Thursday, March 19, 2015

An Interview with Warrington Hudlin [Excerpt]

Warrington HudlinWarrington Hudlin has made an indelible name for himself in the film industry and media. In 1978, four years after graduating from Yale, he founded the Black Filmmaker Foundation. He is the producer of films, such as Boomerang (1992), House Party (1990), and Cosmic Slop (1994). His accolades include the Trailblazer Award from the Hip Hop Association, a 2005 Webby Award for best political website, and the Pioneer Award from African American Women in Cinema. He is currently a member of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences and other councils. He serves on advisory boards such as Asian Cinevision and the Coalition of Asian Pacific Entertainment (CAPE). He also curates a monthly series at the Museum of Moving Images called Fist and Sword.

As a major name in the film industry for the past three decades, how have you seen the roles of African Americans evolve in the film industry, specifically in martial art films?

Michelle Yeoh
Michelle Yeoh in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"
Well one thing that really struck me is that there has always been an intersection of interest between martial arts movies coming from Asia and audiences of African descent. In film marketing departments, the dollars that made these movies possible came from the pockets of Blacks and Latinos.

Actually, I had a wonderful conversation once with Michelle Yeoh. I told her that people knew her. This was her first time visiting New York, and she thought that there was no awareness of who she was. And I said, "No, no, no. In fact, we could get on subways right now and we could walk to Times Square, where people may not know you. But if you came to Harlem, people would definitely know you." She was really surprised that this community recognized that these movies came out of Hong Kong first. To this day, there's a tremendous affinity to these actors and films in the community.

Now, you've interacted with amazing people, like yourself, from Eddie Murphy to Michael White. Who has been the most inspirational person you've worked with?

There are different inspirations from different people.

Harry Belafonte isn't someone I've worked with in front of the camera, but he is an elder. He has really advised me in my goals as a filmmaker who is concerned with social justice. Anyone who's seen the movie Selma can understand the role he played during the civil rights struggle.

He's 87 years old, and he's done it. He's an African American who has successfully negotiated in the film industry and maintained his integrity.

Everyone gives you something. So, if you are attentive to subtleties, everything comes in ways that enrich you.

What have been some of your favorite accomplishments for BFF?

When Spike Lee was a student, we were helpful to him. We supported his efforts. So if you ask anyone in the business, they would tell you that the first institution to organize and create a facility for them to grow and prosper… they would say that we were that organization.

 To read the entire interview, check out this link.