The Old Negro Space Program (Ken Burns parody short film)

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Greg_S_H, Apr 22, 2005.

  1. Greg_S_H

    Greg_S_H Executive Producer

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    [c]Official Selection: HBO Aspen Comedy Festival 2004
    Official Selection: Calgary International Film Festival 2004
    Best Film Award: First Sundays Film Festival 2004

    [​IMG]

    THE SHOCKING-BUT-FALSE STORY OF AMERICA'S BLACKSTRONAUTS[/c]

    DISCLAIMER: I suppose this is a potentially-offensive short film, but it has been winning awards at respected festivals and I certainly don't believe the filmmaker's intentions were in any way racist. I am convinced most of you will agree, and I trust the mods will remove this post swiftly if it is indeed deemed offensive.

    The film is very funny, and provides a lot of quotable material. I will refrain from mentioning any favorites until those of you who haven't seen it have a chance to do so. Warning! The language gets pretty salty at times. The entire film can be downloaded in various formats and in various sizes here:

    http://www.negrospaceprogram.com/

    By the way, I don't know if my subject line is clear. This is a parody of a Ken Burns-style documentary. As the film notes, it was NOT made by Ken Burns! [​IMG]
     
  2. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Funny stuff. Gets the tone of a Ken Burns piece down perfectly, and the academic is just hysterically funny. (That is to say, extremely humorous, or, if you will, very amusing.)

    [​IMG]

    Joe
     
  3. Eric Eash

    Eric Eash Second Unit

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    watched that about a month ago and had all my coworkers cracking up. very good film!
     
  4. Lou Sytsma

    Lou Sytsma Producer

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    A well done, tongue-in-cheek, spoof.
     
  5. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    I like the guy shooting up into the tree on fire from some sort of catapult.

    I forget now what the exact words were, but something like "he walked it off" or something. [​IMG]

    And if you pause and read the front page about them getting to the moon first you see that it describes it like a couple of foolish negroes got lost and ended up on the moon like idiots. That's funny stuff, good parody of racist spin.
     
  6. Greg_S_H

    Greg_S_H Executive Producer

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    Yeah, that newspaper clipping showed a nice attention to details. I have quite a few old blues CDs, and they sometimes include pictures of the original releases. The condescending language is almost identical in both instances. The "Whites Only" sign on the capsule is also funny parody. And, who knew that about Buzz Aldrin? [​IMG]

    "If I know Loopy Louie, he's shootin' up again!"

    BTW, just a little trivia in case you didn't read the credits: the man who plays the African studies professor also wrote and directed the short.
     
  7. Anthony Wolfe

    Anthony Wolfe Stunt Coordinator

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    One can't help but wonder if this film would be considered as funny if it were poking fun of Jews in Nazi Germany. Didn't think so.
     
  8. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Cinematographer

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    Huh? No thread crapping please!

    This is a simple parody and nothing more.
     
  9. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Actually, "one" can easily "help but wonder" about that, since the film isn't "poking fun" at anyone but Ken Burns. Those of us who don't insist on looking for things to be offended by, reading racisim into innocent parodies where it clearly doesn't exist, or letting our own mild paranoia color everything we see have no trouble recognizing when a joke is just a joke. The fact is "one" has to be looking awfully hard for something to get "one's" panties in a knot about for that comparison to even cross "one's" mind.

    Or do you think there really was a Negro Space program and that the film is making fun of the people who participated in it?

    I could as easily say:

    "One can't help but wonder if this film would be considered even mildly offensive by people who aren't smug, santcimonious, humorless gits who assume they possess a vast moral superiority to others. Didn't think so."

    Is that your idea of a fair critique?

    BTW, is anyone else offended by the cheap and facile use of the murders of millions of human beings as a way to criticize a film about a fictional event, or the casual invocation of name of one of the most murderous regimes in human history for the same purpose? What ever happened to a sense of proportion. For that matter what happened to the internet rule that says the first one who inokes the Nazis has declared intellectual bankruptcy and automatically loses the argument? [​IMG]

    See, it's easy to play the "offended" card.

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  10. Diallo B

    Diallo B Screenwriter

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    i watched it last week. i decided not to comment and threadcap then........... but on this recent commentary i will not comment except:

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Cinematographer

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    Well said Joseph. This is a parody of a Ken Burns film, and if anyone should be offended, it should be employees of NASA and white America of the 50s who created the situation for such a parody to be made.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the film and have watched it twice so far, and shared it with my parents.
     
  12. Steve Felix

    Steve Felix Supporting Actor

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    I agree. But since it's poking fun at Ken Burns and 50s racism, it's hilarious.
     
