Thursday, October 22, 2009

Feature Film: Precious

Precious, a film based on the 1996 novel Push by Sapphire, tells the tale of an emotionally and physically abused pregnant teenager and her relationship with her mother and case workers who embark on the mission to save her. Director Lee Daniels sat down with New York Times to discuss the sensitive subject matter and his apprehension with showing the film at Cannes Film Festival to a mostly white audience.

“As African-Americans, we are in an interesting place,” Daniels said. “Obama’s the president, and we want to aspire to that. But part of aspiring is disassociating from the face of Precious. To be honest, I was embarrassed to show this movie at Cannes. I didn’t want to exploit black people. And I wasn’t sure I wanted white French people to see our world.” He paused. “But because of Obama, it’s now O.K. to be black. I can share that voice. I don’t have to lie. I’m proud of where I come from. And I wear it like a shield. ‘Precious’ is part of that.”

He brings up a good point. As we Black Americans strive for success we often want to forget our past and shroud it with shiny new success. In doing that, we lose the joy in showing ourselves as multi-dimensional and complex individuals.

The film has garnered rave reviews from critics and its success has attracted the support of Oprah Winfrey. Daniels also spoke about the reaction at Cannes.

At Cannes, the film received a 15-minute standing ovation. “They wouldn’t stop clapping,” Daniels told me as he gulped a vodka. “I’m a director — after six minutes, I’m saying, please sit down. But I’m also a producer, so I’m thinking, what’s the record? Can we break the record for the longest standing ovation at the festival?”

[Read the NY Times piece HERE]

The film premiered in January 2009 at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize for best drama, as well as a Special Jury Prize for supporting actress Mo’Nique.
The film also stars Paula Patton, Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey, and newcomer Gabby Sibide in the title role.

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