Sometimes, when you want something done, you have to do it yourself. So that’s exactly what Kevin Costner did.
“A lot of movies I have made in my life have been a struggle for me to make—Dances With Wolves, Field of Dream, Bull Durham … and in this instance, Black and White,” the actor candidly told an audience of around 200 journalists after a screening of Black and White—which he produced and also stars in—Saturday at the National Association of Black Journalists Convention in Boston, The Wrap reports.
Costner explained that when he shopped around the racially charged indie drama, no studio in Hollywood would touch it. “I can’t speak for why [no one would finance it] … but I thought this movie is just as valid as those movies. So that’s why I made it,” Costner said.
And made it he did—the actor personally financed the film. He also solicited the dramatic contributions of Octavia Spencer, who joined Costner to speak to the journalists after the screening. “It was really important for me to work with Kevin, who is a filmmaker. You learn by doing and you learn—I like to watch the best doing. So I definitely wanted to be a part of it because of that,” she said, according to The Wrap.
Black and White—written, directed and co-produced by Costner’s The Upside of Anger partner Mike Binder—involves a lawyer, Elliot Anderson (Costner), who, along with his African-American wife, is raising their biracial granddaughter, Eloise. When his wife is killed in a car accident, the widower becomes embroiled in a custody battle over his granddaughter. Rowena (Spencer), the little girl’s African-American grandmother, argues that Eloise should be returned to her biological father, a drug addict, according to The Wrap.
The film is also bolstered by an outstanding supporting cast, which includes Anthony Mackie, Jillian Estell, Andre Holland, Bill Burr and Mpho Koaho.
Typical stereotypes—crack addiction, an absentee father and a “white savior” grandfather—aside, White and Black promises to hit on a number of discussion-worthy topics, including race in America, child custody and unconventional family structures.
There’s a tense scene when Costner’s character uses the term “street n–ger,” and The Wrap noted that the audience collectively gulped, but as Spencer points out, “This is one of the few movies that actually [deals with race], because people like to skirt around those things. But this is very direct,” The Wrap reports.
Costner, who was mum about the film’s production budget, revealed that he sat in on the screening, without announcing his presence, to hear the journalists’ responses, reports The Wrap. “I heard you laugh in the right places. I heard you moved in the right places, and that’s all movies are about—moments. And if you do them right, sometimes there are moments that you will never, ever forget,” he said, according to The Wrap.
Black and White’s next screening will be at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. It’s set to open later this year.