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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‘Passing for white’: how a taboo film genre is being revived to expose racial privilege

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-08-22 00:48Z by Steven

‘Passing for white’: how a taboo film genre is being revived to expose racial privilege

The Guardian
2018-08-20

Janine Bradbury, Senior Lecturer in Literature; School Learning and Teaching Lead
School of Humanities, Religion & Philosophy
York St John University, York, United Kingdom

SUSAN KOHNER and JUANITA MOORE in Imitation of Life
Crossing the colour line … Susan Kohner and Juanita Moore as daughter and mother in Douglas Sirk’s Imitation of Life (1959). Photograph: www.ronaldgrantarchive.com

Rebecca Hall’sdirectorial debut is an adaptation of Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel Passing, a theme little seen since the likes of Show Boat and Pinky

Hollywood once loved films about passing. The genre was popular in the 1940s and 50s, when segregation was rife and the “one-drop rule” – which deemed anybody with even a trace of African ancestry to be black – prevailed. Box-office hits included Elia Kazan’s Pinky (1949) and George Sidney’s musical Show Boat (1951), which featured light-skinned, mixed-race characters who passed for white in the hopes of enjoying the privileges whiteness confers. The secrets, the scandal and the sheer sensationalism of it all made for excellent melodrama.

Now Rebecca Hall, the star of Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Red Riding, is revisiting the genre with her directorial debut, an adaptation of Nella Larsen’s seminal 1929 novel Passing. Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga will feature in the project, which tells the story of childhood friends, Clare Kendry and Irene Redfield, who are both light-skinned enough to pass for white but choose to live on opposite sides of the colour line…

…How will Hall negotiate the tricky history of the genre? Even though it was a real-life phenomenon, most films about passing, including Pinky and Show Boat, have literary roots. William Wells Brown’s 1853 anti-slavery novel Clotel, which imagines the fate of Thomas Jefferson’s mixed race progeny, is perhaps the first American passing novel. Brown used passing to expose the arbitrary nature of white privilege. His mixed-race characters were a manifest symbol of the reality that many powerful, supposedly God-fearing white slaveholding men were coercing and raping enslaved black women and condemning their own children to a life in bondage (although, as Beyoncé recently revealed, not all unions were of this nature)…

Read the entire article here.

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Rebecca Hall To Make Directorial Debut With ‘Passing’; Tessa Thompson & Ruth Negga Star In Adaptation Of 1920s Novel

Posted in Articles, Arts, Passing, United States, Women on 2018-08-07 03:40Z by Steven

Rebecca Hall To Make Directorial Debut With ‘Passing’; Tessa Thompson & Ruth Negga Star In Adaptation Of 1920s Novel

Deadline Hollywood
2018-08-06

Amanda N’Duka

Rebecca Hall Tessa Thompson Ruth Negga
Shutterstock

EXCLUSIVE: Rebecca Hall has set up Passing, an adaptation based on Nella Larsen’s 1920s Harlem Renaissance novel 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. Hall has penned the script and will direct in her feature helming debut, with Westworld star Tessa Thompson and Oscar nominee Ruth Negga attached to star in the film.

Margot Hand of Picture Films and Oren Moverman of Sight Unseen are producing, with Angela Robinson serving as executive producer.

First published in 1929, Passing follows the unexpected reunion of two high school friends, Clare Kendry (Negga) and Irene Redfield (Thompson), whose renewed acquaintance ignites a mutual obsession that threatens both of their carefully constructed realities…

Read the entire article here.

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Ruth Negga: ‘Stories about race and identity pique my interest… I have always felt like a fish out of water’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Europe, Interviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2017-01-06 00:24Z by Steven

Ruth Negga: ‘Stories about race and identity pique my interest… I have always felt like a fish out of water’

The Belfast Telegraph
2016-12-31

Patricia Danaher


Starring role: Ruth Negga’s career is going from strength to strength

Nominated for a Golden Globe, tipped for an Oscar and on the cover of Vogue, Ruth Negga is the woman of the moment. Here, the actress tells Patricia Danaher how growing up mixed race in the Republic helped her inhabit the role that’s made her a star

It seems somewhat fitting that, as the cover star of US Vogue’s January edition, Ruth Negga wears an Alexander Wang blouse covered in red roses. After all, back home in Ireland it’s for her role as Rosie in Love/Hate that Ruth is perhaps best known.

