Rhines, Jesse Black Film/White Money

ISBN 13: 9780813522678

Black Film/White Money

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9780813522678: Black Film/White Money
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Why are there so few Black filmmakers who control their own work? Why are there scarcely any Black women behind the camera? What happens to Black filmmakers when they move from independent production to the mainstream? What does it mean for whites to control Black images and their distribution globally? And, was it always so? Could it be different?
In this vivid portrait of their historic and present-day contributions, Jesse Rhines explores the roles African American men and women have played in the motion picture business from 1915 to the present. He illuminates his discussion by carefully linking the history of early Black filmmaking to the current success of African American filmmakers and examines how African Americans have been affected by changes that have taken place in the industry as a whole. He focuses on the crucial role of distribution companies, the difficulty of raising money for production, the compromises that directors and writers must make to get funding, and the effect of negative, sensationalistic images on the Black community. Many well-known directors, including Spike Lee, Reginald Hudlin, and Grace Blake are interviewed in the book, allowing Rhines to give readers an inside look at how deal making does--or does not--work.
Rhines surveys significant eras in film history and their impact on African Americans, from the silent era and the impact of The Birth of a Nation , through the emergence of the Black-owned Lincoln Motion Picture Company, and the later introduction of sound, to the postwar era, the antitrust suit against Paramount Pictures, the introduction of television, and Blaxploitation movies that won audiences back. He brings the story up to date with present-day blockbusters and the success of Spike Lee, who began as an independent and became a force in the industry, and others who hope to follow in Lee's footsteps. Rhines, who has worked behind the camera himself, reflects on independent filmmaking, the risks of both failure and success, and his hope for positive change in the African African community if more African American filmmakers can come to the forefront in the business.

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In this vivid portrait of their historic and present-day contributions, Jesse Rhines explores the roles African American men and women have played in the motion picture business from 1915 to the present.

From Publishers Weekly:

In sober, almost fatigued prose, Rhines, a professor of political economy in the African American and African studies department at Rutgers's Newark campus, traces the roles that African Americans have played-or not played-in all aspects of the movies from 1895 to the present. Rhines efficiently covers an impressive breadth of subjects through considerable original research. He relates an entire troubled history of blacks in cinema from Edison's experiments, silent movies such as The Birth of a Nation and a response to it, Birth of a Race, to Depression and WWII era films, to blaxploitation movies of the '70s such as Shaft and the "gangsta" blockbusters of the '80s and early '90s such as Boyz N the Hood. But Rhines also discusses Hollywood's discriminatory employment practices, the special concerns of black female filmmakers, Spike Lee's failure as a "responsible social critic" and how film distribution "is the greatest obstacle to broad-based success for African American feature filmmakers, film crews, and film cast members." Rhines consistently treats "art" as a product in a "system of economic relations that pits one group against another in the interest of singular economic gain." Neither humanism nor aesthetic experimentation is enough to counteract this colossal problem, he says. Despite this pessimism and his implication that the "system" has a life of its own, Rhines still encourages members of the "black urban underclass" to choose moviemaking as a career. Forty-seven b&w illustrations.

Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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9780813522661: Black Film/White Money

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Publisher: Rutgers University Press, 1996
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