Re-Presenting Blackness Independent Black Cinema in the United States and South Africa: A Comparative Perspective
Cara Lynn Moyer
Thesis DT 3.5 2003 M69
xi, 162 leaves: ill.; 28 cm.
Historically, mainstream narrative film in the United States and South Africa has been produced in order to entertain audiences and produce profit. However, in both the United States and South Africa film has also been used as a form of propaganda in which the representation of Blackness was used to promote Black inferiority and White superiority. Consequently, these representations promote Eurocentric standards and justify social and institutional racism. Although both industries had similar intentions and were marked by some comparable aspects of images Blackness, as well as limited industry access to Blacks, there was also some significant differences.
The nature of film industries and government involvement in regulation of the film industries in the United States and Africa were quite different. Furthermore, differences in political systems, cultural practices, social and political history, and the film industry itself resulted in some different characterization of Blackness, as well as greater access for Blacks to film production in the United States. Despite incredible obstacles, independent Black films that succeed in re-presenting Blackness emerged in both the United States and South Africa.
Considering the United States' and South Africa's shared history of racial oppression, this thesis begins by comparing the mainstream cinematic images of Blackness produced in the United States and South Africa. This is done in order to establish a link between the images produced and the historical use of those images in order to contextualize the significance of independent Black filmmakers re-presenting Blackness. Next, this thesis explores how independent Black cinema has and can be used as a powerful tool for social, political, and psychological liberation. Independent Black cinema in the United States is established as a viable model for South Africa. Because Blacks in the United States made numerous advancements ahead of Blacks in South Africa and an independent Black cinema movement has been able to emerge, independent Black cinema in the United States can be used as a model for South Africa. Using the United States as model is important so as to avoid the pitfalls experienced by independent Black filmmakers in the United States, but also to learn from their tremendous accomplishments.