Films are works of fiction.
They tell stories that shape our perception of people
and of society. This fiction becomes part of our reality.
A fictional reality, globally controlled by the giant
film industry that is Hollywood.
There, white people are in command.
White people decide what’s in the frame and what’s out.
Often at the expense of everyone else.
In 2015, the Ralph J. Center for African American Studies at UCLA has conducted a study to examine the racial diversity
the Hollywood entertainment industry.
The researchers looked into top-grossing theatrical films that hit the screens in 2013.
The data they found proves the racial
inequality behind the camera.
The CEOs of 18 Hollywood studios examined in the study are not only over-whelmingly white, but also 100% male. They have the power to greenlight film projects that they deem profitable. They also believe that only films with a mainly white cast sell well.
Screenwriters provide the screenplay for a film.
They create the plot and the characters – with focus on the film’s marketability. White screenwriters often take liberty of changing the race of a character.
Film directors translate the screenscript into a film. They hold a key position in choosing cast members,
are responsible for the production design and generally oversee the artistic and technical elements of film production. The success of a film is often attributed to the director.
Each year since 2007, USC Annenberg’s Media Diversity & Social Change Initiative examines the race on screen across the annual 100 top-grossing fictional films. Compare the data from 2007 and 2014 and see how much has changed in seven years.
happens, when the race or ethnicity of a character is changed. Very often, a white person is cast for the role of a non-white character. This is a long-standing Hollywood practice that has been used to make fun of people of color
or denying them the chance to actually protray a character of their own race.
Blackface is the practice of donning black make-up to portray a black person. This racist tradition has its origins in the minstrel shows during the 19th century. The white characterization of the dumb, happy or violent black reinforced the belief that black people were racially and socially inferior to whites.
Nowadays, mocking black culture is still common. Blackface still happens. Sometimes with, sometimes without the obvious black make-up.
Yellowface is the racist practice of putting on make-up to appear as a clichéd East Asian: slanted eyes, epicanthic folds and buckteeth are the most used applications. Sometimes to make fun of Asians, but very often to steal away the role from an actual
Asian person. Yellowface isn’t as stigmatised as blackface and still widely acceptable.
Brownface refers to the practice of making white actors look like a Mestizo Hispanic, Native American or Middle Eastern person. Instead of actually casting people from those groups, a great effort is made to change the ethnicity of white folks. Brown- or redface is especially common in Westerns. Brown people
are heavily caricatured as either thugs, savages or terrorists.
While white people can choose between playing white lead roles or stereotypes in black-, yellow- or brownface, people of color very often have only one option: to play an ethnic stereotype. Those stereotypes have been on screen since the beginning of Hollywood – and since then shaped our perception of the one-dimensional “otherness” of non-white people.
Representation of race matters.
Watch films by people of color.
2000, Director: Karyn Kusama / Trailer
That day when Diana was picking up her brother from boxing training, she realized this was her sport. The young hot-tempered woman, who starts fights at school and has to live with her surly father, finds relief in boxing. An uplifting story about a young woman that defies social and personal obstacles to follow her passion.
2000, Director: Taika Waititi / Trailer
Boy, an 11 yr-old kid living with his grandmother and younger brother on a farm, has two idols in his young life: Michael Jackson and his estranged, imprisoned father, Alamein . He fantasizes how his heroic father escapes prison and when his grandma leaves for a short trip – Alamein suddenly arrives at the farm. Boy is happy to spend time with his long-lost father but soon comes to realise Alamein hadn't come back for his son.
2011 / Director: Dee Rees / Trailer
A strong and well acclaimed film about the young black lesbian woman Alike, who has to deal with her sexuality, her gender identity, making the right friends and wearing clothes she doesn't want to wear, only to please her mother. But in the end, she will not run from her problems but instead chooses to stand above them.
