Sara Ahmed argues that institutions often attach failure to the individuals failed by them; the minoritised complainant who speaks out against discrimination is labelled as the cause and source of the problem. In order to maintain post-racial mythology (and elide the decolonising gaze), the complainant is stigmatised, silenced and excluded. Such conditions of social membershipContinue reading “Pandemics, Posthumanism and Potentiality: Neasa Hardiman’s Sea Fever”
In 1957, the actor John Cassavetes decided to make Shadows, a film developed through a series of acting workshops: “We did everything wrong, technically…. The only thing we did right was to get a group of people together who were young, full of life, and wanted to do something of meaning.” In response to itsContinue reading “John Cassavetes’ Shadows: A Snapshot of the Mixed-Race Experience”
One of the first feature films by an African-American woman is Kathleen Collins’s 1982 masterpiece Losing Ground. The film is unique in many respects, not least for its centralisation of the black bourgeoisie. Losing Ground is a rare example of a feminist film focused on a complex, intellectual and reserved black female protagonist. Through itsContinue reading “Forgotten Filmmakers: Kathleen Collins’s Losing Ground”
Recent shifts towards populist, xenophobic politics have broken the ‘post-race’ illusion and made it painfully clear that we still live in racialised realities. As Michael Omi notes, race is still ‘a fundamental organising principle of individual identity and collective action’ (1996: 179). In particular, the events of 2020 led to a mainstream acknowledgement that raceContinue reading “New Black Horror: Get Out”
Métisse [Mixed-Race] (Kassovitz, France, 1993) adheres to the ethics of beur cinema by reimagining the French nuclear family as black, mixed and white through its central characters. As a pioneering work it is flawed but, by directly engaging with issues of race, class, gender and sexuality, the film challenges the culturally embedded assumptions of itsContinue reading “Mixed-Race Melodrama: Métisse”
University-set Dear White People (Simien, USA, 2014) exploits a familiar trope by dealing with racial politics through the mixed female body. Sam White (Tessa Thompson) is a media student in love with white Gabe (Justin Dobies), dating black Reggie (Marque Richardson), and ashamed of her mixed identity. In order to fit in with the blackContinue reading “Race as Performance: Dear White People”
Lost Boundaries (Werker, 1949) is an exception in the post-war melodrama as it chooses not to focus on the female or the individual, but on the attempts of an entire mixed-race family to ‘pass’. Based on a true story and adapted from William L. White’s 1948 novel, its protagonist is Dr Scott Carter (Mel Ferrer).Continue reading “The Post-War Passing Film: Lost Boundaries”
The classic Hollywood mixed female ‘passer’ is generally male-dependent and gripped by fear that her lover/boss/maid will discover her secret and ruin her. The endurance of this template is evidenced by the deadly desperation of mixed protagonists in Perfect Stranger, The Crying Game and Devil in a Blue Dress. In I Passed for White (Wilcox,Continue reading “Racial Passing in the Classic Hollywood Melodrama”
American entertainer Josephine Baker was the first multigenerational mixed actress to grace French cinema screens in the 1920s and quickly became a star. Baker’s life and art reflected her multiplicity. She started off in vaudeville in New York where she achieved success but faced limitations as a designated black woman. Having left the States toContinue reading “Josephine Baker’s French Films”
In France, comedy has been deployed in a range of race-based films tackling subjects from slavery – Case Départ (Steketee, Eboué and N’gijol, 2011) – and institutional discrimination – Intouchables (Nakache and Toledano, 2011) – to everyday racism – Qu’est-ce qu’on a fait au Bon Dieu? (de Chauveron, 2014; 2019) – with the sub-genre gainingContinue reading “France’s Colonial Narratives”
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