An American Tale of Race, Love and Family

August 27, 2012

Entertainment, Feature

Short Film Examines Evolving Interracial Romances

By:  George Addison 

Article first published as An American Tale of Race, Love and Family on Technorati.

The art of film-making has always been an instrumental medium in presenting stories about big ideas, social norms and cultural shifts to audiences around the world.  Stories about interracial relationships have been around since the 1959 release of “Imitation of Life,” and Americans in particular, have been dealing with the issue since slavery.

Films like “Jungle Fever, Mississippi Masala, Zebrahead, The Joy Luck Club, Star Trek, Lucky Number Slevin, Our Family Wedding, 100 Riffles, Othello, West Side Story, Monster’s Ball, Something New, 28 Days Later, Bulworth, Strange Days, Save the Last Dance, Catfish in Blackbean Sauce, Pieces of April, Boogie Nights, Away We Go, along with the election of President Barack Obama have kept the issue of interracial relationships in the forefront of the American psyche.

It’s interesting to note that following the debut of the film “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner,” some forty plus years ago, a 1968 Gallup Poll showed that only 20% of America believed it was ok for a white person to marry a black person. In 2011, a similar Gallup Poll revealed that public perceptions have dramatically shifted with 96 percent of African-Americans and 84 percent of whites now accepting the idea.

The short film, Mulatto Saga, continues the legacy of embracing, educating and entertaining people while at the same time keeping pace with the growing perception that these types of relationships, in many ways, are now considered to be the “new normal.” In fact, interracial marriages alone have reached a new high of nearly 5 million as a result of the continued immigration of Asians and Hispanics.

Written and produced by Juliette Fairley, Mulatto Saga is coming off the heels of successful debuts in Los Angeles and New York, and is quickly becoming the new standard for further exploration of this somewhat still taboo subject. “I’ve been building on this for at least a few years now and have come up against every obstacle you can imagine but the project finally has legs and is running,” said Fairley.

The short film Mulatto Saga, directed by Michael Pinckney, is based on the stage play directed by Charles Burnett and examines the impact of Fairley’s interracial parents on her romantic life.  Celebrities like actress

Jasmine Guy, actor Richard Brooks, ABC news reporter Art McFarland and FOX-TV host Tom Murro have continually shown their support for the film. 6-year-old Cassidy Knight, Daralyn Jay and Kaylee Souther are among the actors who have appeared in Fairley’s series of short films.

“This film is extremely relevant today because there are so many bi-racial and tri-racial Americans and people around the world,” said Ilyasah Shabazz, who cast Fairley in a TV pilot 3 years ago. “My father, Malcolm X, was a humanitarian and his thing was social justice, so I don’t think he’d have a problem with interracial relationships.”

“This is the new world. It’s a multicultural world that we’re living in now and it’s a global international world that’s coming together as one people,” said Richard Brooks, who is best known for his series regular role on Law and Order and is currently starring in the feature film Mr. Sophistication.

Mulatto Saga is in syndication on network affiliates and cable stations through Los Angeles-based Badami Productions. CEO Frank Badami, who is Caucasian of Italian descent, says about the film; ” We thought this film would work for us. We helped her with editing, music, transitions, etc., to make it work better for television, which has a quicker pace than that of a theater or film festival. So, to begin with, we liked the piece. Juliette is very persistent in her sale approaches and it’s a subject we relate too. My daughter, Francesca, is from a mixed marriage and its something I’m not unfamiliar with. Mulatto Saga has a soap opera feel to it and tugs at people where they want to know what’s going to happen? ”

With two short films under her belt, the bi-coastal actress is casting her third called Juliette Fairley’s Diary of a Mulatto Bride, in which ABC News Reporter Art McFarland has been tapped to play her father along with Susan Jeffries to play Fairley’s French mother. A true tale of race, love and family, so as they say in Hollywood, “Stay Tuned!”

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