Do the Right Thing
1989 / Director: Spike Lee /Trailer
On an unbearingly hot summer day in Brooklyn, pizza parlor owner Sal Fragione and one of his black customers pick a fight over the Wall of Fame wall in his restaurant that only has white Italian-Americans on it although the parlor is located in a mainly black neighbourhood. Aggressions rise with the temperature and finally explode when racial hate comes into play.
THE KITE RUNNER
The Kiter Runner
2007 / Director: Marc Forster / Trailer
TRIGGER WARNING: CHILD RAPE
Amir and Hassan grew up together in the peaceful Kabul of the 1970s and were best friends. But after the day, when Hassan had been abused and Amir had witnessed without helping his friend, their ways parted. After the Russian invasion, Amir moves to the US, only to return to Afghanistan as an adult to help Hassan's son to escape the Taliban.
2014, Director: Ava DuVernay / Trailer
It's 1965, a milestone year for the civil rights movement, when Dr. Martin Luther King and his allies led a passionate but dangerous campaign against white state agents to fight for the right to vote for black people. The film chronicles the activists' struggles for justice and culminates in the epic march from Selma to Montgomery.
2009 / Director: Chris Rock / Trailer
A lighthearted documentary about African-American hair culture. With focus on hair-related societal issues black women have to deal with and the giant hair industry led by East Asians behind it all.
2010 / Director: Denis Villeneuve / Trailer
Jeanne and Simon didn't expect to go on a long journey to the Middle-East when their mother's last will is handed to them. To fulfill her last wish, they have to find their father who was presumed dead and their brother, who they have never heard of. A captivating film about dreadful family secrets and finding one's roots in another country.
2015 / Director: Bitte Andersson / Trailer
A lesbian rock band sets off on a road trip to a battle of the bands in the big city. A mysterious billionaire with an army of ninjas, cyborgs and roller derby girls is doing everything to stop them. Their journey is a whacky adventure filled with motorcycle gangs, prison riots and flamboyant musical numbers.
1995 / Director: Mathieu Kassovitz / Trailer
The film tells the story of three young men, Vinz, Said and Hubert, in an impoverished Parisian suburb and their anger bottling up against racist police forces. Their frustration culminates after a night of riots in the streets, where a close friend of them was brutally assaulted by the police. Vinz is eager to seek revenge by killing the officer, Said tries to grin and bear it and Hubert is tired of the downward spiral of violence and wants to break free.
The Patience Stone
2012 / Director: Atiq Rahimi / Trailer
Somewhere in the Middle East, in a war ridden country, a wife patiently waits beside her husband, who fell into a coma when he was shot in the neck. One day, she decides to tell her silent husband the truth about her feelings towards him, about her dreams and desires. And realizes that she needs to free herself from him and start a new life.
2009 / Director: Cary Fukunaga / Trailer
TRIGGER WARNING: ATTEMPTED RAPE SCENE
An intense film about the Mexican gang member Casper and the undocumented Honduran Sayra. Casper is on the run after killing his gang leader, Sayra wants to enter the US to reunite with her family. Their ways cross and we follow them on their brutal and long journey to alleged freedom.
2015 / Director: Jennifer Phang / Trailer
Set in the near future, Advantageous tells the story about the love of a mother for her daughter. Gwen was once the face of a cosmetics firm. But after losing her job and her affluent position in life, her only choice to maintain solid future of Jules, her daughter, is to take part in a risky experiment, where her consciousness is transfered into a younger body, allowing her to resume her old work. An absorbing film about what it means to be human.
2015 / Director: Lesley Chilcott / Trailer
Codegirl follows teams of young girls who set foot in the world's fastest-growing industry: the App market. While 80% of app developers are still male, young, tech-savvy girls are soaring. The Technovation Challenge aims to help those girls by empowering them worldwide to develop apps for an international competition.
