On this blog, and elsewhere, discussions/debates have been had about the perceived dearth of black filmmakers creating work that’s, shall we say, atypical of the kind of material that we collectively, broadly brand “black cinema,” in terms of content, themes explored, style, etc.
I’m never really quite sure how to involve myself in those conversations, often perplexed, because I think it should be go without saying that, of course there are black filmmakers with interests that exist outside of what many of us may have come to understand as the “norm” for black cinema. As has been stated here before, we’re certainly not a monolith, and our individual life experiences vary greatly, across all spectra. So, naturally, our artistic output will vary just as widely.
There’s the question of what we’re “allowed” to do within the current “system,” but that’s another blog post. Although I’d say, in brief, that we certainly shouldn’t let an industry’s myopia be our sole gauge of what black filmmakers are capable of.
And with all that said… I’d like to introduce you to Osbert Parker, a black British filmmaker, and 3-time British Academy Award-nominated director (BAFTA - the UK’s equivalent of the Oscars) with a background in commercials, who, since 2005, has been experimenting with mixed-media, creating a trilogy of animated noir shorts, combining still images, miniature sets, and stop-motion animation, mixed with found live action footage, to create an interesting body of work.
The films have played at international film festivals like Cannes and Sundance, and were nominated for best short film awards by both the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in 2006, and also the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
The first film in his mixed-media “noir” trilogy is titled, simply, Film Noir. The second is called Yours Truly, and he’s reportedly been working on the third.
I also read at least 2 articles that said he was developing a mixed-media feature film, which will be his feature debut, although both reports were from a few years ago; however, it’s worth noting that a feature-length film made in this style would probably take a really long time to complete, especially if working with budget constraints. So, we’ll have to wait and see if anything surfaces some time down the road.
I embedded 3 short videos below for you to watch, as well as get to know Osbert Parker and his work. The first is a profile of Parker; the second is a clip from the first film in the trilogy, Film Noir; and the last is the entire 5-minute 2nd short film in the trilogy, Yours Truly. It’s a little tough for me to imagine an entire feature-length film made in this style, that actually remains engaging throughout its running time, but I’m open and curious enough.
A clip from Film Noir:
Watch a profile/Interview of Parker courtesy of AnimatedProjects.org.