The release of the highly successful film, “Fruitvale Station,” at last year’s Sundance Film Festival seemed to spark an increase in Black independent films and this year proves to be no different. Independent film maker, Justin Simien, touched on race relations when he debuted his dramedy, “Dear White People” at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival where it won the “Breakthrough Talent Award.”
“Dear White People” is the story of Sam White (Tessa Thompson), a biracial student at the fictional Ivy League college, Winchester University, who uses her radio show to expose racist Caucasians for their disruptive behavior toward African American students. Sam is later elected to a social club which turned out to be extremely dramatic for her as she experienced racism from radial students both black and white alike. Later in the film, the race relations between the white and black students came to a climax as a fraternity threw an “African American” themed costume party (inspired by real racist parties at actual universities) which was later the cause of violent riots throughout the campus.
Interestingly enough, Rolling Stone asked Justin Simien his thoughts on the recent MLK Day party thrown by a fraternity at Arizona State University which is actually quite similar to the party portrayed in the movie. “It was most often people that didn’t know what they were doing and didn’t think anything of it. Black culture really was just what they saw on TV and it didn’t dawn on them that there were actual people who were black and having a real human experience that might be offended by that.”
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