‘Passing’ Trailer: Tessa Thompson & Ruth Negga Star In Netflix Movie It Landed At Sundance

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Videos on 2021-09-23 01:54Z by Steven

‘Passing’ Trailer: Tessa Thompson & Ruth Negga Star In Netflix Movie It Landed At Sundance

Deadline Hollywood
2021-09-21

Patrick Hipes, Executive Managing Editor

Netflix made a splash at this year’s Sundance Film Festival when it acquired Rebecca Hall’s Passing, the drama starring Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga. Hall, making her directorial debut, adapted the film from the 1929 novel by Nella Larson. Now the streamer is prepping for the film’s New York Film Festival slot October 3, after which it will get a theatrical release followed by a debut on the service November 10.

The pic, shot it black and white, tells the story of two Black women, Irene Redfield (Thompson) and Clare Kendry (Negga), who can “pass” as white but choose to live on opposite sides of the color line during the height of the Harlem Renaissance in late 1920s New York. After a chance encounter, Irene reluctantly allows Clare into her home, where she ingratiates herself to Irene’s husband (André Holland) and family, and soon her larger social circle as well. Irene soon finds her once-steady existence upended by Clare, and the the story becomes one about obsession, repression and the lies people tell themselves and others to protect their carefully constructed realities…

Read the entire article here.

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Erasure and Recollection: Memories of Racial Passing

Posted in Anthologies, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Louisiana, Passing, United States on 2021-08-31 15:27Z by Steven

Erasure and Recollection: Memories of Racial Passing

Peter Lang
2021
366 pages
13 fig. b/w.
Paperback ISBN:978-2-8076-1625-7
ePUB ISBN:978-2-8076-1627-1 (DOI: 10.3726/b18256)

Edited by:

Hélène Charlery, Professor of English Literature
University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès

Aurélie Guillain, Professor of American Literature
University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès

Many recent studies of racial passing have emphasized the continuing, almost haunting power of racial segregation even in the post-segregation period in the US, or in the post-apartheid period in South Africa. This “present-ness” of racial passing, the fact that it has not really become “passé,” is noticeable in the great number of testimonies which have been published in the 2000s and 2010s by descendants of individuals who passed for white in the English-speaking world. The sheer number of publications suggest a continuing interest in the kind of relation to the personal and national past which is at stake in the long-delayed revelation of cases of racial passing.

This interest in family memoirs or in fictional works re-tracing the erasure of some relative’s racial identity is by no means limited to the United States: for instance, Zoë Wicomb in South Africa or Zadie Smith in the UK both use the passing novel to unravel the complex situation of mixed-race subjects in relation to their family past and to a national past marked by a history of racial inequality.

