News / Arts & Entertainment

    Minority Filmmakers Struggle at Edges of Hollywood

    Minority Filmmakers Struggle at Edges of Hollywoodi
    X
    February 26, 2016 4:28 AM
    The red carpet is out and the stars will be gathering in Hollywood on Sunday for the annual Academy Awards, or Oscars. Many have criticized the lack of diversity among this year's nominees, but as Mike O'Sullivan reports, there is another side of the movie industry that is more diverse than the Hollywood players on display at the Oscars.

    The red carpet is out and the stars will be gathering in Hollywood on Sunday for the annual Academy Awards, or Oscars.  Most winners will be white, with the possible exception of Latin American director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who may well take the Oscar for his frontier saga The Revenant.

    The lack of racial and ethnic diversity has drawn intense criticism, including a complaint from the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which presents the Oscars.  Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is African American, said she is “heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion” among this year's nominees. 

    Minority actors, directors and writers are part of the movie industry, even though under-represented in major releases.  The hip-hop tale Straight Outta Compton earned a nomination only for its writers, who are white.  The boxing saga Creed had a black director, writers and star, but its only nomination went to Sylvester Stallone, a frontrunner for an Oscar as best supporting actor.  The Africa-war drama Beasts of No Nation was expected to bring an Oscar nod for actor Idris Elba, but did not.

    FILE - Actor Idris Elba. The Africa-war drama Beasts of No Nation was expected to bring an Oscar nod for actor Idris Elba, but did not.
    FILE - Actor Idris Elba. The Africa-war drama Beasts of No Nation was expected to bring an Oscar nod for actor Idris Elba, but did not.

    Outside the mainstream

    But there is a side of the industry that is more diverse than the Hollywood players on display at the Oscars.  It includes the Cameroon-born actress and producer Constance Ejuma, who is showing her film Ben & Ara at film festivals worldwide. 

    Ben & Ara tells the tale of two graduate students, a young man who is an atheist and young woman who is a Muslim.  The film stars Ejuma and Joseph Baird, who also wrote the script dealing with relationships, faith, family and cultural tensions. 

    It's a love story that addresses many themes, Ejuma said.  It is “inter-racial, inter-cultural, inter-religious.  I think people can relate to all or one of those three things,” she added, “so it is very relevant for our times.”

    The film Echo Park stars Tony Okungbowa, a British-Nigerian actor and producer, and is set in a fast-changing neighborhood of Los Angeles.  It deals with universal themes of love and conflict, noted Okungbowa, who prefers films like this, in which the story is “the important part and the actors can be interchanged with any culture.”

    Red Carpet Being Readied for Oscarsi
    X
    VOA News
    February 25, 2016 11:10 PM
    Crews are already rolling out the red carpet in front of Hollywood's Dolby Theatre ahead of Sunday's award ceremony.

    Echo Park is being distributed by ARRAY, a film collective started by director Ava DuVernay, whose 2014 historical drama Selma told the story of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.  Selma won an Oscar for its original song “Glory.”

    DuVernay is a rarity in Hollywood, a mainstream director who is African American and female.

    FILE - Director and executive producer Ava DuVernay poses at a screening of the film "Selma" during AFI Fest 2014 in Hollywood, California, Nov. 11, 2014.
    FILE - Director and executive producer Ava DuVernay poses at a screening of the film "Selma" during AFI Fest 2014 in Hollywood, California, Nov. 11, 2014.

    More diverse films needed

    But Tony Okungbowa says the the issue of diversity goes beyond individual movie makers and movies.  “While there were some films that could have been recognized this year,” he said, “the bigger issue is there are not enough films being made that have diverse characters in them.”

    Financing and distribution are difficult, but international and minority artists in Hollywood are getting their films made, often with help from friends and family, and crowd-funding sites on the Internet.  Constance Ejuma said “we do have a responsibility, people in my shoes, to continue telling our stories regardless of whether or not we have the support of the mainstream.”

    A new study from the University of Southern California confirms that women and minorities are under-represented in major movies and television.   Filmmakers Ejuma and Okungbowa say that mainstream Hollywood, and awards shows like the Oscars, have some catching up to do to reflect the diversity that is already present in the industry. 

    Ben & Ara has upcoming festival showings in Venice and and Cameroon.  Echo Park has theatrical openings scheduled for Los Angeles and New York.  

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    New in Music Alley

    Take It From The Top: Stanley Jordani
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    May 17, 2016 5:01 PM
    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously. He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.

    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously.  He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.

     

     

     

     

    Blogs

    African Music Treasures