That part, as the star-crossed lover of the show’s original protagonist Darren (played by Robert Sheehan) was, of course, just one of the many times the Limerick woman has graced TV screens in recent years. The chameleon-like actress has also featured in such diverse productions as Neil Jordan’s Breakfast on Pluto, edgy Channel 4 show Misfits, and big-budget US series Agents of Shield and Preacher.

In the UK, she works almost continuously on video games, in theatre and on TV – winning critical acclaim for her portrayal of Ophelia at the National Theatre and of Shirley Bassey in a BBC biopic about the singer. Despite these numerous prominent roles, however, 35-year-old Ruth has managed to stay mostly under the radar in her long career.

Until now, that is. Nominated earlier this month for a Golden Globe and hotly tipped for an Oscar, she’s gone from jobbing actor to Vogue cover girl in the blink of an eye. In Hollywood, those who have just discovered Ruth through her role in new movie Loving are calling her “an overnight success, 10 years in the making”…

Read the entire article here.

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Where Has All the Loving Gone? A Review of the New Film, ‘Loving’

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, History, Law, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2016-12-18 01:38Z by Steven

Where Has All the Loving Gone? A Review of the New Film, ‘Loving’

African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS)
2016-11-27

Peter Cole, Professor of History
Western Illinois University

A new film about the Southern working class couple whose love and dedication broke the back of anti-miscegenation laws across the nation arrives just in time. Released days prior to Donald Trump’s election, viewers of Loving might be shocked to discover that anti-racist, blue-collared, white men—like Richard Loving—walked Southern soil. He was brave (or ignorant) enough to think he could get away with marrying a black woman; wise enough to know she was smarter than him. His deferral to her effort to seek legal counsel ultimately overturned laws banning interracial marriage in the landmark Supreme Court decision, Loving v. Virginia (1967).

Beneath the film, the Lovings’ story also speaks to the centuries-long effort by white supremacists to create a “white race” and defend it from “race-mixing”(also called miscegenation). In 1958, Richard Loving, 23, and Mildred Jeter, 17, married in the District of Columbia. They did so because Virginia outlawed interracial marriages, one of twenty-four states with similar laws at the time. Richard was “white,” Mildred “black” though actually a mixture of African American and Rappahannock Indian.

So began their nine-year odyssey that ended with the Court unanimously ruling that states could not prevent a man and a woman from marrying, regardless of their racial identities. Written and directed by Jeff Nichols, critics at Cannes hailed the motion picture and Oscar buzz has begun. The film deserves high praise and wide viewership, anchored by incredible performances from Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton, the two principal actors…

Read the entire review here.

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Loving Star Ruth Negga on Biracial Politics: “I Get Very Territorial About My Identity”

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Interviews, Media Archive on 2016-12-11 14:44Z by Steven

Loving Star Ruth Negga on Biracial Politics: “I Get Very Territorial About My Identity”

Vogue
2016-12-07

Gaby Wood

With her mesmerizing performance in Jeff Nichols’s subtly groundbreaking film Loving, the Irish-Ethiopian actress Ruth Negga has become a star for our time.

“I’m a rag of a woman today,” Ruth Negga says in her faint Irish accent. She is pointing to her chipped green nail polish and apologizing for her eyebrows. She cut her hair herself, she says, before asking a professional to tidy it up. Earlier today she went to get her passport renewed. “Maybe . . . you could—blend?” the photographer said, gesturing around his face. She took a look and realized she had been quite slapdash with her bronzer and powder.

By lunchtime, there’s no trace of this—with her huge, doll-like eyes and closely cropped hair, she is as glamorous as a thirties aviator in Paige jeans and an olive bomber jacket—but it’s easy enough to imagine Negga dismissing vanity as a fool’s game. Her gift for self-mockery and her appetite for the craic—an Irish expression for fun or gossip or high jinks—are matched only by her levels of propulsion: Her neat, tiny frame always seems to move forward at great speed.

When director Jeff Nichols was trying to get financing for Loving, in which Negga and Joel Edgerton star as Mildred and Richard Loving—the real-life interracial couple whose quest to be considered legally married in 1958 Virginia became a landmark civil-rights case—he kept hearing the same thing: “Who’s Ruth Negga?” Few people are asking that now, but even so, Negga is not offended. “I’ve been working. Keeping a low profile—until bam!” She laughs. “Nothing slow and steady about me.”…

Read the entire article here.

