Bill Gunn


“Of course, the vast majority of black filmmaking in the U.S. has necessarily been independent—there has yet to be an African American CEO of a Hollywood studio, and, save for a handful of outliers like Warner Brothers’ The Green Pastures (36), the majors didn’t produce films with entirely or predominantly black casts (or “race films”) until the Seventies. Most black filmmakers have historically been forced to serve as producer and distributor in addition to writing, directing, and editing duties. While this is increasingly true of contemporary filmmakers of varying distinction in the age of digital, combining these roles meant something very different back then: it effectively shut these films out of block-booked, studio-owned theaters as well as out of many film publications, whose editorial policies restricted their coverage only to films with distribution. (Films made for public television usually suffered a similar fate.)"—Violet Lucca

Familiarize yourself with the history of black independent film in New York
, and if you live in the area, be sure to check out Film Society of Lincoln Center’s "Tell It Like It Is” series.

To the Black Male Children
  • To the Black Male Children
  • Bill Gunn
  • Beautiful Voices Project

To the black male children. Philosophy is a prison. It disregards the uncustomary things about you. The result of individual is applicable only to itself. There is a dreadful need in man to teach. It destroys the pure instinct to learn. The navigator leans from the stars. The stars teach nothing. The sun opens the mind and sheds light on the flowers. The eyes shame the pages of any book. Gesture destroys concept. Involvement mortifies vanity. You, are the despised of the earth. That is as if you are water in the desert. To be adored on this planet is to be a symbol of success. And you must not succeed on any terms. Because life is endless. You are as nameless as a flower. You are the child of Venus. And her natural affection is lust. She will touch your belly with her tongue, but you must not suffer in it, because love is all there is. And you are cannon fodder in its defense.