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August 2000, Week 3


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Donald Larsson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Thu, 17 Aug 2000 14:31:30 -0500
TEXT/PLAIN (47 lines)
Lang Thompson notes:

> >four sections: one section on African American film, one on Hispanic American
> >film and one on Native American film and the last section on a little bit of
> >everything else.  The idea is too look at some ethnic groups in more depth
> I don't know if there's some reason for those choices but you might also
> keep in mind Yiddish films (J. Hoberman wrote a very nice history and
> there's plenty of other literature in addition to several on video) and
> Asian-American (not just Wayne Wang and the independents but the increasing
> visibility of immigrants like John Woo and Ang Lee among dozens in
> Hollywood).  By "American" do you mean United States?  Because issues of
> race and ethnicity have been a major concern of Brazillian films since the
> 60s at least and seem to be important in films from Mexico; there's also
> the interesting issue of French-language films in Canada.  Black films of
> course have an extensive literature and a fair amount available on video
> (though Charles Burnett's early ones aren't and are very difficult to see;
> I've heard that there are only two or three screenable prints of "Killer of
> Sheep").  Are you planning to use documentaries or only fictional films?

As the Yiddish films illustrate, it is a tricky thing to represent a
particular category of film by ethnicity, even when an ethnic heritage
is an important part of a group of films.  In other words, how do
Yiddish films by Ulmer, et al. work in a grouping with other films
dealing with "Jewishness" from GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT to FIDDLER ON THE
ROOF to Woody Allen, Mel Brooks and SEINFELD?

African American films present similar questions--There are the "race"
films of Oscar Micheaux and others, targeted specifically at black
audiences, the "blaxploitation" cycle of the 1970s, and more recent
films by black filmmakers, ranging from BOYZ 'N THE HOOD to SCARY MOVIE.

And then, of course, there's the portrayal of these groups by white
filmmakers--sympathically or not.

Don Larsson
Donald F. Larsson
English Department, AH 230
Minnesota State University
Mankato, MN  56001

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