Ocean of Pearls
2008 / Director: Sarab Neelam / Trailer
The young religious Sikh surgeon Amrit Singh wears a turban and a full beard – reason enough to be the target of racial profiling. When he moves from Toronto to Detroit to take a position at a new transplant facility, he is confronted with his relgious beliefs and eventually bows down to pressure to assimilate. This semi-autobiographical film tells the struggles Sikhs have to face in post 9/11-USA.
2009 / Director: David Kaplan / Trailer
From cooking as a sous chef in an upscale French-style restaurant to managing the chaotic Indian family restaurant after his father has suffered a heart attack – Samir, who doesn't even know how to cook Indian dishes, has to adapt quickly. Luckily enough, he meets an Indian taxi driver with an unbeatable palate who introduces him to the way of Indian cuisine.
THE SOUTHERN WILD
Beasts of the Southern Wild
2012 / Director: Benh Zeitlin / Trailer
The brisk six-year-old girl Hushpuppy lives with her father, Wink, in the Bathtub, a community somewhere in Louisiana. Global warming, the melting of the ice caps and a mysterious illness Wink contracts threaten Hushpuppy's idyllic life. As her father's condition worsened, she goes in search for her lost mother. A visually stunning, fantastic film.
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
2014 / Director: Ana Lily Amirpour / Trailer
A lone vampire lurking in the shadows of the Iranian ghost town Bad City, listening to music in her apartment and sucking the blood of abusive men. A moody, melancholy new vampire classic shot in black and white.
2006 / Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu / Trailer
Two Marroccan brothers playing with a foreign rifle, a white couple from the US trying to solve their marital problems abroad, a mute Japanese teenager struggling at life and a Mexican maid left alone with two white kids – four episodes about human struggles and cultural clashes wonderfully told by Award-winning director Iñárritu.
2000 / Director: Spike Lee / Trailer
Uptight, Ivy-League educated Pierre is frustrated: the scripts he writes for a TV-show are constantly rejected by his white racist boss. Being fed up, he writes a show that should cost him his job: a good ol' minstrel show. But instead of white people, actual black people don blackface, being a caricature of themselves. To his surprise (and disgust) his boss greenlights the show, which becomes a big hit with the white audience.
2010 / Director: Burhan Qurbani / Trailer
During Ramadan, three young German born Muslims get into life crises, forcing them to think about their faith in a contemporary western world. Maryam, growing up with her liberal Imam-father becomes deeply religious after undergoing an abortion; Sammi falls in love with a colleague while still struggling with his homosexuality; and policeman Ismail feels unbearable guilt after his gun went off, causing an incident.
Beasts of No Nation
2015 / Director: Cary Fukunaga / Trailer
TRIGGER WARNING: IMPLIED RAPE SCENE Against the backdrop of a civil war in Ghana, we follow Agu, a young boy, who loses his family in an eyeblink and is then forced to join the rebels as a child soldier. The film is an emotional rollercoaster, carried by the excellent acting of child actor Abraham Atta.
ON THE ICE
On the Ice
2011 / Director: Andrew Okpeaha MacLean / Trailer
It isn't unusual for the two Iñupiaq teenagers, Qalli and Aivaaq to spend time on the ice in the frozen town of Barrow, Alaska. But one seal hunt trip with their friend James ends deadly for him after a quarrel turns violent. The two teenagers try to cover up James' death and slowly become paralyzed by their guilt.
Dear White People
2014 / Director: Justin Simien / Trailer
A social satire that follows the stories of four black students at an Ivy League college, where controversy breaks out over a popular but extremely offensive black-face party thrown by white students. The film explores racial identity in the US that deems itself post-racist, and shows how each of the four black students tackles the problem in their own way.
Bi, Don’t Be Afraid
2010 / Director: Di Phan Dang / Trailer
A film about a dysfunctional family in Hanoi, told from the perspective of a six-year-old child. The father has turned his back on his family and goes out drinking every night, the mother is in denial about her husband's affair with his masseuse and the aunt falls in love with a boy.
