Aug 26 - With releases like ''Lee Daniels' The Butler,'' ''Fruitvale Station'' and the upcoming ''12 Years a Slave,'' black and African-American civil rights films are front and center in Hollywood. Roselle Chen reports.
Race in America has been a hot topic of debate this summer and Hollywood, as if on cue, has muscled its way into the conversation. This year is shaping up to be a big one in film for African American, black and civil rights themes, offering audiences different lenses to consider the complex question of racial equality, both in the present day and historically. They include civil rights drama "Lee Daniels' The Butler," which has led the box office for the past two weekends, and Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave," the true story of free man who is enslaved, which premieres in October. Already in 2013, audiences and critics alike have embraced "42" about Jackie Robinson, the first black man to play Major League Baseball after 50 years of segregation, and "Fruitvale Station," the real-life story of Oscar Grant, a young unarmed black man killed by white police in Oakland four years ago. The slate also includes two biopics on South African leaders: Nelson Mandela in "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," due for release in November, and "Winnie Mandela," his former wife, out in September. Their release comes against the backdrop of the biggest discussion on race in the United States in years: the trial in the killing of unarmed African American teenager Trayvon Martin and President Barack Obama's explanation in highly personal terms of what it means to be a young black man in America.