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Witches' Brew: Brewhind the Scenes: "Our Family Wedding"

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Brewhind the Scenes: "Our Family Wedding"

It's a culture clash of sorts at the box office this weekend. "Our Family Wedding" starring Lance Gross and America Ferrera opened Friday and already critics are giving the film bigups calling it a "pleasantly diverting tale of successful minority Americans..." The Brew already previewed the film, but recently we got a chance to sit down with Zola Mashariki, Senior Vice President of Production at Fox Searchlight Pictures to get some behind the scene scoop!

Zola is doing big things in Hollywood. She is one of only a handful of successful sistahs who can buy projects and get movies made!  We appreciate her taking some time for The Brew, so let's get it: 

Q. How is "Our Family Wedding" different than other movies?
"The truth is that it's not that different from other wedding movies, and that is exactly what we wanted to show. Planning a wedding can be stressful and complicated for families of any race, so the wedding planning aspects of our story are very relatable and universal.
But what makes the film different from other movies we've seen in the past is that we didn't make the conflict about how people of color relate to whites, we made it about how they relate to each other.  I think often minorities are depicted as a monolithic group, but the truth is we don't all have the same point of view about race, religion, class, language and other important issues.  This started to be discussed when it became clear that Hillary Clinton was getting strong support from Latinos, while Barack Obama was not.  But once the primary was over, Barack did a great job of including all races in his campaign agenda, so the divergent perspectives of Black and Latinos was swept under the rug.  I like that this movie debunks the myth that problems of race are only about white people.

The movie is also different in that it isn't attempting to say that "every black person is like this" or "every Mexican person is like that", as it is hard to characterize an entire group in one 2-hour film.  We are trying to show different images, but by no means are we saying these are the only images that exist within those communities.  I really like that we are revealing sides of both cultures that aren't often seen in film."

Q. What do you want viewers to take away from this film?
"I want people to notice the difference between each generation in the families.  In the Mexican family, the grandmother's racism is overt, while the parents are covertly prejudiced and the kids don't see race at all.  I think it shows how far we have come in a short period of time and how each generation sees things different.  Similarly, I love the depiction of the father/son relationship-- Forest Whitaker and Lance Gross did a great job of showing a single dad and child who can be best friends.  I really love that, and hope we get to make more movies like this."

Q. We love that America Ferrera is in a lead role since we feel most people have overlooked her type of beauty.  Talk about why she was picked to star in the film.  Why Lance Gross?
"America is beautiful and relatable, and as a collaborator she is incredibly passionate and insightful about her work.  She understood the story we were trying to tell and her notes helped make it stronger.  I loved working with her.  Lance is dashing, and we knew his star was rising and wanted to be in business with him.  We also picked him because he has great comedic timing.  We wanted these characters to feel real but we didn't want it to become too dramatic or come off like an after-school special.  America and Lance are both lovable and charming and we knew they would have great chemistry together."

Q. Why did Fox Searchlight go against the usual black/white couple and do black/Latina? Is that really a stretch or considered "interracial" since both are minority groups?
"Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, I felt a strong kinship between African-Americans and Latinos but when I moved to Los Angeles it felt more stratified, and I'm not sure why.  I wanted to explore the differences and similarities between Blacks and Mexicans--though honestly, this movie could be about any two cultures--it could be about Mexicans and Puerto Ricans, Black and Asians, anyone.  I just wanted to have some discourse and show that at times these groups stand in solidarity but at times they don't.  The ultimate lesson of other film is that no one culture should outweigh the other. I like that!"

Zola's next project, "Just Wright", starring Queen Latifah, Common and Paula Patton is scheduled to hit theaters in May. 

Let's support both of these films so Hollywood will get the hint that we appreciate good black movies with intelligent and compelling storylines. Brewchie out!

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