A Mulatto Sundance Film Festival Travelogue

Sundance 2013I was thrilled to attend this year’s Sundance not only because I hadn’t been, as a moviegoer, since 2008, but because this time my name was actually attached to a film. In this year of our lord, AD 2013, I had the honor/privilege of being one of a group of cinematographers on 99% – The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film.

What better excuse to seek out mulatto conversation at Sundance?

My initial goal was to watch as many films as possible. I ended up seeing three—the 99% Film being one of them, another being a Slamdance movie. I otherwise spent this year’s Sundance Film Festival eating, networking, partying, and sleeping, pretty much in that order. How exactly does a wandering mulatto spend her time in Park City?

Four Mulatto Days at Sundance

Day One: Saturday, 1/19/13
Stepping into the freezing Salt Lake City air from baggage claim was brutal but I adjusted. Shuttle driver wore a face mask and said the city was, that day, experiencing the worst smog on the planet. Convinced myself this was a good sign. After arriving and unloading meager travel items (suitcase, small bag) in a shared Deer Valley condo, headed to Main Street for sushi. Met a composer, John Burrows, and a documentary filmmaker, Dori Cohen. All’s well for the traveling Mulatto.

After dinner, hung out with my pal Olen Holm (who makes an appearance, along with his naked butt, in Kill Your Darlings) and his friend Daniel at Java Cow, went to a party at Blackhouse, and stalked Roberta Munroe to chat about my latest script. She reviewed it recently. I owe her a rewrite. Although no mulatto-related conversation, had my first “notable” sighting: Omar from The Wire. Think he’ll always be known as Omar? (Sundance is, of course, filled with “stars”, mostly insignificant to me, like Pauly Shore.)

Slept in the condo living room on a cot. No heat. Colder than Siberia.

Day Two: Sunday, 1/20/13
Favorite day! Woke up early and saw, four inches away from me: a gas fireplace. Great. Figured out how it worked then went to the Queer Brunch at Grub Steak Restaurant. Had TWO mixed-folk exchanges: one with Sundance feature programmer Shari Frilot (Creole and Puerto Rican), the other with writer/director/producer Stephen Winter (Czech and Jamaican). Chatted with Stephen about his work on Tarnation. Received encouragement to do something similar with my family story. Re-introduced myself to Rose Troche, said hello to Des Buford, and the highlight: hanging with Olen and cinematographer Michelle Lawler, plus reconnecting with producer and Outfest Director of Individual Giving, Christopher Racster. Good times, great people! Briefly saw friend and Mother Country cohort Joe Stillwater, yet another halfie!

Stalked Roberta Munroe again, but missed each other (nature’s call—bathroom, food).

Went to lunch at Main Street Deli with Michelle and Fruitvale casting director Matthew Riutta before going home, cleaning up, and treating myself to dinner at Squatters Roadhouse Grill.

That night: the world premiere of 99% – The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film (recently picked up by Participant Media!). My reason for being here! Incredible. An amazing, important documentary, and standing in front of a Sundance crowd—despite my stuttering out 7 words—was unbelievable. Thanks to the directors for bringing up the crew. (I was the only mulatto in the lineup, from what I could discern.) Was approached by condo-mate Mark from Arte afterward, under whose door I managed to slip a screener of Mother Country before the end of my trip. After-gathering at Bistro 412. Slipped out on the early side.

Got back to the condo in a 5-minute, 20-buck cab ride, turned on the fireplace, found a large duvet, went to sleep.

Day Three: Monday, 1/21/13
Determined to purchase at least one Sundance ticket, stood in line for 45 minutes to get whatever movie was available for that evening. Got a ticket to O Muel’s Jiseul, which ended up winning the Grand Jury Prize for Dramatic World Cinema. Lucky mulatto!

Made it to a moving and tearful inauguration breakfast at Blackhouse (or was it just fatigue?). Afterward sat at a table with Effie T. Brown for a comedy half hour.

Back at the Filmmaker Lodge, ran into Christopher Racster again. Chilled and chatted before attending the panel on genre filmmaking featuring Roger Corman, Ben Wheatley, Eduardo Sanchez, and Jeremy Lovering. Corman made his first film for 2,000 bucks and didn’t expect to make money from it. We are what we film.

Saw Best Friends Forever at Slamdance. Michelle’s cinematography was fantastic. As for the movie itself, no comment, except I liked it best when the actors weren’t talking.