Yet, the vast majority of critical approaches to racial passing have so far remained largely focused on the United States and its specific history of race relations. The objective of this volume is twofold: it aims at shedding light on the way texts or films show the work of individual memory and collective recollection as they grapple with a racially divided past, struggling with its legacy or playing with its stereotypes. Our second objective has been to explore the great variety in the forms taken by racial passing depending on the context, which in turn leads to differences in the ways it is remembered. Focusing on how a previously erased racial identity may resurface in the present has enabled us to extend the scope of our study to other countries than the United States, so that this volume hopes to propose some new, transnational directions in the study of racial passing.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction – Hélène Charlery and Aurélie Guillain
  • Part I: Memories of Racial Passing – Reconstructing Local and Personal Histories – From Homer Plessy to Paul Broyard
    • To Pass or Not to Pass in New Orleans – Nathalie Dessens
    • Racial Passing at New Orleans Mardi Gras; From Reconstruction to the Mid- Twentieth Century: Flight of Fancy or Masked Resistance? – Aurélie Godet
    • Passing through New Orleans, Atlanta, and New York City: The Dynamics of Racial Assignation in Walter White’s Flight (1926) – Aurélie Guillain
    • African American Women Activists and Racial Passing: Personal Journeys and Subversive Strategies (1880s– 1920s) – Élise Vallier-Mathieu
  • Part II: Memory, Consciousness and the Fantasy of Amnesia in Passing Novels
    • “What Irene Redfield Remembered”: Making It New in Nella Larsen’s Passing – M. Giulia Fabi
    • Between Fiction and Reality: Passing for Non- Jewish in Multicultural American Fiction – Ohad Reznick
    • Experiments in Passing: Racial Passing in George Schuyler’s Black No More and Arthur Miller’s Focus – Ochem G.l.a. Riesthuis
    • Passing to Disappearance: The Voice/ Body Dichotomy and the Problem of Identity in Richard Powers’s The Time of Our Singing (2004) – Anne-Catherine Bascoul
  • Part III: Memories of Racial Passing within and beyond the United States: Towards a Transnational Approach
    • “The Topsy-Turviness of Being in the Wrong Hemisphere” Transnationalizing the Racial Passing Narrative – Sinéad Moynihan
    • Passing, National Reconciliation and Adolescence in Beneath Clouds (Ivan Sen, 2002) and The Wooden Camera (Ntshaveni Wa Luruli, 2003) – Delphine David and Annael Le Poullennec
    • Transnational Gendered Subjectivity in Passing across the Black Atlantic: Nella Larsen’s Passing, Michelle Cliff ’s Free Enterprise and Zadie Smith’s Swing Time – Kerry-Jane Wallart
  • About the Authors/ Editors
  • Index
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T Book Club: A Discussion on “Passing”

Posted in Literary/Artistic Criticism, Live Events, Passing, United States, Videos, Women on 2021-03-08 03:02Z by Steven

T Book Club: A Discussion on “Passing”

T Magazine
The New York Times
2021-03-10, 00:00Z (2021-03-09, 19:00 EST; 2021-03-09, 16:00 PST)
This event begins at 2021-03-09, 19:00 Eastern Standard Time for viewers in North America.

Join T’s book club, which focuses on classic works of American literature, for a conversation on Nella Larsen’sPassing” led by the novelist Brit Bennett.

The third title selected for T Magazine’s book club, Nella Larsen’sPassing” (1929) tells the story of two old friends, both Black women, who reunite in 1920s Harlem, despite the fact that one of them is living as a white person. Critically acclaimed at the time of its publication, the novel captures the social anxieties that plagued America during the Great Migration and remains a resonant portrait of a fractured nation.

On March 9, watch a virtual discussion of the book, featuring the novelist Brit Bennett in conversation with T features director Thessaly La Force, that will address questions from readers. And, in the weeks leading up to the event, look for articles on “Passing” at tmagazine.com. We hope you’ll read along — and R.S.V.P. above.

For more information, click here.

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The Performance of Racial Passing

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-03-08 01:47Z by Steven

The Performance of Racial Passing

The New York Times Style Magazine
2021-03-02

Brit Bennett


The author Nella Larsen, photographed in 1934 by Carl Van Vechten. Carl Van Vechten, ©Van Vechten Trust, Courtesy of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University

Though Nella Larsen’s classic 1929 novel is understood to be a tragedy, it also exposes race to be something of a farce.

This article is part of T’s Book Club, a series of articles and events dedicated to classic works of American literature. Click here to R.S.V.P. to a virtual conversation, led by Brit Bennett, about “Passing,” to be held on March 9.

There’s a scene in the 1959 melodramatic film “Imitation of Life” that I have seen dozens of times, but it’s not the one you’re probably imagining: the climatic funeral scene where Sarah Jane Johnson, a young Black woman passing for white, flings herself onto the casket of the dark-skinned mother she has spent the entire film disowning. Instead, the scene that sticks with me is halfway into the movie, when Sarah Jane meets up with her white boyfriend, who has secretly discovered that she is Black. “Is your mother a nigger?” he sneers, before beating her in an alley.

