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August 28, 2007



I can understand Mike Tully's frustration at being lumped into the M-core movement, and his defensiveness in being "accused" of working only with white actors. On some level it doesn't seem quite fair to him since none of us know exactly what goes into his artistic process.

At the same time, Tully's sarcastic post does reveal something that should prove equally frustrating to minority viewers/filmmakers who long to see a truer picture of what the world really looks like (i.e. a world filled with light AND dark skinned people...)

Tully chooses to use COCAINE ANGEL as a shining example of how he is not one of the M-core members with a 100% white cast. But then he goes on to say that neither of the 2 leads were filled by any of his 3 black actors. Furthermore, the subject matter of his film (drug addiction) is one in which black actors have never "struggled" to get supporting roles. One hopes that Tully did not do what so many of his indie (and Hollywood) compatriots have done by automatically including black faces when cocaine is the issue. But either way, Tully's casting decisions do not stand out as particularly courageous or distinctive.

What I wish white filmmakers like Tully (and Swanberg et al) would do is not become defensive and list off all the ways in which they are more diverse than they seem. Instead, when the minority community says something like Sujewa wrote, they should understand that there is a deep (and valid) frustration with the status quo in which the industry recognizes films with white leads and white casts 99% of the time. It's not enough to say: "Hey, in my last film I cast a black actor who played a supporting role to my two white actors..."

It's always the responsibility of those in power to play a part in changing unequal systems. White filmmakers (M-core or not) need to step up and recognize that if they are not part of the solution, then they are indeed part of the problem. It's not enough to say: "I only have white friends and relatives, and I live in a mostly white area of town, so I'm just going to tell the stories of what I know..." To that, I would say "Wake up, look at the changing culture around you, dare to make some friends with people of color, expand your horizons and fight with your producers to cast minorities in your films." Is this easy? No. Is it your responsibility? Yes.

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