2013: A Good Year for African American cinema

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It’s a good year for African-American film.

The latest is feel-good musical drama “Black Nativity”, which premiered in New York earlier this week.

The movie is based on Langston Hughes’ popular musical fable about a street-wise teen from Baltimore who travels to New York to spend Christmas with estranged relatives.

The soundtrack includes a score of spiritual and holiday standards as well as some winning new songs by Raphael Saadiq and Laura Karpman.

The film’s outstanding cast includes Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett.

“Yeah, it’s a good year. I mean we had ‘Best Man Holiday’ open a couple of days ago. We have ‘Mandela’ opening on the same day as this film. We had the big success of ‘The Butler’ which followed the critical acclaim of ‘Fruitvale Station’. So, it has been a good year in terms of cinema for African Americans,” said the A-list actress at the movie’s premiere.

Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker has had a hand in three of this year’s blockbuster African-American films – as a producer in “Fruitvale Station” and an actor in “The Butler” and “Black Nativity”.

“I think it’s a unique time, because I haven’t had films with those particular points of view of these unique filmmakers. I think what we’ve seen is a very diverse grouping of films because the filmmakers are quite diverse, we’re starting to see their individual ideas and voices come out, to tell the fullness of the experience of the community, and as the fullness is told you recognize its connection to the whole, which is all of the community, which is everyone,” said the Oscar-winning actor.

“The Best Man Holiday” exceeded all box office estimates, cashing in more than 30 million dollars on its opening weekend.

The film reunites the largely African-American cast of the 1999 success “The Best Man”, taking advantage of the actors’ pre-existing chemistry.

“It’s time to start labeling films not as black movies or movies for black people, these are films for everyone. They’re universal themes and I think that it’s time to stop with this notion that every time there are black people on the screen we’re talking about race. Race does come up in ‘Best Man’, but it’s not what the movie is about,” said the film’s director Malcolm D Lee.

With so much Oscar buzz around these films, 2014 may be the year of the rarest of occurrences: multiple black Oscar nominees in multiple categories. Find out on March 2.

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