I’m not proud to admit that in elementary school, my best friend and I used to watch this scene over and over again, not because we thought it was tragic, but because we found it funny. The frenetic music in the background, the melodramatic slaps, Sarah Jane’s slow crumple to the asphalt. We knew we were wrong to laugh, but we were too young to take much seriously, let alone a character like Sarah Jane, whom we found more pitiful than pitiable. We’d watched her mope through the whole movie about not wanting to be Black. Well, fine. Go see how she likes it over there.

In a strange way, the beating scene itself is almost structured like a joke. Part of the pleasure of a passing narrative is watching the passer fool her audience; in this scene, however, the audience is aware while the passer is not. Sarah Jane asks her boyfriend to run away together, the boyfriend pretends to consider it. He only has one question: Is it true? Sarah Jane laughs, unsuspecting. Is what true? But of course, we already know the punchline…

Read the entire article here.

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Understanding the Legacy of Nella Larsen’s Passing

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-02-10 16:24Z by Steven

Understanding the Legacy of Nella Larsen’s Passing

The Mary Sue
2021-02-04

Princess Weekes, Assistant Editor

Right now on the Sundance circuit is the Rebecca Hall-directed film Passing, starring Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga. It is an adaptation of the Harlem Renaissance classic Passing by Nella Larsen. Embedded into the text is a rich powerful narrative about the Black American experience and the lengths people go to survive in America.

Nella Larsen was both in 1890s Chicago as the daughter of a mixed-race Afro-Caribbean man and a white Danish immigrant woman. Larsen didn’t grow up with her father and in 1891 the Great Migration hasn’t happened yet, so the Black population was less than 2%. After her mother remarried, they moved to a mostly white neighborhood filled with German and Scandinavian immigrants. As a result, Larsen did not grow up in the usual world of Black Americanness. Or Blackness period…

…While it would be easy to dismiss Passing as a typical “tragical mulatto” story, I have always felt that it was more Larsen reflecting on the ultimate tragedy of those who have passed.

In A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life by Allyson Hobbs, the author explains that this is a narrative of loss. “I started to realize that writing this history of passing is really writing a history of loss,” Hobbs told NPR….

Read the article here.

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‘Passing’ Stars Talk Rebecca Hall’s Directorial Debut and the Complexity of Racial identity

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-02-02 04:05Z by Steven

‘Passing’ Stars Talk Rebecca Hall’s Directorial Debut and the Complexity of Racial identity

Variety
2021-02-01

Angelique Jackson

Rebecca Hall’s feature directorial debut “Passing” dives into the nuance of racial identity and the complex realities of racial passing, with Variety’s Sundance review touting Hall’s work: “This radically intimate exploration of the desperately fraught concept of ‘passing’ — being Black but pretending to be white — ought to be too ambitious for a first-time filmmaker, but Hall’s touch is unerring, deceptively delicate, quiet and immaculate.”

Intimate is a particularly choice word to describe the project, as the film’s story holds personal significance for all its cast — including stars Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga, both of whom are mixed race — but the project is particularly connected to Hall’s personal story. Hall is the daughter of famed theater director Peter Hall and legendary opera singer Maria Ewing. And though the British actor presents as white, Hall in fact comes from a mixed-race background, with a generational history of passing on her maternal grandfather’s side.

“I don’t think that I really had language for passing. It was such a difficult area of conversation in my family,” Hall recalls, explaining her personal connection to the material in conversation at the Variety Sundance Studio presented by AT&T TV, just hours ahead of the film’s Sundance premiere…

Read the article and watch the video here.

