In light of the recent killings of Black Americans, we at Portland Film Review started a conversation about how best to respond to these events. We debated the most appropriate way for three white people who write about movies to use our platform and recognized the immense amount of privilege that has allowed us to remain silent in the past. While we are under no delusion that we hold any authority on race in the United States, we all agree that the worst response would be to do nothing and be complicit in white silence.
Films have the power to influence people, and that power can be used to reinforce racist ideologies or to challenge them. Films have always been political: from D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation (1915) to the exclusion of Black performers from Academy Award recognition, the history of filmmaking is filled with bigotry and bias. Filmmaking privileges white voices. We recognize that film only represents a sliver of the enormous cultural and political shifts that must occur, but it is the part that we are most connected with.
Film criticism is also complicit in this silence. Looking back on our published articles and reviews from the last three years, we were ashamed to find the dearth of coverage of films created by filmmakers of color. It is not enjoyable to confront one’s own inherent biases incarnate, but doing so is the only way to educate oneself. As film critics, we have not done even close to an adequate job representing the diversity of films and filmmakers working today. With this in mind, we are committing ourselves to do better. As a publication, we vow to better educate ourselves and challenge our own biases. We pledge to increase our coverage of films made by Black directors and films that confront racism. Portland Film Review may only be a small corner of film criticism, but we can nonetheless commit to improving it.