which isn't that long, Spike gave us "Miracle At St. Anna", Hughes Brothers did "Book of Eli". Singleton stepped out of the typical black film genre and gave audiences, "Illegal Tender," a Hispanic mafia film centered around a female character. So has Mackie been so busy that he missed these films or does he feel these directors should be doing more?
What I totally agree with Mackie on is the fact that there is enough black talent and wealth in the industry to produce more quality films. HOWEVER, based on our current collective behavior at the box office, I really question whether the black audience will financially support them. More and more, we as movie goers are forgoing the theater and waiting for DVD or cable when it comes to movies for us by us.
That said, why should a filmmaker make a film knowing full well he or she's film will not make a profit nor even break even? And though Mackie may be willing to work for nothing based on the strength of the project, many name actors will not. Honestly, how many people actually BUY films with a cast of unrecognizable up-and-comers? The reality is, generally, black audiences don't see filmmaking as a business but as solely an art form.
Lastly, whether you agree with Mackie's comments are not, the truth is we ALL as black filmmakers and black audience members play a significant role in the success or failure of black filmmaking. The question is, how do we best support each other?