Opposite to standard perception, Black cinema was wealthy and considerable earlier than the growth of blaxploitation movies within the late ’60s and ’70s. “Is That Black Sufficient For You?!?,” a brand new Netflix documentary that premiered Nov. 11, not solely provides these movies their flowers, nevertheless it additionally magnifies the historic revolution behind Black cinema that is usually gone unheard. With archival footage and interviews with Black movie legends like Whoopi Goldberg, Laurence Fishburne, Samuel L. Jackson, and extra, “Is That Black Sufficient For You?!?” director and historian Elvis Mitchell examines the grandeur of Black creators in movie — from their origins within the early 1900s to the landmark period of the ’70s.
Mitchell tells POPSUGAR it took him roughly 23 years to lastly carry his kaleidoscopic documentary to life. Items of his venture started with Alain Locke lectures he delivered at Harvard College in 2002. Almost twenty years later, he linked with producers Steven Soderbergh, David Fincher, and Netflix to inform a vital a part of Black cinematic historical past he felt wasn’t being advised.
“The individuals you named occurred to all be individuals I do know.”
“We all the time hear in regards to the Golden Age of movie within the Seventies,” Mitchell says. “All of those nice filmmakers and nice movies. And that is true, there have been lots. However to go away out, to me, what was an enormous a part of the story is mainly a part of the African American battle . . . We modified a whole lot of the foundations for individuals of coloration, the way in which that narrative was formed and did not get the credit score. So I wished to attempt to shine a little bit bit of sunshine on that and draw some consideration.”
For Mitchell, “Is That Black Sufficient For You?!?” is a deeply private movie essay that he poured a whole lot of labor and love into — with assist from just a few of his well-known associates. Along with Jackson, Goldberg, and Fishburne, the documentary additionally options testimonials from Zendaya, Billy Dee Williams, Mario Van Peebles, Margaret Avery, and Glynn Turman, who have been all desirous to take part.
“The individuals you named occurred to all be individuals I do know,” Mitchell shares. “So it was like, ‘OK, Fish[burne]. I am doing this factor.’ [He said,] ‘Inform me when.’ ‘OK, Sam. Properly, I received this factor I am doing.’ [He said,] ‘When is it taking place? OK, discuss to my individuals so we will do it.'” Even getting somebody as famend as 95-year-old appearing icon and singer Harry Belafonte on board was a simple job, based on Mitchell. Listening to these figures’ tales and revisiting the historical past of Black cinema with them was an particularly rewarding a part of placing “Is That Black Sufficient For You?!?” collectively.
“One thing that basically hyperlinks all people in that is all of them have a humorousness, though they know the way essential that is,” Mitchell explains. “That is what they do and the way they take measure of themselves. . . . One of many stuff you see about Sam Jackson is he actually is aware of these things, backward and forwards. So does Whoopi. So does Fish[burne]. Zendaya is aware of films, and it was nice to get them mixed with this group of oldsters. . . . Most people who’re within the [documentary] are individuals who have been in these films throughout that point. So they might all converse from the purpose of expertise about what they have been doing, what was happening, and the way they felt about doing these items.”
Mitchell additionally wished to select the brains of many different figures for “Is That Black Sufficient For You?!?,” a few of whom died earlier than he had the prospect to get them on digicam. However his documentary pays homage to them, all whereas honoring a pivotal period of Black American movie, too.
“Is That Black Sufficient For You?!?” is now streaming on Netflix. Learn forward to see what different celebrities are featured within the movie.