Roughly 75% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and while that may not have been the situation for Michelle and Barack Obama, Southside With You explores their relationship and raises questions about black cinema that everyone needs answered.
Southside With You is a new independent film about Michelle and Barack Obama’s very first date, way back in the summer of 1989.
The entire film takes place in the span of a single afternoon, and as the title suggests, is set in the Chicago’s South Side.
It depicts all of the normal antics of a typical first date scenario — Barack is late, Michelle refuses to admit she’s on a date — the stereotypical awkward antics are all there.
However, when film critics reviewed the movie, they found that the film’s simplicity offered a lot more than they were expecting.
This is, in part, because it’s so rare to see everyday black romance on the silver screen.
The film is “not about other things, it’s just about the two of them getting to know each other,” said NPR’s movie critic, Bob Mondello.
“What’s remarkable about the film is that at any given moment, it’s not being remarkable. It’s being lifelike. And that is such a rarity in movies. You don’t see African-American characters behaving in a way that is just, sort of, normal.”
This, and other shortcomings, are why organizers of the Capital City Black Film Festival are thinking bigger than ever.
The ever-growing four-day film event was created by African-American filmmakers and enthusiasts to showcase black experiences within cinema.
“This year’s opening night theme is ‘Film & Fashion.’ We will be taking a look at iconic black films that had wonderful costumes and fashions for its era,” explains festival director Winston G. Williams.
The festival’s list of panel members and film showing grows every year, and this year is sure to be the biggest yet.
With films like Carmen Jones and Out of Bounds: Sports in the Inner City being shown in the midst of several notable panel speakers, the festival is packed full of events and entertainment.
“Long-term, I want the festival to be a must for films by and about black people. We want the world to recognize our brand, and give clout to the filmmaker who has our laurel or crest affixed to their film,” said Williams.
While Southside With You may not be shown at this year’s festival, it’s sure to become a classic in years to come.
Although the presence of everyday black love grew on the screen in the ’90s, it is once again rare to see two black characters fall in love and share a relationship thereafter in any movies.
That fact alone is what makes Southside With You stand out.