Black Film Critics: 2016 Isn’t the Year for #OscarsSoWhite

The African American Film Critics Association says 2016 is the best year for blacks in cinema.

Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in Fences David Lee/Paramount Pictures

Last year you couldn’t read anything about the Oscars without seeing a mention of #OscarsSoWhite because of the lack of diversity in the films and actors who received nominations. But according to a statement from the African American Film Critics Association, 2016 has been the best year for black cinema.

“The amount of quality feature films, documentaries and TV shows released in 2016 about the black experience easily make it the best year ever. It has truly been an unapologetically black year in the industry as filmmakers brought to life some of the culture’s most fascinating stories and subjects with bold storytelling perspective,” says AAFCA co-founder Shawn Edwards. 

From high-grossing comedies like Ride Along 2, Barbershop 3, Central Intelligence and Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween to serious dramas like Moonlight and the upcoming Hidden Figures and Fences, 2016 has given moviegoers plenty of options. 

“The studios and major film distributors really gave it to us this year,” says Gil Robertson, AAFCA co-founder and president. “By any measurement, it’s been an exceptional year for blacks in film. From comedies to high-quality dramas and documentaries, 2016 will forever represent a bonanza year for black cinema and all cinema really.

“The coming award nominations are going to definitely put a pause on #OscarsSoWhite this year,” says Robertson. “But what we wonder is, for how long? It’s undeniable that the studios have responded admirably to the tremendous outcry from the African-American community through its delivery of the films that we’ve seen this year. But what about next year and the year after that?

“Unfortunately, the question that we must ask with every watershed year is, how long will it last?” he adds. “Were the past 12 months an anomaly, or does it signal the beginning of Hollywood being more committed to supporting a diverse lineup of black films? And what about films about the Asian, Hispanic, Native American and LGBT communities? Moonlight has been a bright spot in representing both the black and LGBT communities, but we need more. So we at AAFCA are extremely hopeful that these 2016 black films will have a domino effect in providing platform opportunities for films that represent other communities as well.”

As award season starts to gear up, it’ll definitely be interesting to see if those who take part in the nominations actually make an attempt to diversify the lineup.

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