Social issues have always been and will always be a big part of my life

Bryan Anton Rose, American film director, writer, author, and inspirational speaker noted for his films dealing in youth social issues.

Bryan was the first African American to be voted “Best Writer” at the Danville High School and excelled in athletics. At 23, he made his first film “Colored Black”, a documentary about how young African Americans view themselves in comparison to other races that was soon followed by another documentary “The Bottoms” (Urban renewal and Remembering A Neighbourhood), in which he worked with the accomplished filmmaker Mike Boedicker. Bryan was offered the Genius Grant to make four more segments of Colored Black in New York and complete a highly anticipated film “The Good Child” about a young man’s view of the church. His narrative film “Life with Siren” exposes the slave like conditions in a northern Indian tea garden. He shares his views with Abhjit Ganguly.

Why are you so interested in social issues?

It starts with my faith. I am a Third Culture Christian. I always faced the reality of being a Black American growing up in a diverse community in the US. I know the issues of every society and culture and I take it personally. If I see any injustice made to women I think of saying something about it or doing something about it. Social issues have always been and will always be a big part of my life.

In India I look at race relations between individuals. Being in America, my grandparents struggled for equality. I see in India that has not really happened so much yet. India is an exciting place for me. The youth are the heartbeat of social change here. Social issues are definitely what I am going to be involved in. India needs its filmmaking community to bring about change in society. They need to reveal the truth about what is going on. I also plan to do that in India.

“Coloured Black” showed the gap between coloured and white communities in the US in the past. What are your views about the growing importance of African Americans in the US, even in the White House?

I didn’t accept the Genius Grant, instead I chose to relocate to a flat in the South Shore section of Chicago to make the segments of Colored Black. That was around the same time Barack Obama started to prepare his first presidential run and Chicago was such an exciting place to be in during that period in America.

Bryan at International Institute of Film and Television
That Film, “Colored Black” was definitely a racially charged project. I was only 23 at the time and I grew up in a very diverse community so race relations were not very important in my life, so it was a learning experience for me. President Obama, who endorsed the film and met with one of the actors, is a key figure in the importance of diversity in any powerful yet positive position. I look forward to when I can see Black Indians in positions of influence.

Is Urban Renewal and Remembering a Neighbour- hood (The Bottoms) just nostalgic or do you show the closing of the urban-rural divide in the country?

In “The Bottoms”, there is a mix of both nostalgia and the negative of gentrification that is shown on screen. My father’s family lived in the community that was uprooted and yes, there were a lot of hurt feelings from the neighbourhood families. But moving onto a better situation was the key for them. The film mostly highlighted the positive memories the Bottom’s residents shared during their time spent.

What do you think of your documentary on Indian education?

Education is everything in India. It indicates social status. It is big business. I come from a culture of people who want to know if you can do the work. For instance, when I hire someone I don’t see where they have studied, rather I see their portfolio. I am more performance- based. One thing I love about the Indian education system is its competitiveness. But again people are like machines, they memorize a lot but can’t solve problems. I am not really interested in memorizing. I learned a lot while doing that documentary.

What are your upcoming projects?

I am presently producing and directing a very controversial Hindi/English film titled “First Lady” about an emotionally abandoned pastor’s wife who moonlights under a different persona looking for affection in the darkest places.
I am expecting a lot of protests and backlash for this project, I expect people will understand it clearly once they see it. I have been in India a few years and understand the culture of things, so I am sure that many organizations and individuals will have a problem with the film. Good thing I don’t make films to make friends. This is the first narrative film in India I am financing myself, hopefully it will not be the last.

What do you think of filmmakers of India?

They have so much talent! In US the music is the culture. In India film is the culture. So film is much more important. But brilliant filmmakers are not necessarily telling the truth openly yet. When they start telling the truth openly a new style of film making will emerge.

Your advice to aspiring filmmakers in India?

Honestly, creativity is the easy part. Don’t be afraid to be a good businessman. You need to get finance for your film. Formulate a serious business plan and get film finance. You need to learn to make profit while preserving your artistic integrity.

1 comment:

  1. Great article! Where can we see the films? It's interesting that his hometown is near where I live.


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