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Dear White People is a 2014 American film [3] comedy-drama film,[4][5] written, directed, and co-produced by Justin Simien. The film focuses on escalating racial tensions at a fictitious, prestigious Ivy League college from the perspective of several black students. It stars Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Teyonah Parris, Brandon P. Bell, Kyle Gallner, Brittany Curran, Marque Richardson, and Dennis Haysbert.

Dear White People
Dear White People.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Justin Simien
Produced by
Written by Justin Simien
Starring
Music by Kathryn Bostic
Cinematography Topher Osborn
Edited by Phillip J. Bartell
Production
company
  • Code Red Films
  • Duly Noted
  • Homegrown Pictures
Distributed by
Release date
Running time
108 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Box office $4.6 million[2]

The film premiered in competition in the US Dramatic Category at 2014 Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2014.[6][7] The film had a theatrical release in United States on October 17, 2014.[8]

In 2017, the film was adapted into a Netflix series of the same name.[9][10]

Contents

SynopsisEdit

Samantha White is a heritage media arts major at the fictional Winchester University, a prestigious and predominantly white school. With her sharp tongued and witty radio show Dear White People and her self-published book, Ebony and Ivy, Sam causes a stir among the administration and student body alike, criticizing white people and the racist transgressions at Winchester.

When Sam wins the election for head of house of Armstrong/Parker, the all-black house on campus, tensions rise. In winning the election, she beats her ex-boyfriend Troy Fairbanks, the son of the school's dean. Troy harbors dreams of being a comedic writer rather than a lawyer, but his father prefers that he not give white people a chance to profile him, and will accept nothing less than his best. Coco has an issue with Sam because the reality TV producer she is trying to win over would rather do a show on the witty light-skinned black girl than her. Lionel Higgins, a black gay student, gets a chance at finally finding his place at Winchester by being recruited by the school's most prestigious student paper to write a piece on Sam and the black experience at Winchester. When Kurt, a white student and son of the school's president, and his club come up with a blackface theme for their annual party in response to Sam's outspoken show, black students appear at the party, and a confrontation ensues, leading to a brawl.

CastEdit


DevelopmentEdit

Simien spent five years writing the script beginning in 2007. The next year, he made a trailer to promote and gain attention and funds for his project, which went viral.[11] He also launched a campaign at Indiegogo to raise $25,000 but he got an overwhelming response and managed to raise $40,000 instead.[12]

The project won Indiewire's Project of the Year title and Simien was later invited to 2013 Tribeca Film Festival to participate in Filmmaker/Industry meetings hosted by the festival.[13] Talking about Tribeca Film Festival, Simien said that "we had a lot of meetings with a lot of studios. We had a lot of conversations with studios and distributors and basically, we decided that the best offer on the table was from an independent financier, Julie Lebedev of Code Red Films. To make it independently, that was really the dream -- because then we could make the movie we wanted to make."[11]

FilmingEdit

Principal photography took place in late September 2013 in Minnesota, including at the University of Minnesota and other locations in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and in Los Angeles, including the UCLA campus.[14] The filming was completed in 19 days.[15] Simien shot the film with Red Epic digital camera and said that "I would love to shoot on film. I don't believe it's completely dead, but this format made a lot of sense for our production."[11][16]

ReleaseEdit

Box officeEdit

Dear White People grossed $347,959 in its first weekend in only 11 theaters. It went on to earn $4,404,154 in a limited theatrical run, finishing as the 3rd highest-grossing film to come out of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.[17][18]

Critical responseEdit

 
Justin Simien, director of Dear White People, won the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

Dear White People was met with critical acclaim. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 91% rating based on reviews from 120 critics, with an average score of 7.5/10. The site's consensus reads "Dear White People adds a welcome new voice to cinema's oft-neglected discussion of race, tackling its timely themes with intelligence, honesty, and gratifyingly sharp wit."[19] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 79 out of 100, based on 32 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[20]

Justin Chang, in his review for Variety, said that the film "provokes admiration for having bothered to ask some of the hard questions without pretending to know any of the answers" and praising the cast said that "Williams, Thompson, Parris and Bell all make strong, distinctive impressions, with Thompson perhaps the standout as the film’s sharpest and most enigmatic figure."[21] Justin Lowe of The Hollywood Reporter praised the performances of cast, saying, "Thompson’s conflicted student activist, which she pulls off with practiced composure. Williams manages to consistently dial up Lionel's nervousness and bewilderment throughout the film to a point of heightened tension that necessitates decisive resolution. As lovers, then rivals who must eventually seek mutual accommodation, Parris and Bell understand that for Coco and Troy, discovering humility is just the beginning of these characters' realigned journeys." He further added, "An edgy premise and memorable cast make for a potent first impression."[22] Zeba Blay of Indiewire gave a positive review and said, "With its vividly drawn world and characters, the movie doesn’t presume to encompass the entirety of what it means to be black, but it does give one of the most entertaining and honest depictions of black life in a so-called “white” world in years."[23] Terence Johnson of ScottFeinberg.com gave a positive review to the film and said that "Dear White People is a perfect film for today’s generation".[24]

