Director Darryl Pitts Looks Closely at Black Romance and Hollywood

Filmmaker Darryl Pitts

There is an old saying in Hollywood circles that goes, “Films will make you famous, TV will make you rich.” Television and film director and native Chicagoan Darryl Pitts opted for the former. Having spent 17 years in the entertainment business, Pitts’s 71-minute documentary, Kiss and Tell explores the multifaceted subject of romance and the role African Americans have played. –tony binns

This documentary covers black romance from 1970 forward. Why that particular era?

We don’t just examine the 1970s. I would say the film starts at the 1960s, but we also have  a follow-up historic piece that will come out sometime next year that goes back to the very beginning of Hollywood itself. What I wanted to see was where our images have been and how those images influenced people. When you look at a film from the 1960s for example like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and the impact it had on not just black culture, but American culture, or the importance of Sidney Poitier that makes that period extremely relevant. When you get to the 1970s, which is in many ways the “Golden Era” of black cinema, we get to see a wide variety of films and stories, for the first time, including some pretty great black love stories. I think that’s why the ’70s is so important, it’s called “blaxploitation,” but so much more came from that period. The film goes from there up to today so we get to see films like Love Jones and The Best Man.

What was the most interesting part about doing the documentary?

The stories. I heard fascinating stories. Stanley Kramer’s wife, the guy that directed, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, tells a story about how Stanley Kramer sold that film to Columbia based on the fact that it was a love story between Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. And to hear artists like Nia (Long), and Keenan (Wayans) talk about romance in movies is an interesting perspective from people we don’t normally get to hear. We even have world-renowned film critic Roger Ebert in the film.

Kiss and Tell premiered at the 17th annual Black Harvest Film Festival.

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