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BILL VAUGHAN’S TASTY CLIPS: Has success of ‘Black Panther’ helped African filmmakers?

By Bill Vaughan

Entertainment Writer

“Marvel’s Black Panther” has made nearly $700 million in the U.S. since its opening in February to become the third highest grossing domestic film of all time.

You would think an industry known for riding trends and copycat tactics would be green-lighting all kinds of stories about the African diaspora.

Yet, none other than the ever busy Samuel L. Jackson declared to Vogue that he is “not positive that ‘Black Panther’ is going to change the dynamic of black stories being told in Hollywood and being accepted all over the world.”

“It’s an action-adventure story and a lot of people like those,” Jackson said, “and they’ll work all over the world forever because everybody loves a hero. But not everybody loves a drama about somebody’s life experience — that’s why awards have a separate category for foreign films; they are perceived as being different. Once we stop perceiving them as different and just see them as good films and they get recognized in the same category, we’ll be laying markers.”

One person making a difference is Mahen Bonetti, founder of the New York African Film Festival and executive director of African Film Festival Inc.

“There are people who don’t even know who [Senegalese director, producer and writer] Ousmane Sembene [considered the father of African film] was,” she said from the red carpet of the fest’s 25th anniversary gala at Lincoln Center. “We here at AFF can [provide] information so that others can find it and demand that someone brings it to their space. I’m also learning. For me that was my initial purpose in starting the organization. I wanted to know my story. I wanted to learn more about myself.”

Apolline Traoré’s poignant award-winning female empowering drama “Borders” opened the festival to a packed audience that included New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and first lady Chirlane McCray, Apollo Theater President/CEO Jonelle Procope, singer/activist Angelique Kidjo, actor Leon Robinson and comic/actress Gina Yashere of “The Daily Show.”

The director from Burkina Faso thinks “Black Panther” was important in offering the world the opportunity to see African culture through the lens of Wakanda.

“I remember when I went to school in the states,” Traoré shared with Tasty Clips. “I decided to go back home because whenever I tried to tell a story about my country, no one would be interested. Today people are starting to open up. I think investors are more willing to take the chance to actually put money into our films.”

“One thing that African people have learned is that success does not come overnight,” added Atandwa Kani, who plays young T’Chaka in “Black Panther” — a role essayed as an elder by his acting legend father John Kani. “We all know that it’s step by step. Let it filter and trickle down to people of independent filmmaking so that we can give them an opportunity to tell their stories from different parts of Africa and different parts of black America. Now that we’ve got your attention …”

TICKET WATCH: Sales open June 8 for the Demon Dayz Festival (Oct. 20) featuring Gorillaz, Erykah Badu, The Internet, DRAM and more. For details on the event to be held at the Pico Rivera Sports Arena & Grounds, visit: www.demondayzfestla.com .

DISC-OVERY: Tower of Power, the legendary R&B band with an unparalleled brass section, is living life like its golden while celebrating a 50th anniversary with their 25th album – “Soul Side of Town” on Artistry Music.

Veteran members Emilio Castillo, Stephen “Doc” Kupka, Francis Rocco Prestia and Dave Garibaldi are all in along with funky new lead singer Marcus Scott for 12 tracks of bliss produced by Joe Vannelli, the Grammy winner who steered brother Gino Vannelli’s sound.

Prior to touring, Tower of Power will be performing on day two of the Playboy Jazz Festival (June 9-10) at the Hollywood Bowl as part of a stellar line-up including Anthony Hamilton, the Ramsey Lewis Quintet, Snarky Puppy and Jazmine Sullivan.

CLIPPETTES: Tasty Clips has learned that Eddie Murphy has fast tracked a remake of the late Rudy Ray Moore’s 1975 movie “Dolemite,” which he has written and will star in. Tiffany Haddish and Katt Williams are on Murphy’s wish list for the big pimping comedy that may launch a franchise

The 2018 LA Pride Parade is set for June 10 along West Hollywood’s Santa Monica Boulevard with Eve, CeCe Peniston, Keke Wyatt, Keri Hilson, Tove-Lo, Kehlani and others

John Legend will headline the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation’s fourth annual Blue Diamond Gala on June 11 at Dodger Stadium. Arsenio Hall and George Lopez are co-hosts for the fund-raiser

Reports that Halle Berry is dating Keanu Reeves are premature. She’s co-starring with him in the now filming “John Wick: Chapter 3”

Michael Franti & Spearhead’s Stay Human Tour hits the Theatre at Ace Hotel on June 12 …

Blending rock, funk, rap, soul and electronic into an incendiary blend, Detroit artist Black Milk, with his backing band Nat Turner, touches down on June 14 at Echoplex.

TC ON TV: June 8 – “Just Another Immigrant” (Showtime): The 10-episode docuseries follows popular U.K. comic Romesh Ranganathan as he uproots his entire family and immigrates to L.A. “Real Time with Bill Maher” (HBO): Michael Eric Dyson, Fareed Zakaria, Shermichael Singleton. “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (ABC): Hannibal Buress, Aloe Blacc.

June 9 – “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” (OWN): The series ends with its 100th episode followed by “Cast Reunion: Spilling The Sweet Tea,” hosted by Kym Whitley. It probably can’t come soon enough as Miss Robbie Montgomery’s son Tim Norman has been raked through the coals recently via social media by his ex-girlfriends, including former “Basketball Wives” co-star Jennifer Williams.

June 10 – “The 72nd Annual Tony Awards (CBS): Denzel Washington (“The Iceman Cometh”), LaChanze (“Summer: The Donna Summer Musical”), Brian Tyree Henry (“Lobby Hero”) and Condola Rashad (magnificent as “Saint Joan”) are nominees. Special awards will be given to Chita Rivera, John Leguizamo, Bruce Springsteen and La MaMa E.T.C. “Celebrity Family Feud” (ABC): The Kardashians vs. Kanye West’s clan for the benefit of L.A.’s Children’s Hospital. “Gospel Superfest Salute To Black Music” (TV1): Erica Campbell, Ricky Dillard & New G, Brian Courtney Wilson and others perform in this special hosted by Wendy Raquel Robinson. “Claws” (TNT): The breakout hit comedic drama starring Niecy Nash, Karrueche Tran, Harold Perrineau, Jimmy Jean-Louis and Dean Norris is back. “Unsung” (TV1): Regina Belle “To Tell The Truth” (ABC): Octavia Spencer, Gabby Douglas.

June 11 – “Ellen” (Syndicated): Oprah Winfrey, Shaquille O’Neal.

TASTY QUIP: “Stay in school. Study, study, study. Don’t categorize yourself as one thing: be everything. But master one thing first. When you sell a script, start doing acting classes. Let one thing pick up and create roles for yourself. If you’re black or white or a little person — know that there aren’t enough roles for you. So create a bunch of roles for everyone. Don’t just be a guy sitting there waiting on Hollywood. Hollywood will give you an opportunity but once you’re there, you’ve got to make it.” – MARLON WAYANS, whose self-titled NBC sitcom returns on June 14 with back-to-back episodes, to Paste


As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment newspaper columns on the West Coast, serving nearly one million weekly readers. To reach Bill Vaughan, send email to tastyclips@yahoo.com or via Twitter @tastyclips.