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‘Passing’ Review: Rebecca Hall’s Subtle, Provocative Directorial Debut

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-02-02 03:38Z by Steven

‘Passing’ Review: Rebecca Hall’s Subtle, Provocative Directorial Debut

Variety
2021-01-31

Jessica Kiang


Eduard Grau

A superbly performed study of racialized longing and feminine dissatisfaction in 1920s New York, lit by searing intelligence and compassion.

t starts in sweltering heat; it ends in freezing weather. And in between, as the temperature gradually drops, Rebecca Hall’sPassing,” based on Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel, calmly brings the diffuse racial landscape of prohibition-era New York City into crystalline, gorgeously shot focus. This radically intimate exploration of the desperately fraught concept of “passing” — being Black but pretending to be white — ought to be too ambitious for a first-time filmmaker, but Hall’s touch is unerring, deceptively delicate, quiet and immaculate, like that final fall of snow.

On a hot summer day, Irene (Tessa Thompson) is downtown on an errand. Her visible discomfort, the way she tries to retract into herself, to hide behind the gauzy brim of a hat that cuts her eyeline in two, is a silent evocation of how uncomfortable she is under the gazes of the white people around her. This time, anyway, she is mostly projecting: No one takes much notice, nothing too alarming happens. But then suddenly, stepping into the full beam of all that projection and sometimes catching the light, there’s Clare (Ruth Negga), a childhood friend visiting from Chicago, now unrecognizably glamorous, with a perfect swoop of blonde hair and arched, lightened brows framing silent-movie-It-Girl eyes…

Read the entire review here.

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How The Vanishing Half fits into our cultural fixation with racial passing stories

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2020-09-19 20:36Z by Steven

How The Vanishing Half fits into our cultural fixation with racial passing stories

Vox
2020-08-14

Constance Grady


Zac Freeland/Vox

The Vox Book Club is linking to Bookshop.org to support local and independent booksellers.

Passing for white never left.”

In Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half, the character of Stella haunts the narrative like a ghost. Stella is the half who vanished: half of her family, half of her sister’s heart. And she vanished by excising half of her own identity.

Stella is a light-skinned Black woman, and when she is 16, she decides to start passing for white. Her identical twin sister Desiree, meanwhile, grows up to marry the darkest-skinned man she can find. Stella breaks away from her family, and we don’t get a chance to meet her on the pages of the novel until nearly halfway through the book when at last her niece, Desiree’s dark-skinned daughter, tracks her down. It’s only in that last section that we finally learn exactly what happened to Stella.

Stella’s fate haunts the novel, and so does the genre her story belongs to. There’s a long history of narratives of racial passing in the American novel, and The Vanishing Half plays with the genre in new and interesting ways. So as the Vox Book Club spends the month talking about The Vanishing Half, I wanted to put it in the context of the passing novel more broadly.

To get an expert view, I called up Alisha Gaines, an English professor at Florida State University and the author of Black for a Day: White Fantasies of Race and Empathy. Together, we talked through the history of the African American passing novel, what passing looks like after Jim Crow (sorry, Ben Shapiro), and how passing novels can show us how race is produced and reproduced. Below is a transcript of our conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity.

The first African American stories of racial passing are slave narratives

Constance Grady

Do we know when the first of these narratives emerged? How old are stories about racial passing?

Alisha Gaines

It’s an old story. In literature and in life, America has a fascination with impersonation, which includes blackface minstrelsy. And passing narratives, if you want to be technical about it, in African American literature, they start with the slave narrative…

Read the entire interview here.

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BLM resources: Nella Larson’s ‘Passing’

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2020-08-28 23:54Z by Steven

BLM resources: Nella Larson’s ‘Passing’

Palatinate: Durham’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1948
Durham, United Kingdom
2020-07-28

Anna De Vivo


Image: Thomas E. Askew via U.S. Library of Congress

‘She was caught between two allegiances, different, yet the same. Herself. Her race. Race! The thing that bound and suffocated her.’ Written in 1929 but still pertinent to this day, Nella Larsen’s Passing centres around two biracial women, and explores racial identity, racism, and white privilege –significant concerns which have been propelled after the surge of global support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Racial passing is when one member of a racial group is accepted or passes as another member of a different racial category, which both protagonists of this novella undergo. The idea of racial passing gained prominence in post-Civil War America, where previously enslaved African Americans could construct a new identity and thereby evade legal and cultural oppression based on race. In essence, passing could become a tool to create a new white identity.