1991 / Director: Mira Nair / Trailer
When Mina, an Ugandan Indian living with her family in Mississippi, falls in love with the African American carpet cleaner Demetrius, both families have to come to terms with it. A heart-warming, funny movie about an interracial, multi-ethnic couple, trying to find love against all odds.
2007 / Director: Mira Nair / Trailer
Based on the novel by Jhuma Lahiri, the film depicts the struggles of first-generation Indian-Americans Ashoke and Ashima and their American born son Gogol. While Gogol lives the American way of life outside of home, he has to adapt to his parent's traditional values in their presence. He and his mother both must find a way to live between the cultures.
Paris Is Burning
1990 / Director: Jennie Livingston / Trailer
By telling the stories of influental drag scene members Pepper LaBeija, Dorian Corey and Willi Ninja, the documentary sheds light on the African-American, gay, Latino and transgender community involved in “ball culture”, an underground LGBT New York subculture in the 1980s, where participants entertain the audience for trophies.
2011 / Director: Stephane Gauger / Trailer
Mai, a ribbon dancer from the countryside, arrives in Saigon and befriends Kim, a street performer. A promise of a better life leads their dance crew to the big competition, but Mai's budding romance with a rich kid threatens to derail Kim's plans. A fresh and upbeat dance movie about the Vietnamese hip-hop-scene.
2013 / Director: Ryan Coogler / Trailer
Based on the murder of unarmed African-American Oscar Grant by a white police officer. Film director Coogler not only portrays Oscar Grant as a loving black father, an image that is rarely seen on mainstream media, but also shows the blatant injustice and abuse of power by white police forces.
2014 / Director: Abderrahmane Sissako / Trailer
After Jihadists took over the northern part of Mali, Timbuktu, the once cheerful oasis, turned into a place of drabness, fear and terror. Music, football and even laughter have been banned by the Jihadists in order to control the faith of the townspeople. Not far from Timbuktu lives Kidane, a cattle herder, with his wife Satima. They are unaffected by the chaos that controls the town, but their life changes abruptly after Kidane kills a fisherman. Timbuktu is a cinematographic masterpiece.
2014 / Director: Debbie Tucker Green / Trailer
A film about a family that falls apart after Jax gets pregnant without knowing how it could've happen. She hadn't slept with her long-time boyfriend and hadn't had any affairs with other men. An emotional glimpse into the daily life of a family whose love and trust is put to the test.
We Are Young. We Are Strong.
2014 / Director: Burhan Qurbani / Trailer
Rostock, 1992. Tensions rise between asylum seekers, immigrants and white Germans, who are willing to resort to violence. And while the immigrants fear for their safety, the police is hesistant to act. The film follows the story of three people: Lien, a Vietnamese woman who lives in the so-called Sonnenblumenhaus, a residential home for Vietnamese contract workers the local politician Martin and Stefan, his bored and violent son.
Based on the real events in Rostock in 1992, where a residential building housing Vietnamese immigrants was besieged and set on fire by a rampaging mob, while bystanders applauded the incident.
2004 / Director: Fatih Akin / Trailer
Ibo, a German of Turkish descend, is a big fan of Bruce Lee and wants to be the first director to make the first German Kung-Fu-movie. For now, all that he has done is a commercial for his uncle's kebab joint. His plan of becoming a big film director is disrupted by his girlfriend's sudden pregnancy, his father's disapproval of his German girlfriend and the feud between the kebab joint and the Greek taverna across the street.
2013 / Director: Ritesh Batra / Trailer
Due to a delivery mistake, the lunchbox Ila prepares everyday for her ungrateful husband reaches the wrong man – but the right heart. Both, Ila and Saajan, the lunchbox receiver, realize the mistake and start to exchange notes that they put in the lunchboxes. A slow-paced film about friendship and emotional bonding over food.
Middle of Nowhere
2012 / Director: Ava DuVernay / Trailer
Rudy drops out of medical school after her husband is sentenced to eight years in prison. While he is incarcerated, she does her best to concentrate on his needs, ignoring her own. Then Rudy meets Derek – and has to decide between a life of self-sacrifice and a whole new future.
