The media blitz for Chris Rock's upcoming docu-comedy Good Hair has been relentless. In the past week and a half he's been on Oprah, Jay Leno, and even Mo'Nique's new show. Not to mention countless mentions online and in print media. According to plan, Good Hair will be opening in selected theaters this weekend...but not if Regina Kimbell has her way.
The filmmaker is suing Chris Rock and several film companies for $5 million, and doing her best to block the release of his heavily hyped film. Kimbell claims that she screened her film My Nappy Roots for Rock in 2007. According to Courthouse News, Kimball claims that Rock refused to sign a nondisclosure afgreement, admitted that he was working on a film for HBO about black hair but "didn't know what to do," and pointed at the screen and yelled "we have to go to India!" during a key point in Kimball's film, which revealed the extent of the hair export business from India.
Well that doesn't sound good for Chris Rock, now does it? This will play out in the courtroom, and for the record Rock has already issued a response.
Regina Kimball might have a case here, but she isn't alone in the black hair documentary biz. Here are some others that you should be aware of.
Both Chris Rock and Regina Kimball's films reveal the source of hair weaves and include scenes filmed at the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple (or Temple of the Seven Hills) in India. So does Whose Hair Is It, Anyway? a documentary filmed by the BBC that stars British pop singer Jamelia. (I wrote about that right here back in August).
In 2006 I became aware of a documentarian named Aron Ranen, whose film -- Black Hair -- exposed the iron clad control over the black hair industry in America by Korean business owners. If you've never seen Ranen's documentary, you really should. It's an eye opener.
Ranen's documentary is broken down into segments on YouTube, and available for sale on DVD via his website BlackHairDVD.com.
2008 saw the release of Afro-Saxons, Rachel Wang and Mark Currie's documentary that traces the journey of four hairstylists competing against each other in the Black Beauty Hair Awards in London. From all accounts, this is a hilarious and heartwarming film that's worth seeing.
The previously made documentaries about black hair may not have had the financial investment or garnered the attention of Chris Rock's film, but the fact that there are so many explorations of the same topic proves a basic point -- black hair remains a hot topic in the community, and there are issues that go beyond styling techniques. It'll be interesting to see how Chris Rock and Regina Kimbell's lawsuit plays out. Either way, the interest in black hair isn't going anywhere.