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The Hub’s Entertainment Watch List: Is That Black Enough For You?!?
Writer and film critic, Elvis Mitchell, takes viewers on a history lesson of Black cinema with his documentary Is That Black Enough For You?!? The two-hour and 15-minute documentary premiered at the 60th New York Film Festival in October of 2022 before it was released on Netflix in November of 2022.
Mitchell has spent years examining films and developed a reputation as a respected voice through his work as an entertainment critic with NPR. The Wayne State University alum earned a degree in English and has critiqued films for media outlets including Rolling Stone, GQ and the New York Times.
With years of experience behind him, Mitchell wrote, narrated, and directed “Is That Black Enough For You?!?” The film’s title is a reference to a recurring line from Ossie Davis’s 1970 production, Cotton Comes to Harlem. Mitchell was able to weave his passion for film with the history of Black cinema and made sure to highlight standout films that built the foundation for the genre. He traces both the evolution and revolution of Black films with a focus on the 1970s. Films including Shaft, Super Fly, Coffy, The Spook Who Sat by the Door and Claudine were all featured throughout the documentary and analyzed for their impact on shifting the culture.
In addition to hearing Mitchell’s commentary and seeing clips from the films mentioned, viewers are also able to glean insight from actors including Harry Belafonte, Laurence Fishburne, Whoopi Goldberg, Samuel L. Jackson, Billy Dee Williams, Margaret Avery, Zendaya and more. The actors reflected on their personal experiences trying to make it in the film business while sharing memories of the factors that pushed them to pursue a career in entertainment.
Although the film takes a close look at Black cinema, it is important to note that the documentary does speak on the genre in reference to cinema as a whole. Mitchell shows how people of color were depicted in white films and the character development over time as well as taking it a step further to show how Black cinema has influenced how other films. Overall, viewers will be able to have a full look at how films centered on the Black community came to be and the lasting cultural impact.