On Thursday, Nov 7th "Dear White People" celebrated five years since the film's theatrical release with a free community screening at Los Angeles's Downtown Independent theatre.
Prior to the screening, writer/director Angel Kristi Williams moderated a panel with writer/director Justin Simien and cast members Brandon Bell, Ashley Blaine Featherson, Jemar Michael, Marque Richardson, and Courtney Sauls.
No topic was left untouched as cast members dished about the wild process of making the film, as well as the hurdles Simien faced in writing and directing his debut feature.
"I didn't really know how to write a multi-protagonist script, I certainly had no idea how to get a movie made," Simien said. "It was that script that I just always worked on at night ... I just got to a place where if it takes me forty years to make this movie, that forty-first year I'm going to get to live my dream. So, this is a by-hook-or-by-crook thing. I've got to get his movie made."
Simien went on to win the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, received distribution through Roadside Attractions, and eventually developed "Dear White People" into a television series through Lionsgate with global distribution from Netflix. The series will celebrate its fourth and final season next year.
The screening is the first public-facing event from Culture Machine, Simien's production company with many more events planned for 2020.