'I Will Follow' Director Expanding Distribution of Black Films

'I Will Follow' Director Expanding Distribution of Black Films

A few weeks ago I deemed I Will Follow the best film of the year.

Published January 10, 2011

A few weeks ago I deemed I Will Follow the best film of the year . However, I had many folks asking, "Where can I see this film?" Unfortunately, if you didn't catch it at a film festival, you weren't able to see it.

As a viewer, it's frustrating to hear about these critically acclaimed films but not be able to see them. I remember the days of Kasi Lemmons ' Eve's Bayou - that film wasn't available in a 50-mile radius of where I lived, and when it was, it only played for a week. Well, writer and director of I Will Follow , Ava DuVernay, is trying to change that through her organization, the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM) .

In a recent interview with The New York Times , DuVernay talked about her goal to get Black films in commercial theaters.

The plan is to put black-theme movies in commercial theaters, initially from the independent film program recently begun by the AMC theater chain, for a two-week run supported by social networks, mailing lists and other buzz-building services at the disposal of allied ethnic film festivals.

The films will not be part of normal festival programs, but will screen in all cities simultaneously with promotional backing from the festival organizations, which will share in revenue. The inaugural group of backers is expected to include the Urbanworld Film Festival in New York, the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, the ReelBlack Film Series in Philadelphia, the BronzeLens Film Festival in Atlanta and the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival in Seattle.

This sounds like a brilliant and overdue idea. While Tyler Perry and Spike Lee manage to bring in the cash, they can't be the only ones depicting Black life on film -- I'm sure they don't want to be the only ones.

2010 was a dead year for dramatic Black films.  But, things might be different in 2011. The Sundance Film Festival is featuring several films about African-American life such as Pariah by Dee Rees and Gun Hill Road by Rashaad Ernesto Green .

Hopefully, after Sundance these films will get the chance they deserve.  With the help of Ava DuVernay, this just might happen.

For those of you who still haven't seen I Will Follow , which stars Omari Hardwick from For Colored Girls and Salli Richardson-Whitfield from I Am Legend , the film opens March 11th in New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Atlanta.


Written by Clay Cane


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