Exclusive: Catching Up With Director Matty Rich During MoMA’s Black Intimacy Series

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Exclusive: Catching Up With Director Matty Rich During MoMA’s Black Intimacy Series
Posted by Wilson Morales

October 6, 2017

Playing today as part of Museum of Modern Art’s (MoMA) BLACK INTIMACY series are two of director Matty Rich‘s film, Straight Out of Brooklyn and The Inkwell.

The series, which has 16 films, two shorts, and a television episode, highlights the various ways in which love and relationships are colored by the political, across a wide spectrum of perspectives.

For Rich, it’s a chance for audience to connect with a filmmaker who was part of the new wave of filmmakers in the early when it was Spike Lee, John Singleton, Robert Townsend, Bill Duke, Mario Van Peebles, and Reginald Hudlin. Although those filmmakers went on and continue to work in the film business, Rich did only these two features and ventured off to different areas. From video games to other things, he grew as an artist of many things and now is planning a comeback to the film world.

‘Straight Out Of Brooklyn’ was the story of Dennis (played by Larry Gilliard Jr.), a black teen living in a housing project with his sister, mother and abusive, alcoholic father. Tired of his household drama and his future looking bleak if he stayed in that environment, he plans with his friends, Larry (Matty Rich) and Kevin (Mark Malone) to rob a drug dealer and leave the neighborhood for a better life.

‘The Inkwell,’ which starred  Larenz Tate, Joe Morton, Glynn Turman, Morris Chestnut and Jada Pinkett Smith, took a nostalgic look at family vacations follows Drew (Tate) as he spends the summer with his parents in Martha’s Vineyard.

When did you get the call that MoMA wanted to showcase two of your films in the selection?

Matty Rich: They had reached out to my agent and told him that they were doing a black intimacy film exposition and the first thing I thought was, “How cool is this to do an exposition to talk about black love?” Basically, Matty Rich films. That’s how I began my films. “Straight Outta Brooklyn” was the highlight – an African American family living in a housing projects that I grew up in. I wanted to create a story which focused on the black struggle. But within the black struggle, there is love. The film was about this kid watching his father beat up on his mother and he felt frustrated because he felt that society didn’t give him the opportunity because they were poor. The father took out his abuse out on his wife and his son was overhearing his frustration and he thought that robbing a drug dealer would be a way to give his family some peace. He wanted to use the money to go straight out of Brooklyn, which we know that this is the wring way out of any situation. I wanted to show a family dynamic even with all of that chaos and pain that there was a love that his father had with a wife. Even though she was abused, she stayed within that family because she knew that there was some good in that man before the pain.

As a young filmmaker, I wanted to create that image and give people who aren’t used to living in urban areas with crime and really what it takes to get up out of any situation is education and faith in God. When I got the call that thy not only wanted to screen Straight Outta Brooklyn but The Inkwell and they are very different movies. The Inkwell is the total opposite. It’s about an African American family who are well off. They go to Martha’s Vineyard where African Americans like President Obama and many other well known figures, still to this day, go to Martha’s Vineyard and the Inkwell to spend their summers. In The Inkwell, you see a family who has the same issues like any other family. They have struggles just like any other family but even with them being very different, there are some who believe in democratic issues and some who believe in republican issue. But they are family, and that’s what I love about this series. I’m super excited to be a part of it because with my two films you see family life, relationships, the betrayal of African American men and women and how strong they are in matriarch in our community. At the same time, you are entertained. The Inkwell is still loved to this day and people loved Straight Outta Brooklyn because you showed the struggle of African American life. Both of those film have a theme that I take pride in as a filmmaker. It is love, it is family and that’s why I’m super excited to participate.

Those were the only feature films you did. What happened after that?

Matty Rich: My career is more like an art. It started with these two films and then I came to Hollywood and developed a lot of projects and wrote a lot of projects and then I had the opportunity to meet Yves Guillemot, the chairperson and one of the founders of UbiSoft, the video game company. He offered me the opportunity to use my artistry and I moved to Paris, France and I took over a street racing game. It was the first time I ever produced an entire game. It was another piece of art that I had to learn. I ran the team in Paris, France and also one in Hong Kong and one in Seoul Korea. It’s very similar to writing and directing and after that 187 Ride or Die came out. Now, I’m preparing to get back in front of the camera and do a new project. This is something I wrote and it’s another family story. I’m ready to go back and do some more live action stories and I’m excited about that.

I hadn’t gone anywhere. I had just ventured other to different things and now it’s calling me back to some more live action films and projects in television. I’m so happy where black films have gone from when I started as a young teenager to where we are now. There’s so much artistry in films and television and me being a part of that movement, I take pride of being part of that experience.

For those who haven’t seen any of your films, what’s a good reason to do so?

Matty Rich: They should see both of them, because it’s a reflection of their life; whatever color they may be. You will see your family or someone you know in your family in both of these movies. In Straight Outta Brooklyn, you may know of someone who has gone through that experience. You will be entertained but you will also see a glimpse of the revolution of African American filmmaking in the 90s, which helped out where we are today.

The Inkwell trailer

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