Dear White People is a sly, provocative satire of race relations in the age of Obama. Writer/director Justin Simien follows a group of African American students as they navigate campus life and racial politics at a predominantly white college in a sharp and funny feature film debut that earned him a spot on Variety’s annual 10 Directors to Watch.
Tessa Thompson plays Sam, a radical mixed-race woman who has a popular student-radio slot called Dear White People, mocking white liberals’ pretensions. When she is unexpectedly voted student house leader, defeating her ex-boyfriend Troy (Brandon P Bell), this ambitious young man decides to pump up his CV by joining an all-white humour magazine with the appalling title of Pastiche, who are trying to think up a gimmick for their annual party. An anonymous troublemaker fires out a hoax invite with a “Liberate Your Inner Negro” theme, which is instantly taken up by all the casual racists, and the event becomes a scandal. It’s reported on by the gay black would-be journalist Lionel Higgins (Tyler James Higgins), who complains his Afro has become a black hole for patronising white fingers.
The film has won many awards, including Best Film from the Black Film Critics Circle, the African-American Film Critics Association and the Palm Springs and San Francisco International Film Festivals and Best Breakthrough for the Director at the Sundance Film Festival, all in 2014. Its actors have also won awards.
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Venue: William Loveless Hall