AccoladesEdit

Accolades
Award / Film Festival Category Recipient(s) Result
2015 Spirit Awards[25] Best First Screenplay Justin Simien Won
2014 Palm Springs International Film Festival[26][27] Directors to Watch Justin Simien Won
2014 Sundance Film Festival[28] U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent Justin Simien Won
Gotham Independent Film Awards [29] Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award Justin Simien Nominated
Breakthrough Actor Tessa Thompson Won

TV seriesEdit

On May 5, 2016, Lionsgate announced a deal to produce a series based on the film, distributed through Netflix. This is the second Netflix original program for Lionsgate Television, following Orange Is the New Black.[30]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Dear White People". British Board of Film Classification. May 26, 2015. Retrieved July 5, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Dear White People (2014)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 26, 2015. 
  3. ^ "'Dear White People' Is A Satire Addressed To Everyone". NPR - Fresh Air. October 16, 2014. Retrieved June 23, 2017. 
  4. ^ Silverman, Justin Rocket (2014). "Racial attitudes are put under the microscope in satirical 'Dear White People". New York Daily News. 
  5. ^ Bircoll, Jamie (2014). "Marque Richardson discusses new project, 'Dear White People'". The Michigan Daily. University of Michigan. 
  6. ^ "'Dear White People,' 'Fishing Without Nets' Will World Premiere At Sundance 2014 (Lineup Announced)". Indiewire. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  7. ^ "‘Dear White People’ to premiere at Sundance". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Sundance Award winner Dear White People releases first full trailer". Digital Spy. Retrieved September 14, 2014. 
  9. ^ Silverman, Justin Rocket (2014). "Racial attitudes are put under the microscope in satirical 'Dear White People". New York Daily News. 
  10. ^ Bircoll, Jamie (2014). "Marque Richardson discusses new project, 'Dear White People'". The Michigan Daily. University of Michigan. 
  11. ^ a b c "'Dear White People:' From Indiewire Project of the Year to Sundance Film Festival". Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Dear White People: A satire about being a black face in a very white place". Indiegogo. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Congrats to 'Dear White People,' Indiewire & Tribeca Film Institute's Project of the Year!". Indiewire. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  14. ^ http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2014/01/watching-dear-white-people-with-white-people-at-sundance
  15. ^ Justin Simien, public panel, Angelika Film Center, Dallas, Texas, 22 October 2014.
  16. ^ "‘Dear White People’ hits close to home". Minnesota Daily. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  17. ^ http://www.boxofficemojo.com/genres/chart/?id=sundance2014.htm
  18. ^ http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=main&id=dearwhitepeople.htm
  19. ^ "Dear White People (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2016-02-11. 
  20. ^ "Dear White People Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved February 11, 2016. 
  21. ^ "Sundance Film Review: ‘Dear White People’". Variety. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Dear White People: Sundance Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  23. ^ "Sundance Review: 'Dear White People' (A Cinematic Answer To The Year Of The "Race-Themed" Film)". Indiewire. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  24. ^ Johnson, Terence (January 14, 2014). "Sundance Review: Dear White People". scottfeinberg.com. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  25. ^ "'Dear White People' Writer-Director Justin Simien Calls For More Diversity In Storytelling At Spirit Awards". The Huffington Post. February 21, 2015. Retrieved 2015-02-21. 
  26. ^ "Film Festival Fetes Jonah Hill, 'Saving Mr. Banks' Director". palmspringslife.com. January 22, 2014. 
  27. ^ "Palm Springs: Variety to honor Jonah Hill at film festival". pe.com. January 22, 2014. 
  28. ^ "2014 Sundance Film Festival Announces Feature Film Awards". sundance.org. January 26, 2014. Retrieved 2014-01-26. 
  29. ^ "Gotham Independent Film Awards 2014 Nominations". Rotten Tomatoes. October 23, 2014. Retrieved October 24, 2014. 
  30. ^ Lawler, Richard (May 5, 2016). "Netflix orders a series based on the movie 'Dear White People'". Engadget. 

External linksEdit