A scene from the trailer for "Dear White People," a satirical look at race and identity being shot right now around the Twin Cities.
"There's not just one way to be black." That's part of the idea behind a satirical movie being shot in Minneapolis this week by a group of young L.A.-based filmmakers who want to bring back the arthouse black indie movie, the kind Spike Lee used to make.
The story is about black college students who stage a protest when a group of white students throws an "African-American themed" party with stereotypical props/ The movie takes a semi-humorous, semi-serious look at what it feels like to have the only "black face in a white place." The cast includes Tyler James Williams, who played the lead on "Everybody Hates Chris," Tessa Thompson (currently on BBC America's "Copper") and Dennis Haysbert of Allstate commercial fame. Local stage actor Justin Dobies landed a key supporting role.
Writer/ director Justin Simien has drawn both praise and flak on social media for the subject matter, with some accusing him of reverse racism, but he says his intention is not to fan those flames, but to get people to look at the ways race affects both how others perceive you and how you think of yourself.
Minneapolis, which remains one of the whitest major metro areas in the country despite an influx of diversity over the last decade or so, seems an obvious location choice in terms of demographics. But it was actually picked because co-producer Effie Brown had such a great experience shooting a film called "The Inheritance" in Stillwater a couple of winters ago.
"Minnesotans are so nice and accommodating," Brown said. "And we were on such a low budget, people had to be doing it out of love for making films."
The film is expected to wrap production here around Sept. 14, she said.
Watch the trailer: http://www.startribune.com/a2468