In Passing, after a chance encounter in the segregated Drayton Hotel in Chicago, Clare Kendry and Irene Redfield, the two protagonists, reunite after twelve years. Both women grew up together. Both women are of African American and white heritage, yet both women pass as white. But there is one significant difference: whilst Irene embraces her racial identity and passes only when she feels necessary, Clare assimilates into a white identity and marries John Bellew, her rich but racist husband…

Read the entire article here.

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Rebecca Hall Talks Complicated Notions Of Bi-Racial Identity In Directorial Debut ‘Passing,’ ‘Tales From The Loop’ & More [Deep Focus Podcast]

Posted in Articles, Arts, Audio, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2020-06-15 01:47Z by Steven

Rebecca Hall Talks Complicated Notions Of Bi-Racial Identity In Directorial Debut ‘Passing,’ ‘Tales From The Loop’ & More [Deep Focus Podcast]

The Playlist
2020-06-10

Rodrigo Perez

Actor Rebecca Hall comes from a unique and interesting pedigree and lineage. There’s the surface element of that pedigree which could be seen as aristocratic privilege in the world of the arts. She is the daughter of the famous theatre director Sir Peter Hall (who passed away in 2017) and her mother is the legendary opera singer and stage actress Maria Ewing. Hall attended Cambridge University’s constitute school, St Catharine’s College, studied English, and eventually found her way back to acting after some time briefly spent as an actor during childhood.

Known for an eclectic career that took off after an early breakthrough performance in Christopher Nolan’s “The Prestige,” Hall’s also appeared in such movies as “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” “Frost/Nixon,” Nicole Holofcener’s “Please Give,” Ben Affleck’s “The Town,” Joel Edgerton’s “The Gift,” and Antonio Campos’ striking indie “Christine” which brought her much extra acclaim to an already celebrated career.

But her personal identity, or at least the one of her parents, is much different. Hall’s mother is from Detroit, Michigan—perhaps an unlikely place as any to birth an opera singer—and bi-racial with African American and Dutch ancestry. Her grandfather was also bi-racial and to hear Hall tell it, both of them had a very complicated and complex struggle with their identity and how they appeared to others in the world.

This struggle, this question of identity and who you pass as in the world is something Hall tries to reckon with in “Passing,” her upcoming directorial debut which probably couldn’t be more timely. An adaption written by Hall as well, and something she’d been hoping to make for years, “Passing” is based on Nella Larsen’s 1920s Harlem Renaissance novel of the same name that explores the practice of racial passing, a term used for a person classified as a member of one racial group who seeks to be accepted by a different racial group. The film stars Tessa Thompson and Oscar nominee Ruth Negga as two reunited high school friends, whose renewed acquaintance ignites a mutual obsession that threatens both of their carefully constructed realities.

In this latest episode of our Deep Focus Podcast, Hall discussed “Passing” at length, including the ideas of permission and permits needed to try and tell these kinds of stories and the charges of cultural appropriation that can be lobbied at one when making them. But her original statement of intent is perhaps most succinct and eloquent when she said: “I came across [Passing] at a time when I was trying to reckon creatively with some of my personal family history, and the mystery surrounding my bi-racial grandfather on my American mother’s side. In part, making this film is an exploration of that history, to which I’ve never really had access.”

At the time, she described “Passing” as an astonishing book “about two women struggling not just with what it meant to be Black in America in 1929, but with gender conventions, the performance of femininity, the institution of marriage, the responsibilities of motherhood, and the ways in which all of those forces intersect.”…

Read the entire article and listen to the podcast (01:04:15) here.

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