A “Lil Positivity”: Black Film ‘I Will Follow’ Does Well Without Studio And Marketing Dollars, Director Describes It As The Anti-Tyler Perry Film

- By Bossip Staff Categories: A "Lil Positivity", News

salli richardson omari hardwick i will follow

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I Will Follow, a nuanced drama about a woman coping with the death of her aunt, opened in Washington, D.C., this week after playing across the country to packed theaters. It’s had no studio backing, advertising or marketing, but it was fueled by word of mouth, social media and boosts from black film festivals, like the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles and BronzeLens in Atlanta.

“It’s the polar opposite of Mr. Perry, tonally,” says writer/director DuVernay. “There’s nothing wrong with what Mr. Perry is doing. Our point is there should be options for filmgoers and not a total monopoly of African-American films. Let the indie voices be heard. They’re not making it through the studio system. ” DuVernay, also the owner of a public-relations firm, decided to approach theaters directly. She worked out a deal with AMC to distribute the film and, boosted by positive reviews from critics like Roger Ebert, I Will Follow gathered momentum, making an impressive $11,500 per-screen average. “If you’re a black person living in, say, Detroit, you’ll see what’s put out by the studios,” she says. “And this year the only black-themed films were Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son and Tyler Perry’s film. There should be something for people who like drama and an indie aesthetic. The only way to get films of that caliber is to encourage new voices to write and direct them.”

DuVernay started AFFRM, the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement, and plans to release films drawn from festivals. Meanwhile, black film fests worked to promote I Will Follow, as did colleges and churches. The film, which stars Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Omari Hardwick and Blair Underwood, was made for a mere $50,000. DuVernay says she has tripled her investment.

Click HERE to check out BOSSIP’s exclusive interview with Salli Richardson and Omari Hardwick for ‘I Will Follow.’

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