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Hughes Twins Are at Tip of Talent Iceberg

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I applaud Kenneth Turan’s assessment of the bubblingly nascent talent displayed by this country’s premier African American twins in their powerful sophomore feature effort, “Dead Presidents” (“A Bronx Tale Written in Vietnam,” Calendar, Oct. 4). In a word, I have seen the future of filmmaking and it is the Hughes brothers.

Every move in “Presidents” is original and unexpected. The scene where Larenz Tate runs through the garbage-strewn and canine-vicious back yards and alleyways of his Bronx neighborhood suddenly segues into Tate dodging bullets and shrapnel on the rice paddy battlefields of Vietnam. With one swift stroke of celluloid, the brothers juxtapose the two violent worlds. To me, this is pure, unadulterated, filmmaking brilliance!

Sadly, notwithstanding the directing success of Allen and Albert Hughes and a few other high-profiled African American directors, the horribly dismal hiring figures recently released by the Directors Guild of America show unequivocally that there is no action for the African American director, affirmative or otherwise. The recent report showed African American male directors had 2.68% of the work in 1994, down from 3.6% in 1983. African American females were not represented in either year.

Depressingly, since the DGA added “affirmative action” clause 15-201 to its basic agreement with the producers more than a decade ago, minority hiring has retrogressed.

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But, as Billie Holiday realized decades ago, “God bless the child who’s got his/her own.” The time may be ripe for the emergence of an African American-owned film company to parallel the ascendance of Motown in the music industry in the ‘60s.

I have long pointed out that the Everyman is gaining access to the means of production and the Hughes twins are the quintessential realization of the tremendous possibilities that flow from that inexorable fact. The Hughes brothers learned the fundamentals of movie-making with a video camera; many rap artists mastered producing records on equipment anyone can purchase at the local stereo shops.

The Hughes brothers are the first filmmaking “naturals” to spring from the fertile welter of high-tech. Many more, I’m sure, shall follow.


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