Tag Archives: Sundance Film Festival

black lgbt artsy event: san francisco: 4/21/11: tongues untied film screening @ GLBT History Museum

**Updated Info Below**

One of the perks working at the Ann Arbor District Library was having an unlimited amount of time to check out materials. I abused that policy. Especially with DVD’s. Marlon Riggs‘s film Black Is Black Ain’t stayed on my work desk for about a month. I accidentally discovered the film shelving a documentary. The cover caught me. I flipped it over to the back. The description read:

BLACK IS… BLACK AIN’T is an unabashedly frank look at black identity in America. In his final project before losing his battle with AIDS, acclaimed director Marlon Riggs challenges the traditional definition of blackness while issuing a ringing call to African-Americans to celebrate diversity within the community.

A powerful and intelligent critique of racism, sexism, and homophobia, the film trains a bright spotlight on the exclusiveness and rigidity of the black institutions of family, church, and community.

Winner of the Sundance Film Festival‘s Director’s Trophy, BLACK IS… BLACK AIN’T is embracing and at moments mystical.

Black Is Black Ain’t shows there isn’t one Black experience. Intermixed with commentary from Bill T. Jones, Essex Hemphill, bell hooks, Cornel West, and Angela Davis is an un-tutorial on creole cooking and Riggs tied to machines battling AIDS and shots of Riggs running naked in the woods. His running in the woods naked represents vulnerability and “yearning to break free of confining notions of identity into an open, inclusive embrace of all that black is,” according to Riggs.  The reoccurring “motif reinforces the underlying point of the film.”

Cover of "Tongues Untied"

Cover of Tongues Untied

One of the best moments of the film for me was discovering Essex Hemphill. Hemphill was a black gay poet and activist best known for his book, Ceremonies.  Ceremonies addressed “the sexual objectification of black men in white culture.” Hemphill reads his poem, I Cannot Come Home As I Am, which talks about his relationship between him and his father and the distance that being black and gay can force in

between families. His voice still follows me around. Lines from his poems tied in the gay/black experience to the black experience.

Silence is
Our deadliest weapon
We both use it.

Riggs asks, “if people are like gumbo, then what is the roux, that special ingredient that binds and gives everything its unique flavor? Riggs refuses to tell us; he keeps his recipe for roux secret.” “Like gumbo, black communities are made up of many contrasting ingredients. Riggs asks us to reject the idea of a single model of blackness and accept and value black America as an inclusive and dynamic world.”

Riggs died the film was completed. Black Is… Black Ain’t was completed by his co-producer Nicole Atkinson and editor/co-director Christiane Badgely from footage and notes Riggs left behind.

Rigg’s second major work, Tongues Untied (58 min, 1989), shot him into the public funding of the arts debate. “Though acclaimed by critics and awarded film festival prizes, its broadcast by the PBS series P.O.V. was immediately pounced upon by the Religious Right as a symbol of everything wrong with public funding for art and culture, particularly culture outside the mainstream,” according to Larry Adelman, co-director of California Newsreel, the country’s oldest non-profit documentary production and distribution center.

A special screening of Tongues Untied is being held at the GLBT History Museum in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood. There’s also a panel discussion (not sure if it’s before or after)

Description: This special screening of Marlon Riggs’ 1989 film revisits the relationships of gay Black men 22 years later. How have Black lives and love among African American men changed since the release of the Riggs’ film? What can we learn from history and current generations about love in the Black community not just among gay men, but among all Black men? What can we learn about relationships between Black men and other gay men of color?

Location: GLBT History Museum, at 4127 18th St. in the Castro District

Time: 7pm-9pm

Phone Number: 415.777.5455.

Price: $5.00. Admission to the museum is $5.00; there’s no extra charge for the film program.

The GLBT History Museum was recently in the news when Britney Spears visited making the museum her first stop on her lightning tour of the Castro on Sunday, March 27 (the footage aired on ABC’s Good Morning America and can be seen on ABC).

The archives, reading room and offices of the GLBT Historical Society, the parent organization for the museum, are at 657 Mission St. in San Francisco.


Filed under News, save the date

Push, Sapphire novel turned screenplay, a must see

The novel by Sapphire

The novel by Sapphire

I was living in Ann Arbor at the time. A friend, who happened to be a drag king recommended I read Push. I hadn’t heard of the book or the author, Sapphire. I loved the cover, brick red background, bold black letters, simple. The first page had me.

Copyright Sapphire

Claireece Precious Jones, the main character, grabbed me by the hand and told me not to let go. I didn’t. Claireece is repeatedly raped by father and abused by her mother. “Poor, angry, illiterate, fat, unloved and generally unnoticed,” she finds a way out of her situation and tries to better understand her life as it is. Sapphire writes with such a beauty that is painfully vivid. I held my breath reading some of the pages.


I’ve been running away from Claireece’s, Eisha’s, Tameka’s, and Tyrone’s since I graduated from high school. Claireece could have been my neighbor when I was 8 or 18. She lives in the ghetto. My family lived in the ghetto at two very different times of my life. I am still running. Running and trying to escape the hardship that my mother and grandmother and relatives faced through writing.

I had no idea Push was being turned into a movie or being directed by Lee Daniels. Lee Daniels is a outspoken gay Black writer, producer (Monster’s Ball), and director (Shadow Boxer) known for his crazy Maxwell-esque hair. I remember reading an article about him in Vibe magazine years ago about one of the projects he was working on at the time. Two years ago I went to see the premiere of his movie, Shadowboxer with Helen Mirren, Mo’Nique, and Cuba Gooding Jr. in LA. I was excited to hear that he directed and co-produced Push.

Oprah calls Push the next Color Purple. I’m wondering why isn’t their more money behind this project. I haven’t even heard any bloggers talking about it. The buzz at Sundance was that Mo’Nique might be considered for an Oscar for her performance in the movie. Mo’Nique has developed a gainful relationship with Daniels and so has Mariah Carey. Carey plays Krystal in the highly anticipated Tennessee, which Daniels produced. Tennessee is directed by Aaron Woodley. The movie was premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and showed at the Urbanworld Film Festival.

Tennesse is the film that Janet Jackson gained weight for “and then had to drop out b/c they moved production. Sounds like bull to me. But it’s funny that they replaced her with Mariah, who isn’t gaining any special weight for it seemingly. Guess she’s big enough,” said sledwidge on IMDb’s Message Board.

Clareece 'Precious' Jones played Gabourey Sidibe

Clareece 'Precious' Jones played Gabourey Sidibe

Push stars Gabourey Sidibe, Paula Patton, Mo’Nique, Mariah Carey, Sherri Shepherd, and Lenny Kravitz. How did I not hear about this project? Claireece Precious Jones is portrayed by Gabourey Sidibe, a new actress from Harlem. Push is slated to be released later this year. Coincidentally, there’s another film titled Push with Djimon Hounsou and Dakota Fanning that has released last week. Hounsou’s Push is a Sci-Fi thriller about young kids with special powers.

Push is the recipient of the Grand Jury Prize: U.S. Dramatic, the Audience Award presented by Honda: U.S. Dramatic, and A Special Jury Prize for Acting at the Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for Best Trailer by the Golden Trailer Awards. It’s one of only three films to win both the Audience Dramatic and Jury Awards at Sundance.

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Filed under The Written Word