Earlier this week, I linked to an announcement that AFFRM would expand its reach, starting up a new label for the express purpose of releasing black indy films on a multi-platform level, which presumes a wider media exposure, and that is exciting. In its brief existence, AFFRM has championed high-quality films by filmmakers of color and gotten them into mass-market theaters in big cities around the country, and is playing a big part in re-defining black cinema in America.
Looking at the films they've backed, however - DuVernay's Nowhere and I Will Follow, plus Kinyarwanda, Restless City, and now Better Mus' Come - one notices a trend that I find a bit problematic: they're all deadly-serious dramas. Good ones, but all dramas just the same. (I haven't seen Better, but its description sounds like it's in much the same vein. I won't know for sure until I see it.)
I suspect, and I admit I may be off on this, that part of the reason why may be a result of DuVernay's personal sensibilities on what she looks for in a film. I love the fact that she doesn't settle for the easy, safe, commercial choice; that she seeks out films that reflect the worldview and vision of their creators. That's important.
By the same token, though, I hope that somewhere down the line AFFRM backs films that reflect as much diversity of genre as one would find at, say, Sundance, or Toronto or Telluride or Cannes: romance, or suspense, or (smart) comedy, or even science-fiction. An animated film would be nice. I believe that this is a goal AFFRM shares and it's my hope that they're working towards it.