Emma Mae | Chicago Reader

Emma Mae

Released on video as Black Sister's Revenge ("Mess with her man and she'll bust your face"), this 1976 drama is no blaxploitation flick but a serious-minded drama from Jamaa Fanaka, among the so-called "L.A. Rebellion" of resolutely Afro-centric indie filmmakers that came out of UCLA. Jerri Hayes outclasses most of the other actors as Emma, a sweet, naive, but formidably tough young woman from New Orleans who moves to Los Angeles to live with relatives; sucked into the party life in Compton, she attaches herself to a smooth-talking loser who begins pulling her down. The lively opening scene, in a public park alive with bongos, flute, B-ball, and harmony singing, is typical of Fanaka's eye for local color, and the sad, distinctly feminist denouement sets the movie apart from the "urban" product of the day.

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