Walked over to Egyptian Theatre to watch Jiseul. Subject: 60 peasants hide in a cave to escape persecution from the South Korean military. This film is haunting, expressionistic, disturbing, and beautiful. Just like mulattoes?

Last Sundance night: Blackhouse closing party. Danced with men and women who looked mixed but the mulatto conversation goal was no longer relevant (kinda). A perfect festival.

Day Four: Tuesday, 1/22/13
Spoke briefly with someone associated with American Promise on the airport shuttle, who I suspected of being mulatto so went ahead and asked a last-ditch question: “What’s your racial background?” She’s half Irish, half German, and “gets that all the time.” Flew home to family, warmth, and contentment. Fist raised in defiance, vowed to continue stalking Roberta Munroe.

Happy Thanksgiving from Cinemulatto!

It’s been the case for some time that mulattoes are higher up the social ladder than their black counterparts. Yes, the light-skinneded ones have it all. Well, not all: we’re not as statistically impressive as white people. They still have things like beach chalets and car elevators. Regardless, mulattoes can flaunt some serious, research-based bragging rights. Can’t we?

Yes we can! We’re rich!

In honor of our hallowed place in the Land of the Privileged and in celebration of this year’s Thanksgiving, we won’t settle for showing appreciation for pedestrian things like family, friends, or life. We’re better than that. We’ve earned our place in the upwardly mobile American status quo, and we can be thankful accordingly. In fact, this year, so can you.

15 First World Things To Be Thankful For

  1. Tip calculators.
  2. Cacao has not only made it into pop culture—cacao nibs can be purchased in bulk.
  3. If you ever default on a U-Haul payment, your mid-century modern lamps will go to someone in need.
  4. Crib soother aquariums.
  5. Salvation Army will take anything, and you don’t have to tip the guy who sits there.
  6. Skinny ties never go out of style.
  7. Steroids aren’t just for adult sports teams anymore. Teenagers can use them, too.
  8. There are many online recipes for grilled cheese sandwiches.
  9. Busses will take you directly to work. (They’re called “shuttles” since “bus” isn’t First World enough.)
  10. Rear-vision cameras on cars can be used to make movies.
  11. A whole website is devoted to First World Problems, in meme format.
  12. Memes.
  13. Vegan dryer sheets.
  14. Food trucks for dogs.
  15. Happiness, liberty, and good health. Because they still exist in America.

What are you thankful for?


What the hell is a Cinemulatto?

I’m a filmmaker. I’m mixed race (Jamaican mom, Cajun dad). I like the word “mulatto” not only because it sounds like “gelato,” but because it’s exotic and sexy, not to mention vaguely Italian. The Italians brought us great movies.

I love movies and books. I have a penchant for music from the 60s (mod, freakbeat, psychedelia) but I’m game for everything from hip hop to shoegaze to anything I listened to as a kid—even John Denver.

I’m more often a philanthropist than a misanthrope.

All of the above will give you a semi-idea not only of what constitutes a “Cinemulatto”, but what you can expect from this blog. Feel free to plagiarize any of the above if you need a ready-made online dating profile.

In true mixed-race fashion, this blog will be bi-weekly. We’ll have guests. Sometimes there’ll be video.

I’m late in the game entering the blogosphere but get this—late bloomers live longer. It’s true and fact-checked. They also have higher salaries, experience more frequent bouts of inner peace, and have vibrant, acrobatic sex lives. They have softer skin, require less hair product, and look fashionable with any shoe.

Come for the company, stay for the food.  And now I present to you….


Barack Obama
My Mulatto President

I’m so relieved/ecstatic/mind-blown that this man is still president. I was having nightmares and panic attacks about Mitt Romney. The worst—Mitt comes to take away my Big Fat Gay Family. But he’s not president, nor is he Mulatto of the Month.

Despite drone attacks, increased oil production, and other very non-progressive ills, history will no doubt mark Obama as extraordinary not only for being the first African-American president (which we’ll give him for the significance, but mulattoes can be smug about the truth), but for many groundbreaking acts that are so vast in their magnitude, the public consciousness has yet to fully absorb:

  • Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
  • Taking out Osama Bin Laden
  • Passing a massive, landmark healthcare plan
  • “Coming out” in support of gay marriage
  • Ending the war in Iraq
  • Saving international American face
  • Signing legislation for equal pay for women and against hate crimes
  • Winning true victories for the American people, not just “things he did”
  • Having a decent, soulful singing voice

Obamalatto. Our president.