Wednesday, June 18, 2008

U People

Sunday, June 22, 4:00 pm, Victoria Theatre
update: showing on Logo, 2009-02-07, -08, and -09!
DVD release to follow!

The film opens with the disclaimer: "View this film with no assumptions about anyone's sexuality." For that mat­ter, view this film with no assump­tions about anyone's gender identity. In 2006, a group of women of color — mostly black lesbians, but a few variations on the theme — got together in a Brooklyn brownstone to make a music video ("Make a Move") with a strong story behind it. For many years, lesbians had house parties at brownstones just like this one, giving them an opportunity to relax and be themselves. Filmmaker and musician Hanifah Walidah says of the genesis of the project,

I started writing a script ... that kind of showed the complexity of who we are as a community, because, I mean, you just don't see black women in general on TV in a real good, healthy, well-rounded light, and you damned sure don't see black gay women on TV.

In the course of filming the video, they had other cameras rolling for some "behind-the-scenes" footage, but they captured some remarkable con­ver­sa­tions about sexuality, gender identity, race, and the interplay among them. Walidah and her partner (and cinema­tog­rapher) Olive Demetrius pulled those conversations together into a powerful "accidental documentary" that gives voice to people in our community who are all too often expected to keep quiet, or ignored when they do speak up.

[The "Make a Move" video project] is creating this reality in this space right now, and that's beautiful. And the diversity of images, the diversity of people here, like we have masculine-expressive women, feminine-expressive women, and everything in between, and women of color that don't come out of a can. We're not the same, but we hold this identity as a part of ourselves, and I think it's beautiful that we can express it on our own terms. — Olive Demetrius

I go to these film festivals for two main purposes: to see and hear people whose experiences parallel my own, and to see and hear people with very different lives. Whether you are a black lesbian in Brooklyn or a white suburban straight boy, go see this film and feel the power of these images that are so painfully rare in our media culture. Then go send an e-mail to your favorite cable channels or your PBS affiliate and tell them you want to see this film on the air, and make as much noise as you can to get it out on DVD. Absolutely a MUST SEE!

watch the trailer
official website

U People, dir. Olive Demetrius and Hanifah Walidah, 2008 USA 77 min.

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  1. You did a demographic survey to find that you had at least one "white suburban straight boy" among your readers? That must have been expensive! ;-)

  2. Well, I grew up as 3 of those, pretending to be the 4th....

    Actually, I do have some demographics, going back to June 1st. I have readers on every continent, although 57% are from North America and another 25% from Europe, with less than 1% from Africa. Still, fewer than half my visitors are from the USA, and only 73% have their web browsers defaulted to the English language, with 6 other languages above the 1% threshhold. Furthermore, already 61 countries are represented, and 30 US states plus DC, just so far this month.

    You're mostly using Microsoft Windows (71% total, 56% Win XP, only 11% Vista), but a significant number of you, about 28%, are running Mac OS X. Less than 1% are on Linux, UNIX, etc.; across all operating systems, 40% are using Internaut Exploder, 28% Firefox, 18% Safari, 1.5% Opera. 99.3% have JavaScript enabled, most (87%) version 1.5. 96% of you have monitors displaying millions of colors, with only 0.1% still at 256 colors. Most popular screen size is 1024x768, but 24% have screens at or above 1200x1000.

    I have absolutely no basis in reality for the claim, but I'm going to arbitrarily declare that 11.3% of you have green eyes.... [seriously, I don't have any personal information, just location and browser settings]