"Is That Black Enough For You?!?"'s Director on Tapping Movie Icons For His Ode to Black Cinema

Contrary to well-liked perception, Black cinema was wealthy and ample earlier than the growth of blaxploitation movies within the late ’60s and ’70s. “Is That Black Enough For You?!?,” a brand new Netflix documentary that premiered Nov. 11, not solely provides these movies their flowers, but it surely additionally magnifies the historic revolution behind Black cinema that is typically gone unheard. With archival footage and interviews with Black movie legends like Whoopi Goldberg, Laurence Fishburne, Samuel L. Jackson, and extra, “Is That Black Enough 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 deliver his kaleidoscopic documentary to life. Pieces of his undertaking started with Alain Locke lectures he delivered at Harvard University in 2002. Nearly twenty years later, he related 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 folks you named occurred to all be folks 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. But to depart out, to me, what was an enormous a part of the story is mainly a part of the African American wrestle . . . We modified numerous the principles for folks of shade, the way in which that narrative was formed and did not get the credit score. So I needed to attempt to shine a bit bit of sunshine on that and draw some consideration.”

For Mitchell, “Is That Black Enough For You?!?” is a deeply private movie essay that he poured numerous labor and love into – with assist from just a few of his well-known associates. In addition to 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 desperate to take part.

“The folks you named occurred to all be folks I do know,” Mitchell shares. “So it was like, ‘OK, Fish[burne]. I’m doing this factor.’ [He said,] ‘Tell me when.’ ‘OK, Sam. Well, I acquired this factor I’m doing.’ [He said,] ‘When is it taking place? OK, discuss to my folks 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 activity, in keeping with Mitchell. Hearing these figures’ tales and revisiting the historical past of Black cinema with them was an particularly rewarding a part of placing “Is That Black Enough For You?!?” collectively.

“Something that actually hyperlinks all people in that is all of them have a humorousness, though they know the way necessary that is,” Mitchell explains. “This is what they do and the way they take measure of themselves. . . . One of the belongings you see about Sam Jackson is he actually is aware of these items, backward and forwards. So does Whoopi. So does Fish[burne]. Zendaya is aware of motion pictures, and it was nice to get them mixed with this group of oldsters. . . . Most of the people who find themselves within the [documentary] are individuals who have been in these motion pictures throughout that point. So they may all converse from the purpose of expertise about what they have been doing, what was occurring, and the way they felt about doing this stuff.”

Mitchell additionally needed to select the brains of many different figures for “Is That Black Enough For You?!?,” a few of whom died earlier than he had the possibility to get them on digital camera. But his documentary pays homage to them, all whereas honoring a pivotal period of Black American movie, too.

“Is That Black Enough For You?!?” is now streaming on Netflix. Read forward to see what different celebrities are featured within the movie.

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