Fine Arts Theater in Beverly Hills is jumpin’….
Get yourself over to the 33rd Isreal Film Festival immediately and avail yourself to some of the greatest film ever to be made available for viewing. I did. Etruscan Smile was the film viewed. It was amazing.
What I didn’t find amazing an excerpt from the Lifetime Achievement Award that was something being shown on the screen as I walked in. It was almost like propaganda. It was some old documentary of other cultures and showed black people perhaps from some African tribe doing art and other activities. The narrator referred to them as ‘heathen’ and such; very typical of racist propaganda heard mentioned of that was popular during times of conquest eras like Columbus to new worlds and indigenous societies that find foreign cultures something to invade and replace and/or conquer. One such example that comes to mind is the story I heard about the great Wall of Zimbabwe; one of the wonders of the world I believe. I heard that tourists were once given brochures that spoke of Germanic people that constructed the wall rather than the native Africans which seems ludicrous and some sort of propaganda war against colored people. I watched in horror as the reel played. I couldn’t believe how backwards they were just like apes. I wondered how they got away with filming approvals and taking images of folk in good faith revealing their practices only to have the film treated as if alien, odd, and unusual. How did the actors feel about how they were portrayed especially the Africans. The film backers were certainly liable and arrogant. I can’t believe those Africans doing push-ups would say it’s ok to be called heathen.
How false. To openly misrepresent ones purpose to the folly if all mankind. When I say this I am missing as I believe they had to be misrepresenting on some level. Thank God that behavior was documented. Surely charges should be pressed and reparations made. I was totally offended. I found similar propaganda in Australia. Statues of First Peoples that looked as if referencing apes. It is horrifying that such thought perpetuated and prospered to the detriment of all mankind. Thanks God for civil rights and inalienable rights and their proponents/agencies.
To try and understand what I was seeing as I was immediately offended. I checked myself was it me? No. The inclusion of this film excerpt was part of the Lifetime Achievement Award reel for Mr. Arthur Cohn. I found the following after some research. See what you think.
Taken from https://www.amazon.com/Black-White-Color-Jean-Carmet/dp/B000096I8J
Winner of the 1976 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Black and White in Color is a voracious and timely satire on racism, colonialism, and war. Set in the Ivory Coast during the First World War, a group of bungling French colonials learns that their country is at war with Germany. Spurred on by a capricious moment of patriotism, the Frenchmen decide to attack their German neighbors. In French with English subtitles.
From the Back Cover
Winner of the 1976 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Black and White in Color is a voracious and timely satire on racism, colonialism, and war. Set in the Ivory Coast during the First World War, a group of bungling French colonials learns that their country is at war with Germany. Spurred on by a capricious moment of patriotism, the Frenchmen decide to attack their German neighbors.
Here’s a great review below from Ebert check the link. My commentary follows: I do think Ebert’s review is balanced as it does comment on the folly of colonization and the arrogance of colonizing empires. In my mind though it doesn’t really address black and white relations plain as a striped down theme of the film. Talking African and Colonizing Empires is sometimes too austere and also time-capsuled. If you break it down to what is shown and what is said, how it is said, and for what purposes the scenes shown become less satirical (and perhaps even the entire film). The film and scenes become more revelatory about it’s crafting and craftmanship. How is the future to regard such material? I didn’t find it satirical. I found it racist. I’ve seen Monty Python material which is an obvious satire and can come off racist as well. The difference is that Monty Python is satirical first then inclusive followed by comment on race, comment on caste, comment on your mom, comment on governments, commentary on sex. When you feel included you can go along feeling somewhat safe. The clip of Black/White came off third party commentary and racist first, the satire was elusive and I felt excluded to include perhaps referenced indirectly by my color alone as oppossed to feeling this film isn’t commenting on me as I’m not African. This allows me to come in a bit more objective to take in the work. Instead I found it a bit difficult to find a way to settle in to the event. Heres the link.
Here is the night the film won it’s award for Best Foreign Film in 1977. Take a look and judge for yourself it’s often a good marker to relevancy for future and also a check to show where the future stands in relationship to past material. I watched the reel and fought the urge to leave as it was that offensive the clip from that film to move to the position of taking in the entire reel to see what all else had been done. More racism? Or more commentary? I would judge the settlement of this award upon this man in my own way. As life can be life.
This is how I felt when I saw the clips of the Black/White film and I think it’s likely a truth. Trust your gut. Sometimes racism is simply that: racist and not nice.