Combustible Celluloid Review - Afro Promo (1997), n/a, Jenni Olson, Karl Knapper, Billy Dee Williams, James Earl Jones, Pam Grier, Sidney Poitier, Richard Pryor
Combustible Celluloid
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With: Billy Dee Williams, James Earl Jones, Pam Grier, Sidney Poitier, Richard Pryor
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Jenni Olson, Karl Knapper
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 91
Date: 01/31/2006

Afro Promo (1997)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Black History

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

San Francisco's Other Cinema has released the amazing Afro Promo on DVD. Curated by Jenni Olson and Karl Knapper, this is very simply a collection of 30 Hollywood movie trailers, all having something to do with the African American experience.

It's undoubtedly a lot of fun, but eventually, with no commentary whatsoever, Hollywood's attitudes toward blacks and the evolution of black stereotypes become crystal clear. For example, A Patch of Blue, a touchy-feely awards contender from 1965, has Sidney Poitier as a sensitive black man who befriends a blind white woman, who can't "see" their differences in race.

Poitier represented the nobler part of the African American experience, but even in trailers for the Blaxploitation films of the 1970s, it's clear from the condescending tone who's in charge. Even worse is something like Zulu (1964), in which "slaves" are ogled for their "primitive" mating dances, then slaughtered in battle.

DVD Details: Sadly, the Afro Promo DVD does not include Disney's Song of the South (1946) trailer, which was included in the 1996 theatrical showing. But it does include two new short films, Christopher Harris' Reckless Eyeballing and Roger Beebe's Famous Irish Americans. Terri Francis, who teaches African American studies at Yale, provides written liner notes.

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