We are “film people”, and because of this, people often imagine that our only frame of reference for inspiration are movies and their makers. Not so.
Being a voracious consumer of media, I have many loves that include film, television, theatre, music, novels, paintings and poetry. My greatest influence was my father, a painter.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH
Given that it’s Black History Month, I certainly could take time to urge you to watch some important films.
How about Charles Burnett‘s ‘Killer of Sheep‘, about life in Watts in 70’s Los Angeles?
Or Billy Woodberry‘s ‘Bless Their Little Hearts‘, a feature shot in the same area in 1984?
Or perhaps 2003’s ‘Baadasssss!’, Mario Van Peebles‘ sweet affectionate love letter of a biopic-tribute to his father Melvin Van Peebles during the period that he made his 1971 film, ‘Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song‘? I love watching Mario play his own father in this film by the way, and even if you’re totally unfamiliar with ‘Sweet Sweetback…’ or with “blaxploitation” pictures like ‘Shaft‘, if you watch ‘Baadasssss’ as an independent filmmaker, you will be unable to tear yourself away from watching the man’s struggle with the absolute grind of just trying to get his film made — as a black man in 1970’s America, and as someone just engaged in the struggle of a life in the arts.
Film publications all over North America this month have listings for local screenings for several of these films, and some are available on DVD and download. But I did read about another Billy Woodberry screening this week, a short film called ‘The Pocketbook‘. It turns out that it’s based on the short story ‘Thank You M’am‘, by one of my favorites, poet Langston Hughes.
So today’s Indie Inspiration: Langston Hughes.
I play it cool
I dig all jive
That’s the reason
I stay alive
As I live and learn
Is dig and be dug in return
A Dream Deferred
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
What poetry. What a punch. Screenwriters, take note.
So I could tell you that I share poetry by Langston Hughes today because it’s Black History Month, but that’s simply not true.
I love him all the time.
‘The Pocketbook’ screens in Toronto at the TIFF Bell Lightbox this Thursday, February 7.