Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Is ‘Black Nativity’ a “Blacks Only” Film? The Celebrities Respond

Jacob Latimore, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson, and Forest Whitaker
in "Black Nativity." Photo: Fox Searchlight

In 2009, my wife and I went to see the movie, Not Easily Broken based on the T.D. Jakes novel of the same name. The story was about a husband and wife facing difficulties in their marriage. The movie not only featured a predominately African American cast, but most of those in attendance of the screening were too. Though we enjoyed the movie, we felt a little out of place. When talking to others about the film, many of my “white” friends had never heard of it. Was this movie not intended for us? Was this considered a “black” movie?

“Well, that’s an interesting question,” said Pastor Jakes in a recent interview I had with the man last month. “I see them as movies, as art that anybody would enjoy and I don’t make them necessarily or get involved with them with black people in mind. I do them with people in mind. I think we have a tendency to reflect the world that we live in. I think that’s a part of it.”

In the new Christmas movie, Black Nativity, the cast is 99% African American including such greats as Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson, Tyrese Gibson, Mary J. Blige and Jacob Latimore. It’s a very good holiday movie, though I fear some of us might shy away from it based on the title alone which is a shame. Apparently, I’m not alone with this thought.

“I think it’s a problem,” says Forest Whitaker. “The Langston Hughes play in the movie is just like a church doing their nativity story – every church does it. I think if the name or theme on what the movie was really about, the reconciliation of a family and a community, and it had some title more about the family that prays or whatever it is, then I think that the audience that wasn’t black would [appreciate] it. So I think that it’s possible, but I hope not. I think that the movie is just about love, family and community, but I thought about it.”

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