The mission of The Department of Afro-American Research Arts and Culture to identify the global significance of the creative contributions pioneered by an international diaspora of Blackness
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Monday, November 6, 2023

The Feast of All Saints (2001, TV Movie)

"The Feast of All Saints" (2001) is a made-for-television historical drama directed by Peter Medak and written by John Wilder, who based the film on Anne Rice's 1979 novel under the same title. The movie follows the 'free people of color (gens de couleur libres)' in pre-Civil War New Orleans, who were bi-racial or mixed-race people, not enslaved. The men were allowed education, possessed land, ran businesses, and sometimes owned enslaved people. The women had similar privileges but were also mistresses to white men of social status. White men would meet and court these women at an event known as the Quadroon Ball. Quadroon is a term that refers to a black person who is one-quarter black. As a result, a particular social class existed known as placage (plaçage), the baseline narrative for "The Feast of All Saints." Placage is a system where women who were not legally wives were still beneficiaries of wealthy white landowners and "placed" with the men. The 'free people of color' recognized the marriages, but they had little to no legal bearing.

"The Feast of All Saints" was a two-part miniseries on showtime with an incredible cast that includes Robert Ri'chard, Peter Gallagher, Gloria Reuben, Jennifer Beals, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Eartha Kitt, Pam Grier, Forest Whitaker, Jasmine Guy, James Earl Jones, Ben Vereen, Bianca Lawson, and Nicole Lyn. The story is an elaborate one that focuses on Cecile (Reuben) and her two children, Marcel (Ri'chard) and Marie (Lyn). All the actors did a fantastic job in a complicated film where the storytelling evolved in every scene. I have yet to read the novel, so I am unsure how accurate the movie is to the book, but the educational value alone is worth the watch if you are unfamiliar with this type of history.

Director: Peter Medak
Writers: Anne Rice (book), John Wilder (teleplay)

Starring Robert Ri'chard, Peter Gallagher, Gloria Reuben, Jennifer Beals, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Pam Grier, Jasmine Guy, James Earl Jones, Eartha Kitt, Ben Vereen, Forest Whitaker, Jenny Coope, Bianca Lawson, Nicole Lyn, Rachel Luttrell, Jason Olive, Daniel Sunjata, Alec McClure, Victoria Rowell, Toby Proctor, Karen Glave, John Gilbert, Walter Borden

Set in New Orleans in 1840, this is the tale about the "free people of color," who formed their class at a time when the predominant role of blacks in society was as enslaved people. The story focuses on the ordeal of a young man named Marcel Ste. Marie, who searches for the truth about his heritage. 

Friday, November 3, 2023

High Freakquency (1998)

"High Freakquency" (1998) is a comedy film directed by Tony Singletary and written by Rob Gomes. The movie stars John Witherspoon, Marcus Chong, A.J. Johnson, Paul Mooney, Michael Colyar, and Deon Richmond. It was released in theaters in 1998 and was mostly on television in '99. The late '90s saw an influx of Black movies that went largely unnoticed. Many were low-budget but had relevant cast members who were familiar faces in Black entertainment. B.E.T. picked up many of these films for their movie slots, but over time, they faded out of circulation.

Director: Tony Singletary
Writer: Rob Gomes

Starring John Witherspoon, Marcus Chong, A.J. Johnson, Deon Richmond, Ajai Sanders, Cory Tyler, Michael Colyar, Paul Mooney, Iona Morris, Joe Clair, Roxanne Reese, Willard E. Pugh, Aonika Laurent, David Labiosa, Kimberly Brooks, Adina Howard, Freez Luv

FM 24/7 is the top R&B station in L.A. and the most outrageous! Program Director Wes Thomas (John Witherspoon) keeps the money rolling in. At the same time, he works at being white and presides over personalities like Nubian Princess (Iona Morris), Warm Daddy (Michael Colyar), and the Love Doctor (Paul Mooney). However, the real brain is Jordan (Marcus Chong), who knows what the public wants.