Boosting black films

First Weekend Club ensures movies by African Americans are well attended

to the club to help get the word out about their releases. Miramax, for example, held a private screening of Down in the Delta in hopes that FWC would help spread the word.

Future club plans include creating a system to “track demographics-such as income and race. We then can say this is who’s going and here’s what they’re seeing,” says Manly. BHERC also plans a letter-writing campaign to the studios voicing concerns about the images of blacks and other people of color in film and television.

While many in the industry applaud FWC’s efforts, some feel the outreach should be broader. “Perhaps flyers posted around town would encourage nonmembers to get out to the theaters,” offers Shelton. Wayne French, president of the Organization of Black Screenwriters, feels that the film selection process should be more discriminating. “While I applaud the BHERC’s efforts, there are certain black films that don’t deserve our money. There needs to be more of a focus on quality films and a bigger push for blacks on the production side and in executive offices.”

According to Manly, the club encourages “inclusion in all areas of filmmaking-writers, stunt people, in the executive office.” FWC is a way to “educate our community of the impact they can have by not only going to the theater but by writing to the studios and advertisers and demanding more diverse films.”

Besides the First Weekend Club, BHERC sponsors several film festivals, networking and information forums for black filmmakers. It also serves as a resource center for them.

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