Opposite to well-liked perception, Black cinema was wealthy and considerable earlier than the growth of blaxploitation movies within the late ’60s and ’70s. “Is That Black Sufficient For You?!?,” a brand new Netflix documentary that premiered Nov. 11, not solely offers 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 Sufficient 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 convey his kaleidoscopic documentary to life. Items of his mission started with Alain Locke lectures he delivered at Harvard College in 2002. Almost 20 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 concerning the Golden Age of movie within the Nineteen Seventies,” Mitchell says. “All of those nice filmmakers and nice movies. And that is true, there have been rather a lot. However to depart out, to me, what was a giant a part of the story is mainly a part of the African American wrestle . . . We modified plenty of the foundations for folks of coloration, the way in which that narrative was formed and did not get the credit score. So I needed to attempt to shine slightly bit of sunshine on that and draw some consideration.”
For Mitchell, “Is That Black Sufficient For You?!?” is a deeply private movie essay that he poured plenty of labor and love into — with assist from a couple of of his well-known buddies. Along with 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 am doing this factor.’ [He said,] ‘Inform me when.’ ‘OK, Sam. Nicely, I obtained this factor I am 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 performing icon and singer Harry Belafonte on board was a simple activity, in keeping with Mitchell. Listening to these figures’ tales and revisiting the historical past of Black cinema with them was an particularly rewarding a part of placing “Is That Black Sufficient For You?!?” collectively.
“One thing that actually hyperlinks everyone in that is all of them have a humorousness, regardless that they understand how vital that is,” Mitchell explains. “That is what they do and the way they take measure of themselves. . . . One of many stuff you see about Sam Jackson is he actually is aware of these things, backward and forwards. So does Whoopi. So does Fish[burne]. Zendaya is aware of films, and it was nice to get them mixed with this group of parents. . . . Most people who’re within the [documentary] are individuals who have been in these films throughout that point. So they may all communicate from the purpose of expertise about what they have been doing, what was happening, and the way they felt about doing these items.”
Mitchell additionally needed to select the brains of many different figures for “Is That Black Sufficient For You?!?,” a few of whom died earlier than he had the possibility to get them on digicam. However his documentary pays homage to them, all whereas honoring a pivotal period of Black American movie, too.
“Is That Black Sufficient For You?!?” is now streaming on Netflix. Learn forward to see what different celebrities are featured within the movie.