For those who were first introduced to the film as a concept video more than a year ago, it might just feel like Christmas came early this year. Writer, Director Justin Simien’s Dear White People finally has a release date. The film’s official Twitter account announced that the highly anticipated film will hit theatres October 17.
It’s the moment we’ve been waiting for – some of us for a really long time, and being able to mark our calendars is like a light at the end of a very long tunnel. Luckily for us here at The ViP, the date was announced the same day we got to see Simien’s first feature film premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival in front of a sold out crowd no less.
Produced in part by a favorite of The Visibility Project, Lena Waithe, Dear White People is a brilliant satire about “being a Black face in a white place.” Top billed are Tessa Thompson, Teyonah Parris, Tyler James Williams and Brandon Bell. But the film doesn’t work as well as it does without the rest of its ensemble: exceptional performers such as Ashley Blaine Featherson, Courtney Sauls, Marque Richardson, and Nia Jervier, who, with or without lines, do an immaculate job of helping to flesh out the story.
Filmmaker Justin Simien has stated the film is not about racism. At its core, the film is a universal exploration of identity and how race plays a role in an individual’s understanding of the self.
While Dear White People is a self-described satire, the events that transpire are very real, very accurate and based on repeated, recent, actual events. Among the events depicted is the “African-American themed party” where white students adorn blackface, play rap music, present their best depiction of “Black Culture” (which, as Simien so eloquently noted, is different than black culture), and tell us how they really feel.
Dear White People has been a favorite throughout its tour on the film fest circuit, and already has a sizeable trophy case for awards and prizes picked up along the way. If you’ve seen the film you understand why. The truth is, we haven’t had an intelligent comedy, this well-made, with this much substance, starring this many Black people since probably the last classic Spike Lee Joint.
Though the film is compared to Lee’s School Daze, and there are some surface and style similarities, Dear White People does an excellent job of standing on its own. The writing is brilliant, the performances are amazing, the soundtrack is a music lover’s dream, and there’s a good chance you’ll leave the theatre with some serious hair-envy.
We won’t ask if you’re going to see it in theatres, we know you will. The only questions is how many friends will you bring on October 17 and how many will you tell about it in the meantime? If the anticipation is still too high because October is too far away, just do like we do, watch the trailer over and over or better yet, check out other work from the film’s stars, director, and producer like, Hello Cupid (Lena Waithe, Ashley Blaine Featherson) or Twenties (Lena Waithe, Courtney Sauls, Ashley Blaine Featherson, Nia Jervier, Justin Simien).