We are delighted to bring Robert Townsend’s debut hit comedy back to the big screen – a deeply satirical look at the racial stereotyping that black people face in Hollywood.
In the mid-1980s, despite having had supporting roles in several Hollywood films, Robert Townsend was still struggling to find fresh opportunities as a black actor. Fed up with Hollywood racism, he decided to scrape together $100,000 to make his own film. And so, the semi-autobiographical Hollywood Shuffle was born: the tale of Bobby Taylor (Townsend), an actor and hot-dog stand employee dreaming of Hollywood success. After being cast as the lead role in the regrettably titled exploitation film ‘Jivetime Jimmy’s Revenge’, we enter Bobby’s head as he experiences a series of dreams satirising African American stereotypes in Hollywood. Feeling conflicted, he is forced to choose between accepting roles that open doors but ultimately degrade him, or turning down work with his principles intact.
Hilarious, subversive, and deeply thought-provoking, Hollywood Shuffle was a pioneering film that saw Townsend and countless others soar to success. Today it remains a powerful reminder of how far we’ve come, and how far we have to go.
Hollywood Shuffle is screening as part of NO B/S!, a programme of screenings and events in Bristol that celebrate the many tones of Black comedy. NO B/S! is part of Comedy Genius, a national celebration of comedy onscreen, led by BFI, the Independent Cinema Office and BFI Film Audience network, supported by funds from the National Lottery. #bficomedy
Presented with the support of the Independent Cinema Office and BFI, awarding funds from The National Lottery.