Das Fest des Huhnes
1992 / Director: Walter Wippersberg / Trailer
A hilarious mockumentary about an African team of anthropologist that observe and discover the white native people from Upper Austria and their rituals, such as heavy beer drinking and courtship dances. The film mocks the condescending way Western anthropologists perform their ethnological studies, attributing rites unknown to Western societies as odd and archaic.
BIG FATHER,SMALL FATHER
AND OTHER STORIES
Big Father, Small Father and Other Stories
2015 / Director: Di Phan Dang / Trailer
Vu, a photography student, moves to Saigon and falls in love with his new roomate Thang right away. The small-time drugdealer takes him into the worlds of clubs, where Vu meets Van, an erotic dancer. Meanwhile back in his home village, Vu's father is setting up a meeting with a woman, whom Vu is supposed to marry.
2015 / Director: Rick Famuyiwa / Trailer
Malcolm is a geek. He gets good grades, avoids trouble and wants to make it into Harvard. Shortly before he is about to go to college, he and his friends join a local drugdealer's birthday party for the coolness-factor. A razzia, a bag full of drugs and teenage hormones shake up his life and lead Malcolm to an understanding of himself at the edge of law.
2011 / Director: Philippe Falardeau / Trailer
After an elementary school teacher has committed suicide, Bashir Lazhar, an Algerian immigrant with no teaching qualifications, takes over her class. The students, who are confused about the sudden death of their former teacher, and Bashir, who, as a refugee, experienced many losses on his way to Canada, eventually form a bond of mutual respect and love.
2014 / Director: Hong Khaou / Trailer
After the untimely death of her only son, the Chinese Cambodian mother meets a white stranger who is also in deep mourning for the deceased man. They try to overcome their grief by talking about the man they loved, but are struggling with the language barrier and the mother's denial about her son's homosexuality.
2014 / Director: Fatih Akin / Trailer
Mardin, 1915. The young blacksmith Nazaret lives peacefully with his wife and twin daughters until the night, when Turkish soldiers kidnap him and other Armenian men from their village to work as forced laborers. After the Armenian genocide, which he survives by chance, Nazaret loses his voice and faith in humanity. But then he learns that his daughters might be alive and so he goes on a journey to find them.
Stories of Our Lives
2014 / Director: Jim Chuchu / Trailer
The NEST, a Kenyan art collective, collected the stories of five young people from LGBTI community about their experiences in a strongly homophobic country.
MIN DÎT – THE CHILDREN OF
Min Dît – The Children of Diyarbakır
2009 / Director: Miraz Bezar / Trailer
In one moment they return from a wedding with their parents, in the other 10-year-old Gülistan, her brother Fırat and their baby-sister are alone, parentless, penniless, homeless. They have become street children, fighting everyday to survive. Based on a journalistic story about street children in the eatern Turkish city of Diyarbakir.
2004 / Director: Alice Wu / Trailer
After her mother got kicked out of the Chinese community for being pregnant out of wedlock and bringing shame to the community, her daughter Wilhelmina not only has to find a bachelor for her mother, but also has to deal with her homosexuality that she hides from the community. This is even harder to accomplish when Wilhelmina meets Vivian during a community gathering and the two fall in love.
Night Catches Us
2010 / Director: Tanya Hamilton / Trailer
Philadelphia, 1976. Marcus returns to his old neighborhood after being away for several years, part of which he spent in prison due to his activity in the Black Panther movement. Not everyone is pleased to see him back, neither his former friend nor his own brother. Only the widow, whose husband's death Marcus is responsbile for, welcomes his return.
2006 / Directors: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland / Trailer
Shortly before her Quinceañera, the Latin-American tradition of celebrating a girl's fifteenth's birthday, Mexican-American Magdalena finds out she's pregnant. Her father, furios, kicks her out of the family. She moves into her grand-uncle's place, who also houses Tomas, Magalena's cousin, who has issues with his family because of his homosexuality. There she finds a new family.
