In a nod to Cord Jefferson's hilarious directorial debut American Fiction – a wicked satire about the commodification of marginalised voices – we have an entire Sunday Season dedicated to classic satires, exploring the creative tension between high and low culture.
Jefferson's American Fiction pits a frustrated Black novelist against the harsh realities of the audience’s appetite for racial cliches and stereotypes. He decides to reveal the crude representations of the popular form by writing under a streetwise pseudonym only for the book to be a literary sensation.
This creative struggle goes to the heart of Hollywood: Is the artist's responsibility to their muse or the audience? This selection of films in our season aptly named Pulp Fiction, depicts that struggle played out over the decades in Hollywood.
From Preston Sturges' comedy Sullivan’s Travels (1941) where a Hollywood director longs to make a socially relevant drama and Billy Wilder’s noir classic Sunset Boulevard (1950) which memorably opens with the film’s narrator - Hollywood writer Joe Gillis - lying dead in a mansion swimming pool, to more contemporary takes such as Robert Townsend’s semi-autobiographical comedy Hollywood Shuffle (1987). The film follows a young Black man aspiring to be an actor who comes up against the litany of racial stereotypes in film and television. Plus, the Coen Brother’s darkly hilarious Barton Fink (1991) where a celebrated New York playwright is summoned to Hollywood and succumbs to writer’s block as he struggles to write a wrestling B picture.
Upcoming screenings in this season
Welcome to the Hotel Earle. What a dump. Mosquito-ravaged, peeling wallpaper, springy mattresses and boy is it hot in here. This is the symbolic backdrop of the Coen Brothers' brilliant satire about an arrogant playwright lured to 1940’s Hollywood to write for the movies who gets more than he bargained for.