  13. Greg_S_H

    Greg_S_H Executive Producer

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    It's not that far removed from what I've seen on Chappelle's Show, particular his Profiles in Courage about the man who broke the color barrier irt toilets. I don't know if that's a regular skit on his show, but it was almost the exact approach to the same material.
     
  14. John Spencer

    John Spencer Supporting Actor

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    So this offends you, but you said nothing about White Noise? That seems rather uneven.


    [/sarcasm]
     
  15. Anthony Wolfe

    Anthony Wolfe Stunt Coordinator

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    Well spoken Joseph. Oh, but there is just one more thing. You see, the author of this particular thread posted a disclaimer, let me paste that for you:

    "DISCLAIMER: I suppose this is a potentially-offensive short film, but it has been winning awards at respected festivals and I certainly don't believe the filmmaker's intentions were in any way racist. I am convinced most of you will agree, and I trust the mods will remove this post swiftly if it is indeed deemed offensive."

    Wow, it's funny that in all of your banter which basically implies that I am a cynic that has read into something which doesn't appear to be there, you fail to mention the big disclaimer that the thread author posted.

    Good Job!

    And it is the exact same situation Joseph, instead of letting your emotionally charged words dictate your response, you should try and use logic and analysis. My point was, if this were a short story (regardless of WHOM/WHAT it was poking fun of) that featured Jews telling a backstory that included them being stripped of their basic rights to live, we would not be having the same discussion.

    I understand that it is poking fun of Ken Burns, but if you cannot see my point in that it is making light of a horrible time in U.S. history, than I do not know what to say to you.

    Maybe I can be a bit clearer. If this film started out detailing the Warsaw ghetto, and how "David Schwartz" and his extremely orthodox Jewish crew flew planes all around Nazi Germany, we would have a totally different outlook on the whole situation. Or at least that's how I see it, I could be wrong. Two ways to look at things Joseph!
     
  16. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp

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    The Yiddish space program? Using discarded rockets from the Luftwaffa,only the Jews get them to fly? Done in a Ken Burns style? Hillarious! As long as it is done as parady, and not as propaganda, than I don't have a problem with it. I also like your characters name "David Schwartz", which is German for "David Black" or "Black David". A very clever way to incorporate TONSP into your example. Good job Anthony!

    I thought this was a great spoof of the Ken Burns style of documentary. If you are a fan of this, you might enjoy the "Mr. Show with Bob And David" skit "The Civel War: The Re-Enactments". As good as "The Old Negro Space Program" is, I still think this is my favorite.
     
  17. Anthony Wolfe

    Anthony Wolfe Stunt Coordinator

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    It's not that big of a deal, I was just throwing the comment out there because I feel it to be true. I don't wish for the parody to be flagged, burned, butchered, banned or any such nonsense, it was just a simple observation on hypocrisy (or at least, that's what I meant it to be). Lets not get all hurt over it.
     
  18. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Producer

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    The reason why Naziism is still a prosecutable offense in Germany is, at root, the fact that the people have not yet learned to laugh at it. When Neo-Nazis appear, they are taken seriously. Conversely, virtually any American today will mock a Klansman who dares to appear in his regalia utterly to derision. The very fact that racist attitudes are considered more ridiculous than reprehensible in America today, less a sign of malice than of idiocy, is the greatest indicator of progress in race relations that could exist.

    Note: I was originally going to reply with "Would the world be a more pleasant place if you would just SHUT UP? I thought so.", but I concluded that Mr. Wolfe actually deserved a more mature response than that.
     
  19. Anthony Wolfe

    Anthony Wolfe Stunt Coordinator

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    Eh, I mean, sure a lot of folks feel that way, but you still have a lot of...*sigh*...lets not even get into that whole issue. I just personally saw some elements that I found to be distastefull nad almost a mocking of what has happened, and thought that I would make a simple comment. I am in no way trying to provoke a war, just making a simple comment.
     
  20. Seth--L

    Seth--L Screenwriter

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    Yeah, but it still fed on black stereotypes, such as the letter the astronaut wrote to his wife. According to Hollywood, with the exception of Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington, all blacks speak that way. That part was also poorly written. If you're going to curse, you have to be poetic, a la David Mamet, or it just sounds like the writer is going for the shock value of the word. Besides that though, it was quite funny.

    Seeing that there were so many pan and zooms of pictures, the filmmakers should have done this in Avid since it has a superb "pan & zoom" effect (called the Ken Burn's effect) which looks much more fluid and filmic than the software they used.
     

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