Dir. Wendall B. Harris, 1989
94 minutes, English
Crown Heights Film Collective presents an obscure, unheralded, underseen film, featuring discussion with Marcus Pinn of PinnlandEmpire.com and Zebras in America and Carlo Pangalangan Labrador. Tickets $8.
"There's cult status and then there's obscurity. Wendall B Harris' award winning film Chameleon Street - the amazing true story about Detroit conman William Douglass Street - seems to teeter between both categories. On one hand, the movie maintains its cult status through screenings at arthouse & independent theaters all over the world. In the last year alone, the Brooklyn Academy of Music has single handily kept this movie alive in New York City. The film is also very popular among the non-fickle, non-tyler perry black film community as well. Chameleon Street also gained a newer, younger audience ("the hip-hop generation") due to Blackstar (mos def & talib kweli) sampling a famous scene from the film on their debut album. But Chameleon Street is slowly slipping in to obscurity as the DVD is now out of print (but there are some used DVD's in circulation). And what makes the film's legacy even more obscure is that Wendall B. Harris has yet to direct another film thus making him more "irrelevant" & less "fresh" in the world of cinema. It's very suspect that a Black director who wins the jury prize at Sundance never had the opportunity to make another film in over 20 years. Were his ideas too unconventional & challenging? Was his attitude too independent? Has he been blacklisted by the movie industry?" - Marcus Pinn