PRINT November 1994


WHEN BELL HOOKS, THE DOYENNE OF BLACK CULTURAL STUDIES, writes in the essay that follows of her passionate relationship to writing, I think of my own struggles with the written word, which aren’t passionate at all. Filmmaking is my passion—except that filmmaking involves so much writing.

I know bell as writer, as speaker, and as friend. Her essay on Looking for Langston in her book Black Looks was by far the best and clearest piece of critical writing about my film, and has endeared her to me ever since. Her critical assessment of my subsequent films has been equally both generous and tough. And as bell’s friend, I’m always conscious of the generosity of her interactions with people, whether friends, critics, or adversaries. Her passionate friendships mirror the work process she so eloquently describes below.

Bell’s vision of critical practice has informed all my film work: “talking back,”

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