“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 art-house 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, “Dear White People,” 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 nation’s whitest major metro areas, 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 at www.startribune.com/a2468.
SUSPENDED LICENSE: NBA player Lamar Odom, 33, arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence Friday, will see his driver’s license suspended for a year because he refused to submit to chemical testing. California Highway Patrol Officer Leland Tang said Odom was unable to complete a field sobriety test, and once at the station he refused tests. Odom has made headlines in recent weeks for alleged drug use, including reports last weekend that he was missing after a fight with wife Khloe Kardashian Odom. His agent told ESPN that he was “not missing,” and a source said that friends are trying to help him with a drug problem.