Larry Elder often lets filmmakers interview him at his radio studio, but the syndicated talker rarely sees the results.
Well-intentioned filmmakers get distracted or come up short on the funding front, Elder explains.
Director Justin Malone, eager to capture what it’s like to be a black conservative in America, was different. Malone shared his footage with the best-selling author and talk show host.
“It was beautifully shot in black and white. I liked the angles,” Elder recalls. So he asked Malone how far along he was on the project. If this were a baseball game, Malone explained, he’d be in the top half of the first inning.
That didn’t scare Elder. He offered to help raise funds for the documentary. Two years later, “Uncle Tom” is available for rental at UncleTom.com and has made back its modest budget and then some, says Elder, who co-wrote and produced the film.
“Uncle Tom” showcases the abuse black conservatives like Elder receive from the Left, something the L.A. native begrudgingly accepts as part of modern culture.
“I’ve been called an Uncle Tom for 35 years,” Elder says. Malone asked him the critical question on the subject.
Why? Why can’t liberals have an open discussion with black conservatives? Why does common sense scare them? Why slam black conservatives as “coons,” or worse?
“The more he said, ‘why,’ the more I thought, ‘this is pretty asinine’ … that was the tone of the whole documentary,” says Elder, whose self-titled radio show can be heard from noon to 2 p.m. PT weekdays on CRN with a rebroadcast from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. on KRLA AM 870 in Los Angeles.
“Uncle Tom” features familiar faces like Herman Cain, Candace Owens, and Lt. Col. Allen West sharing why they believe in smaller government and more freedom. The film also interviews blue-collar black conservatives who favor the American dream over “handouts.”
That describes Chad Jackson, a contractor from Texas featured in the film. He was a lifelong Democrat who had a change of heart after reading the specific platforms of both political parties.
You may not know much about “Uncle Tom,” though, if you only read mainstream U.S. media outlets. Elder says he’s been interviewed by reporters from Sweden, Australia, and England about the film.
The response stateside? Mostly crickets save select conservative outlets. Newsweek ran a piece on the film prior to its June 19 release, Elder notes. A conservative pundit covered it for the Chicago Tribune.
Elder can’t hide his disgust that the L.A. Times, his hometown paper, ignored the film, too. It’s part of a noticeable pattern.
“Not a single one of my books has been reviewed by the L.A. Times,” he says. “I’m a hometown boy and I can’t get arrested by the L.A. Times.”
So how could a film with little media coverage or film critic interest recoup its costs so quickly? The film’s talking heads, from Elder to Owens and Brandon Tatum, spread the word via their sizable social media accounts.
The film’s audience did its share, too. “Uncle Tom” has more than 2,000 reviews at imdb.com, most of them raves. The film’s overall rating stands at 9.4 out of 10.
Even liberals are giving the movie a chance, Elder says. Some say they were “suckered” into watching the documentary. No matter the explanation, the results are similar.
“I had no idea the grief that people like Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams get for having a different point of view,” he says.
Here’s one dramatic example from IMDB.com:
As a young black male who was psychologically entrenched in the “liberal sunken place” throughout his formative years, this documentary was the finalization of my red pill moment.
Uncle Tom provides all Americans a holistic understanding of when, how, and why Democratic policies have damned black America since the 60’s bringing a nuanced perspective to the issues plaguing black Americans today.
Uncle Tom is a must see documentary!
It wouldn’t be the first time Elder changed some hearts and minds. His long-running radio show likely does that on a regular basis. He also famously coaxed author and YouTube star Dave Rubin to leave the progressive movement following their famous dustup on race relations, captured in Rubin’s “Don’t Burn This Book.”
“Uncle Tom” isn’t Elder’s first foray into filmmaking. He previously wrote and directed 2005’s “Michael & Me,” an attempt to correct far-left auteur Michael Moore’s Oscar-winning film, “Bowling for Columbine.”
“I had no idea what I was doing. It’s a mediocre project at best,” he says. “‘Uncle Tom’ is light years better than that.”
“Uncle Tom’s” success has Elder thinking about a sequel among other possible film projects. And he’s not alone. He says other conservatives are getting into the film business – witness recent triumphs like “No Safe Spaces,” powered by talkers Adam Carolla and Dennis Prager.
“If we don’t make our own fare it’s not gonna be made,” Elder says, adding actor Antonio Sabato, Jr.’s experience with the Hollywood Blacklist 2.0 reflects a growing body of frustrated conservative talent.
Dinesh D’Souza, the author and conservative pundit, considers himself a full-time filmmaker now, Elder notes, following films like “Hillary’s America” and the upcoming “Trump Card.”
“I think he’s on to something. It is that profound a medium,” Elder says.
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