2005 / Director: Deepa Mehta / Trailer
Set in 1938, when India was still under British occupation. After the death of her husband, 8-yr-old Chuyia has to move to an ashram, a place where Hindu widows have to live for the rest of their lives, secluded, in order to not be a burden for society and not allowed to ever remarry. The cheerful young girl stirs up the lives of the women in the ashram. But when one widow falls in love with a follower of Ghandi and dreams of marriage, Chuyia comes to see the harsh reality of India's oppressive traditions.
2006 / Director: Hany Abu-Assad / Trailer
Two Palestinian childhood friends have been recruited for a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. Shaven and dressed in black suits, as if they were to attend a wedding, they hit the road. Something goes wrong at the Israeli border, they are separated and the action is postponed. This gives them enough time to question what they were about to do.
1992 / Director: Spike Lee / Trailer
A biograpical epic of Malcolm X, the controversial and influential Black Nationalist leader. The film chronicles his life from being a pimp, a prisoner, speaker of the Nation of Islam to his death.
A LEADING MAN
A Leading Man
2013 / Director: Steven J. Kung / Trailer
GQ Qi is frustrated: he got a coveted role for a television sitcom, but the character he plays is a yellowfaced racist caricature of people of Chinese descent like himself. As an Asian-American actor he is stuck between landig acting gigs and upholding his dignity as a human being.
2007 / Director: Arthur Dong / Trailer
A documentary focusing on stereotypical depiction of Chinese-American people in Hollywood, yellowface, the origins of „typical“ East-Asian movie genres and major successes by Chinese-American film directors.
2006 / Director: John Cameron Mitchell / Trailer
Despite being a professional sex therapist, Sofia has never achieved an orgasm herself. When counseling a gay couple on jealousy issues, they suggest her to visit „Shortbus“, a swing slash sexual self-discovery club. Shortbus is a highly erotic film, showing that sex could either be the old game of in-out, or much better: honest, consensual and intimate sex with climaxes for all persons involved.
2010 / Directors: Neil Diamond, Catherine Bainbridge, Jeremiah Hayes / Trailer
A documentary depicting the first portrayals of Native Americans in film, from the silent era to today. Featuring interviews from famous Native-American actors and filmmakers, while exposing and discussing popular racist stereotypes and the common practice to cast American Italians as Native Americans.
THE SONGS MY BROTHERS
Songs My Brothers Taught Me
2015 / Director: Chloé Zhao / Trailer
With an older brother in jail and living with their single mother on Pine Ridge Reservation, Johnny and his sister Jashuan's lives develop new challenges when their absentee cowboy father.
Crush the Skull
2015 / Director: Viet Nguyen / Trailer
Ollie and Blair, master thieves robbing upper class homes dressed as painters, and their friends Connor and Riley find themselves trapped within a house they intended to rob, only to discover they've inadvertently wandered into the lair of a deranged serial killer. A hilarious horror film that uses old horror tropes and turns them into comedy gold.
Out of My Hand
2015 / Director: Takeshi Fukunaga / Trailer/a>
A struggling Liberian rubber plantation worker risks everything to discover a new life as a Yellow Cab driver in New York City.
AYANDA AND THE MECHANIC
Ayanda and the Mechanic
2015 / Director: Sara Blecher / Trailer
In the Johannesburg community of Yeoville, 21-year-old Afro-hipster Ayanda (the captivating Fulu Moguvhani) makes a living repurposing scrap metal into funky furniture, working alongside the two remaining mechanics in her late father’s garage. The garage, however, is deep in debt and in danger of being sold—a possibility that Ayanda sees as an affront to her father’s memory. Drawing on her skills, she hatches a plan that might just save the garage—even as it may end up compromising Ayanda’s future…