Monday, August 11, 2008

‘The Black List’

Last night I finally got to see “The Black List,” the new documentary by Elvis Mitchell and Timothy Greenfield-Sanders. (I blogged about this project in January.) It was screened in Beverly Hills.

Alas, I didn’t know the screening was part of the closing-night festivities for the American Black Film Festival. Dudes were rocking blazers, women had on heels... and I stepped up in there with jeans and tennis shoes. Straight bummin’.

I haven’t seen that many black folks in one spot in a while. Celebrity-wise, I spotted Eriq LaSalle across the crowded lobby. I also saw a (white) porn star, Nina Hartley. First I assumed they let her in on a Booty Waiver. (Yeah, fellas... she’s still got that bubble tush working.) But then I saw her chumming around with Greenfield-Sanders, who directed a porn-star documentary in 2004.

Speaking of getting dressed up, may I ask you ladies a question? What’s the deal with wearing a bra with a backless dress? I saw that twice, and it is messed-up-looking.

Anyway... “The Black List” rocked the place. Not only did Elvis and Tim get a standing ovation, not only were there numerous outbursts of applause throughout the movie... but there were murmurs, laughs and other sounds of affirmation indicating a fully engaged crowd.

Elvis declared that this was the best audience for “The Black List” ever.

And all the movie is is a series of interviews with notable Negroes... from Colin Powell to Chris Rock, from Toni Morrison to Serena Williams. “The Black List” has a cumulative power that belies its simple structure. It really does feel like you’re eavesdropping on the world’s coolest cocktail party.

Matter fact, “The Black List” works so well as a group experience, I wonder whether it’ll be as effective when it debuts on HBO two weeks from tonight.

Plus you’ll see a photo of Slash as a teenager with an Afro. And a picture of Louis Gossett, Jr. from his Greenwich Village “beatnik” days, strumming a guitar. (Who knew?)

A companion “Black List” coffee-table book, featuring Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ photo portraits of the interviewees, goes on sale next month.


Reviewer X said...

Glad you saw it. Sounds like it was slammin.

Serena wasn't in the screening I saw at Sundance. I can't wait to watch it on HBO.

Undercover Black Man said...

Thanks, Reviewer X.

Yeah, Elvis said at first he and Tim had to work to convince people like Colin Powell to be part of this. By the end, famous Negroes were approaching them, asking to be included.

Serena was a late addition -- filmed post-Sundance. Apparently she boxed out Russell Simmons, because he's no longer in it.

Elvis also said he'd tried to get Sidney Poitier. Poitier was willing, but had scheduling conflicts.

I hope there'll be a Vol. 2.

Matter fact, I propose that Vol. 2 be all mixed-race folks -- such as Tiger Woods, Halle Berry and President Obama -- discussing the peculiarities of multiracialism.

Call it "The Mulatto Memorandum."

Francisco said...

Ha! Maybe on Volume 2 there will be a spot for you UBM! You deserve it.

Wasn't the American Black Film festival usually held in Acapulco? Or am I thinking of a different one?

Nina Hartley is doing a lot more health work among the Porn community lately than actual films and yeah, she still looks naturally good and has thankfully resisted going with botox and surgeries galore.

Oddly enough, I did watch Tim's HBO documentary about the Porn industry in HBO last year and was actually dissapointed b/c it seemed to be straight white performers most of the time.

tnboe said...

To answer your fashion question, I'm of the age where the rule is: if you need to wear a bra and can't hide the straps, that dress isn't for you. Some ladies need to get the hint! Yeah, it's ticky tacky.

I'm looking forward to seeing the DVD since I know it won't get shown or aiared over here.

mynameismyname said...

I can't wait ...didn't even of the production's existence. Thanks for the heads up.

"Mixed race", eh? Well...doesn't that describe the genetic backgrounds (and subconsciously, the mentalities) of almost all of the particpants in "Vol. 1" of The Black List?

But yeah, I guess Tiger and 'em can talk about growing black and growing up coming from an interracial marriage that's the only thing that 'seperates' them from other African Americans, in the grand scheme of thangs.

blackink said...

I'm going to need to step up my game and finally get HBO after a one-year hiatus. Sounds like I can't afford to miss this one.

And I was wondering where Elvis had gone. He's all over the place, man. It figures he'd be a part of something cool like this.

Btw, I'd always wondered if Nina's bubble was authentic or surgically enhanced. Just saying.

Reviewer X said...

From what I remember and from what I see of that poster, it looks like

Keenen Ivory Wayans and Dick Parsons were also removed.

There was a mueseum curator but I don't remember her face, so I'm not sure if that's her next to Bill Jones or she got removed also.

Given that they are calling this Vol 1 and they have some left over interviews, I bet there will be a Vol 2, but I'm not sure if it will be a Mulatto Memorandum.

BTW - Are they already calling Susan Rice, the 'other Dr. Rice'?

Undercover Black Man said...

Keenen Ivory Wayans and Dick Parsons were also removed.

No, they're in the movie, X. That image I posted -- which is the book cover -- isn't intended to be a complete representation.

Mark said...

blankinc: If you're looking to catch up with Elvis and haven't already heard it, check out his excellent radio show, "The Treatment," on KCRW in Santa Monica.

A podcast is available here:

Also, UBM: I wondered what you thought of Elvis' bust at the Canadian border. I like the guy, but I thought his response was weak: "Apparently a black man with dreads can't carry that much cash, but I think there are a few worse things to be embarrassed about. I haven't cheated on my wife like some in the news," Mitchell said.