The Oscars are only a little over a week away now, and Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s Everything Everywhere All at Once carries on gathering momentum. On Sunday, Screen Actors Guild Awards went to Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Jamie Lee Curtis, and the entire ensemble. That’s four top prizes for a single film—a new SAG Awards record. Then on Monday, the Producers Guild of America gave its top feature award to Everything. “There is no stronger best-picture bellwether than the PGA Awards, which are voted on by a guild that shares significant member overlap with the academy,” notes New York Times Oscar watcher Kyle Buchanan.
- “Laying bare the typecasting of Black actors in the 1980s, Robert Townsend’s crackling directorial debut, Hollywood Shuffle (1987), is a satire that has lost none of its bite,” writes Aisha Harris at the top of the essay that accompanies our new release. Hollywood Shuffle is one of seventy-five films in what Slate and NPR are calling the New Black Film Canon, a chronological list with notes and comments from more than three dozen voters—critics, programmers, and filmmakers. Wesley Morris calls Hollywood Shuffle a “satire of racism in Hollywood that’s also a tragedy that still doubles as a documentary. You laugh, but it’s a heavy, complicated, sad kind of laughter.” Townsend himself, who talks with Jim Hemphill at IndieWire about the film’s making, comments on such new canon entries as Ivan Dixon’s The Spook Who Sat by the Door (1973), Michael Schultz’s Cooley High (1975), F. Gary Gray’s Friday (1995), and Gina Prince-Bythewood’s Love and Basketball (2000).
- This new canon is an update of Slate’s first version, which was put together in 2014 and ran to fifty titles. Perhaps in another seven years, the canon will expand to a hundred films and include Cauleen Smith’s Drylongso (1998). Recently restored by Janus Films, Smith’s only feature to date will open at FLC on March 17 along with two programs of Smith’s shorts. In Drylongso, art student Pica (Toby Smith) senses that the Black men around her in Oakland are disappearing and begins shooting Polaroid portraits as “evidence of their existence.” Kathleen Collins’s Losing Ground (1982) and Leslie Harris’s Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. (1992), both of them New Black Film Canon entries, are examples of “films that told me that this was possible,” Smith tells Marya E. Gates at RogerEbert.com. “When all the LA Rebellion films were finally released, I literally wept. Because I thought, what would I have known or what would I have been able to think about if [I hadn’t] seen these films when I needed to? It’s very much about having access to this catalog of aesthetic decisions that are so important to any artist.”
- In order to access a film, it has to exist in the first place. Celluloid “lives and dies, just as subject to deterioration as any one of us,” writes Charles Bramesco in the Guardian, and as Inés Toharia emphasizes, the same is true of digital media. Bramesco talks with Toharia about her “edifying visual essay,” Film, the Living Record of Our Memory, which is screening in Seattle before heading to Los Angeles,Chicago, and Philadelphia. “We’re producing more than ever, but we’re not taking care of it,” says Toharia. “Digital advances have made a much wider array of cinema available much more quickly, but it’s far from perfect. It doesn’t last either, it’s just different issues of preservation.”
- Ulises de la Orden’s The Trial, screening on Sunday as part of MoMA’s Doc Fortnight, is another sort of herculean preservation effort. More than 530 hours of footage shot during the 1985 trial of members of the military junta who committed atrocities during Argentina’s dictatorship were recorded on U-matic tapes. De la Orden began tracking them down in 2013 and eventually teamed up with an NGO. “The more I was having trouble accessing the material, the more I wanted to obtain it,” he tells Clara Miranda Scherffig at Screen Slate. He and his team spent nine months shaping the material into a three-hour narrative. “This trial was the first time in history in which democratically, just with ordinary justice and without external power, our country held its own genocide [culprits] accountable and condemned them,” he says. “It’s the base stone for a judicial power that is still going on, so it’s a story bigger than Argentina: it’s about how we can produce justice and what justice is useful for.”
- In a sidebar to his remarkable piece for the Ankler, David Vincent Kimel explains why he spent $15,000 on a draft of the screenplay for Gone with the Wind (1939). The story he’s uncovered and delves into in fascinating detail is of a “civil war” between two camps of writers, the “Romantics,” who saw in Margaret Mitchell’s novel a requiem for the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, and the “Realists,” who resisted attempts to whitewash the brutality of the antebellum South. The tale behind producer David O. Selznick’s “decision to entertain scenes showcasing the horrors of slavery before deciding to cut them has never been told (in addition to scenes of Rhett Butler’s suicidal ideation with a gun, and even a cross-dressing rioter). If not for Selznick’s choices to err on the side of white pacification, he could have altered the course of one of the most celebrated—and disgraced—movies ever made.”