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Shaping the Future of African American Film [Paperback]

Monica White Ndounou

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Book Description

30 May 2014
In Hollywood, we hear, it's all about the money. It's a ready explanation for why so few black films get made--no crossover appeal, no promise of a big payoff. But what if the money itself is color-coded? What if the economics that governs film production is so skewed that no film by, about, or for people of color will ever look like a worthy investment unless it follows specific racial or gender patterns? This, Monica Ndounou shows us, is precisely the case. In a work as revealing about the culture of filmmaking as it is about the distorted economics of African American film, Ndounou clearly traces the insidious connections between history, content, and cash in black films. How does history come into it? Hollywood's reliance on past performance as a measure of potential success virtually guarantees that historically underrepresented, underfunded, and undersold African American films devalue the future prospects of black films. So the cycle continues as it has for nearly a century. Behind the scenes, the numbers are far from neutral. Analyzing the onscreen narratives and off-screen circumstances behind nearly two thousand films featuring African Americans in leading and supporting roles, including such recent productions as" Bamboozled, Beloved," and Tyler Perry's "Diary of a Mad Black Woman, " Ndounou exposes the cultural and racial constraints that limit not just the production but also the expression and creative freedom of black films. Her wide-ranging analysis reaches into questions of literature, language, speech and dialect, film images and narrative, acting, theater and film business practices, production history and financing, and organizational history. By uncovering the ideology behind profit-driven industry practices that reshape narratives by, about, and for people of color, this provocative work brings to light existing limitations--and possibilities for reworking stories and business practices in theater, literature, and film.

Product details

  • Paperback: 303 pages
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press (30 May 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813562554
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813562551
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15 x 2.3 cm

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Product Description


"Anyone hoping to accelerate the current momentum in black cinema, develop new models of production and distribution, or simply gain a better understanding of how race impacts business decisions in Hollywood, should consult Ndounou's well-researched book."--Henry Louis Gates, Jr."Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University" (12/10/2013)

About the Author

MONICA WHITE NDOUNOU is an assistant professor of drama, and affiliate faculty in American Studies and International Literary and Visual Studies at Tufts University.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
5.0 out of 5 stars Meeting the author 24 Jun 2014
By Jacqueline Dejean - Published on
I wanted to have hate book with me when I met the author and got her signature. I have heard this author speak on this topic and found it very intriguing and have been looking forward to the publishing of her book for two years!
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