Chris Rock’s documentary “Good Hair” wins at Sundance Film Festival 2009

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One of the topics I write about regularly on this blog is black women and their hair, from the prospective of a proponent of natural hair being styled and worn in celebration of its rich range of textures.

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Unfortunately, we in the US live with images that long and straight or somewhat wavy hair is status quo.  For black women, the issue of hair length is something that makes the biblical tale of Samson and Delilah as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago.

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Chris Rock has taken on this subject with his documentary entitled “Good Hair” that recently won a Special Jury Prize in the US Documentary Feature Films category at Sundance 2009.

Film description as written on official webpage for Sundance Film Festival

When Chris Rock’s daughter, Lola, came up to him crying and asked, “Daddy, how come I don’t have good hair?” the bewildered comic committed himself to search the ends of the earth and the depths of black culture to find out who had put that question into his little girl’s head! Director Jeff Stilson’s camera followed the funnyman, and the result is Good Hair, a wonderfully insightful and entertaining, yet remarkably serious, documentary about African American hair culture.  An exposé of comic proportions that only Chris Rock could pull off, Good Hair visits hair salons and styling battles, scientific laboratories, and Indian temples to explore the way black hairstyles impact the activities, pocketbooks, sexual relationships, and self-esteem of black people. Celebrities such as Ice-T, Kerry Washington, Nia Long, Paul Mooney, Raven Symoné, Maya Angelou, and Reverend Al Sharpton all candidly offer their stories and observations to Rock while he struggles with the task of figuring out how to respond to his daughter’s question. What he discovers is that black hair is a big business that doesn’t always benefit the black community and little Lola’s question might well be bigger than his ability to convince her that the stuff on top of her head is nowhere near as important as what is inside.

click HERE to visit Chris Rock’s documentary page on Sundance.org

Excerpt from CBS News…

While loaded with the 43-year-old actor-comedian’s wisecracking humor, “Good Hair” also raises serious questions about identity and equality among black women who feel they need long, straight, silky hair to fit into white society.

“It’s this whole thing about approval. That approval is not simply, `I want white people to love me.’ It’s like, `I need a job. I want to move forward, and if I have a hairstyle that is somewhat intimidating, that’s going to stop me from moving forward,”‘ said Nelson George, executive producer of “Good Hair.”

click HERE to read full article

Excerpt from the Wall Street Journal

“A hair documentary, especially for a guy, is a hard sell — no, it’s a weird sell,” says the 43-year-old comedian, who both produced and wrote “Good Hair.” The low-budget documentary traces the growth of the $9 billion industry rooted in the maintenance of African-American hair and its place in ethnic community and culture…

…But for two years Mr. Rock pursued the project with the team behind his critically acclaimed HBO series “The Chris Rock Show.” (HBO owns “Good Hair,” but is open to selling the theatrical rights.) Inspired by what he calls his young daughter’s “hair envy,” or uneasiness with her naturally curly hair, Mr. Rock set out to investigate the nexus of power and politics related to how African-Americans style their hair.

The above Wall Street Journal article contains an excellent interview with Chris Rock on this subject, so I encourage you to read the full article entitled “A Comic’s ‘Good Hair’ Day

Excerpt from the Black Film Academy

“It’s really deep and funny… I did a Michael Moore expose on hair,” he tells WENN…Rock and Stilson, (a producer and writer on “The Chris Rock Show”) also traveled to Birmingham, Memphis, and Dallas, to interview and tape some hairdressers as they prepped for the annual Bonner Brothers Hair Show in Atlanta…

read full article HERE

I’ll definitely keep my eye out for this documentary.  Kudos to Chris Rock for finally deciding to put this project in motion.  It’s a subject that seems to never get old, but definitely sits in different spaces depending on the era.

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