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19 Black UK Actresses Who Are Killing The Game Across The Pond

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States, Women on 2016-11-24 19:36Z by Steven

19 Black UK Actresses Who Are Killing The Game Across The Pond

Essence
2016-11-17

Sydney Scott

There’s tons of talent coming out of the UK, with many actresses crossing the pond and appearing in some of our favorite television shows and movies. There are too many talented actresses to name, but we had to share some of our favorites with you. From well-known names and recognizable faces to those just bursting onto the scene, here are 19 of our favorite UK actresses…

Read the entire article here.

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‘Loving’ revisits a landmark Supreme Court case with radical restraint

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2016-11-13 20:49Z by Steven

‘Loving’ revisits a landmark Supreme Court case with radical restraint

The Washington Post
2016-11-10

Ann Hornaday, Film Critic

Loving’ is a quietly radical movie. A portrait of Richard and Mildred Loving, who became unwitting activists for interracial marriage when they wed in 1958, this gentle, deeply affecting story dispenses with the usual conventions of stirring appeals to the audience’s social conscience.

Viewers expecting a climactic showdown at the United States Supreme Court — which in 1967 handed down the landmark decision bearing the Lovings’ name, declaring anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional — or highly pitched speeches about civil rights, privacy and marriage equality will be surprised by a film that steadfastly avoids the most obvious and tempting theatrical manipulations. Instead, viewers are confronted by something far more revolutionary and transformative, in the form of two people’s devotion to each other, and the deep-seated psychological and state forces driven to derangement by that purest emotional truth.

Based on Nancy Buirski’s wonderful 2012 HBO documentary “The Loving Story” and judiciously dramatized by writer-director Jeff Nichols, “Loving” gets underway just as Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred (Ruth Negga) decide to get married, after Mildred discovers she’s pregnant. A longtime couple in the rural town of Central Point, Va., Richard and Mildred reflect the organic ethnic integration of a community in which white, black and Native American citizens routinely befriended and relied on each other…

Read the entire review here.

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Hollywood has long shown discomfort with interracial couples, but change is happening

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2016-11-11 02:22Z by Steven

Hollywood has long shown discomfort with interracial couples, but change is happening

The Los Angeles Times
2016-11-10

Lewis Beale


Katherine Houghton puts a flower in Sidney Poitier’s hair in a scene from the film “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner.” (Getty Images)

In 1967, the same year the Supreme Court case Loving vs. Virginia struck down laws banning miscegenation, Sidney Poitier starred in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” as a black man romantically involved with blond Katherine Houghton.

Yet in both real and reel life, black-white romantic relationships were problematic, fraught with legal and social taboos. In the case of Loving, that meant rural Virginia couple Richard and Mildred Loving, who married in Washington, D.C., in 1958, were arrested in their home state, forced to move away or be jailed, and spent years fighting the racist law that affected them until the Supreme Court unanimously overturned it.

“The fact any miscegenation laws even existed, these are vestiges of slavery,” says Jeff Nichols, director of “Loving,” a new film based on the famous case starring Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga. “All of this speaks to the institutionalized racism in the South.”

“Guess,” which was released six months after the Loving decision, was, in its own way, meant to be a liberal antidote to situations like this. In director Stanley Kramer’s film,  parents and friends of the romantic couple discuss the pros and cons of their romance in a civilized manner until the woman’s father (played by Spencer Tracy) gives his blessing to the relationship…

Read the entire article here.

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EXCLUSIVE: Ruth Negga on How Feeling Alien Inspired Her Oscar-Worthy Performance and the Power of ‘Loving’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2016-11-06 19:24Z by Steven

EXCLUSIVE: Ruth Negga on How Feeling Alien Inspired Her Oscar-Worthy Performance and the Power of ‘Loving’

Entertainment Tonight
2016-11-06

John Boone


Photo: Getty Images

Ruth Negga may go from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to the Academy Awards, which is no easy feat even for a Marvel superhero. The 34-year-old actress may be most recognizable for her comic book fare — she also appeared in Warcraft: The Beginning and currently stars on AMC’s Preacher — but that very well may change because of Loving, a small, quiet film centered on the landmark court case that legalized interracial marriage. The film isn’t actually about the case, though, it’s about the Lovings behind Loving v. Virginia. What does it mean to her to get Oscar buzz for this movie?

“That people will know who Mildred and Richard Loving were,” she explained. “It surprised me that more people don’t know about them, because I think they’re a couple that America should be extraordinarily proud of. The world should be proud of.”…

Read the entire article here.

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