Was 1993 A Banner Year for Black Cinema?

There was an interesting article posted last month on The Grio that looked at the year 1993 and the amount of ‘black’ films that were released during those 12 months. Could there be another renaissance coming 20 years later?

When we talk about films starring, directed, or produced by people of color being released in theaters, it usually revolves around the dearth of such films. This is in large part due to a lack of financing many filmmakers of color simply don’t have access to. Although in recent years that has changed a bit with crowdfunding, it is still a rather large hurdle to overcome.

What makes 1993 so unique was the plethora of ‘black’ films that hit the screen that year. It was as if someone parted the seas and gave these films passage to the big screen instead of taking the all to common straight to video route.

There were biographies like “What’s Love Got To Do With It,” starring Angela Bassett as Tina Turner. There were comedies such as “Cool Runnings” and “Sister Act 2,” which starred Whoopi Goldberg. And then there were the inner-city dramas like “Menace II Society,” and “Poetic Justice,” starring Janet Jackson and the late Tupac Shakur.

Many look at the early 90s and 1993 in particular as a time when ‘black’ films had a higher chance of getting major distribution deals then at any point before or since. Do you agree? Here’s the original article.

48 Years After His Death, Malcolm’s Legacy Lives On in Media

When we talk about the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, there are a few names that stand above the rest. Dr. Martin Luther King. Rosa Parks. Jesse Jackson. All very important and influential people. However, it could be said that the legacy of Malcolm X — perhaps not as clean cut as those other Civil Rights icons — is no less important and should not be treated as such. Fortunately for Malcolm, on this day 48 years after his assassination, his legacy is more than just a man known as a fire-and-brimstone orator, but as a man whose rise and conversion later in life was nothing short of remarkable.

In 1992, the biographical film “Malcolm X” was released starring Denzel Washington as Malcolm X and directed by Spike Lee. The film portrayed a man far deeper than just the angry dude pointing his finger in most textbooks. In the film we see a young Malcolm terrified as the Ku Klux Klan burns a cross on his lawn at his home in Nebraska. We see Malcolm’s maturation from a young hustler, to an educated prisoner, and eventually into one of the key leaders for the nation of Islam. Along the way we watch Malcolm become transformed with a pilgrimage to Mecca. Finally, there’s the dramatic scene of Malcolm’s death.

Personally, I thought the film was well done. Denzel was of course excellent, and I felt Spike did a good job of showing the audience the different moods and complexities of Malcolm X. Too often it becomes easy to label people –especially historical figures– through the narrow prism of good, bad, or insignificant. “Malcolm X” doesn’t allow for such easy assertions.

It’s worth noting that while filming “Malcolm X” Spike Lee went over the initial budget set by the studio and hence was fighting to secure more money to get the film released. Warner Brothers refused to pony up more cash and that’s when some well known African Americans stepped up and contributed to the project. Micheal Jordan, Magic Johnson, Bill Cosby, Janet Jackson, and Prince, were just some of the people who contributed to making this movie a reality.

“Malcolm X” was critically acclaimed upon release and opened many people’s eyes (including mine) to who he was and the legacy he left behind. 48 years later after his death, people continue to be educated.