Shandell Maxwell was already planning to make a documentary short film on the black experience in Orange County when a friend handed her a copy of this infernal rag's special issue “Where the Black People At?” back in late May.
The provocative title made her heart race. “I wanted to say, 'Hey I'm right here and I want to share my story!,'” the African-American resident who makes her home near SanTana tells the Weekly. “After reading the article, I knew it was time to move forward and make the film with the help of my community.”
The forthcoming documentary short Black Behind the Orange Curtain was spurred on by a need to spread social awareness in OC about a community that comprises 2.1% its population yet always is targeted for hate crimes more than any other group year after year. For Maxwell, the process begins with simply sharing stories.
“Believe it or not, I have met a lot of people who think that discrimination and social injustices do not exist anymore,” she says. “These people are definitely living blindly behind the 'Orange Curtain' and it's sad.”
As the teaser trailer lets on, Black Behind the Orange Curtain will center around experiences in the realm of education, politics, business, and community. Featured interviews include familiar faces from our cover story such as Kala Lacy, co-chair of the Black Student Union at the University of California, Irvine and Pierre Dotson, owner of A-Unique Barbershop in Anaheim. Maxwell will be sharing her own stories as well, having graduated from high school in West Anaheim and describing life in OC as a black woman as being both “rewarding and unsettling.”
The documentary short will also feature a discussion of racially diverse residents that underscores a key aspect of its goal. “The main takeaway of the film is the notion that what affects one, affects us all,” says Maxwell. “One of the interviewees is Pakistani and she talked about her experience being racially profiled after the 9/11 attacks and how her family were basically treated as outcasts in Mission Viejo.”
The original release date for Black Behind the Orange Curtain was slated for February during Black History Month, but all the interviews have been completed and the project is ahead of schedule. The first-time filmmaker will make it available online sometime in the Fall, if all goes according to plan.
“I think sharing our stories can help bridge gaps in misconceptions and promote unity within our communities,” Maxwell says. “The film will be simple yet powerful and will leave you thinking about all the other stories hiding behind the Orange Curtain.”
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @dpalabraz