WCN Transmedia Group Founder caught up with Al Greeze in New York this week to discuss his new film “Frustrated” A serious look at why Black Men with means choose to travel outside of the United States for companionship with a specific focus on Brazil.
In 2006, Essence Magazine published an article called “Blame it on Rio“. written by William Jelani Cobb who spent some time in Brazil and in an interview with Ed Gordan said the following about African-American Men taking Sex Vacations to Brazil. Here is an excerpt:
Mr. WILLIAM JELANI COBB (Professor of History, Spelman College): This kind of experience of deference and being lauded and praised and, you know, seen as, you know, this desirable individual, so it’s as much psychological as it is sexual. The minute you arrive, you start hearing this cascade of compliments, and they’re specifically connected to you being a Black American man.
So there are beautiful women who are going, oh, I love black men, oh, you’re so beautiful, oh, the black men are this, the black men are that. And you realize that you don’t really hear that kind of affirmation, you know, in black America. Very often what you get is the, I love my brothers, but, you know, dot, dot, dot. There’s something else attached to it. You know, you know y’all ain’t right and so on.
Okay Fast forward to Al Greeze who read that article also traveled to Brazil and created the Documentary “Frustrated”. Here is the interview between Jay O’Conner Chairman & CEO of WCNTV and Al Greeze, Documentary Filmmaker.
Jay: Tell me about Frustrated, how you got started and what’s it all about.
Al Greeze: Frustrated is a documentary about relationships in the Black Community. We touch on sensitive topics like Education, Finance and relationships. Having been to Brazil one time prior to reading this article that was a bit bias really as the author may have spent about three days to sum up the entire Brazilian experience was not fair. Also wanting to come back to the states and share the experience with my close friends, their girlfriends began to say I was disgusting, we know what you were doing over there and I was perceived negatively by their girlfriends and significant others because of the Essense Article. I had not read the article at that time and once I did it was totally opposite of what I had experienced. It’s a beautiful place and I was looking forward to going back to the country and the article did not go into any of the underlying reasons why men go to Brazil . It gave an effect with no cause. So I wanted to give a balance to the story and decided to create a documentary by discussing the topic openly. I began interviewing Black men about the experience to get down to the root of the matter. And that is how the concept came about to do this film.
Jay: What would you like to see happen as a result of your film?
Al Greeze: I would like to see dialog take place in our own communities. Stop letting the media and magazines to define us and tell us what is wrong with us. We should look at each other sit down as Black Men and Women have a rational discussion about our problems. So we can solve our own issues rather than relying on TV and Radio shows Like Oprah, which are geared more for women than men.
Jay: What type of response to you feel you will get from Black Women about your Film?
Al: I conduced a viewing in Washington DC and was really not prepared for what happened. We provided space for food, drink and dialog after the film and to my surprise actual discussion took place and Women and Men began to give each other true feedback about Brazil for more than 3 hours after the film was over.
Jay: What else would you like to see happen to facilitate discussion.
Al: I want to encourage black people to travel and see for themselves. Go outside the boarders Especially in Latin America where the most important thing is the family unit. Not just immediate family but extended family bringing everyone involved in the fabric of life. Most of us don’t even know our neighbors who live around us. I recommend that people get outside their borders. The most important thing is the sense of family I found in Brazil. I can remember growing up as I am one of 7 kids and I can remember when if we didn’t have something we could always go borrow a cup of sugar or whatever you needed that day and they could come the next day and do the same at your house. Today we don’t even know or want to know our neighbors it seems. We are doing better financially but as a society we are doing worse. So I want to encourage brother to go outside the borders of the United States and experience other cultures. Make your own comparisons rather than relying on media accounts.
Jay: Al Brazil has been characterized as a Black Man’s Sexual Disneyland. Is that True?
Al: I really think that is unfair to lump every Black Man in that category. Now there are some men who are there to be irresponsible, but that is not the case in all cases. Brazilian Women have a great respect for Men and because if you are traveling man you are treated with a respect that you are not getting from Black Women in America. Men sit on the top of the charts in Brazil. And Black men are not the only men that feel this way or come to Brazil, there are European men and White men from America others from all cultures, not just black men. But let’s be real, if you are treated and respected it is very appealing. It’s not just a Sexual Paradise for Black men and I don’t like that term. Brazil economically is on the uprise and with the amount of economic development going in preparation for the Olympics Brazil is on the rise. It is expected to be the 5th largest growing economy in the next 10 to 15 years.
Jay: So here is my final question: Given the economic potential in Brazil, the Essense Article and now your Film. What would my significant other tell me after reading the article and watching your film.
Al: Well if she watches the film she will pack you off and tell you go make that money and I will be here when you get back. If she only reads the Essense article then she would say Hell No I don’t care how much money is on the table you ain’t going. And if you go I won’t be here when you get back.
Jay: Do Al, What is the bottom line on Brazil and your movie if you are a Frustrated Black Man with means?
Al; I recommend Brazil but not just for the women and prostitution. You would be missing out on a great deal of history and culture. If you want to be irresponsible you do not have to travel 5000 miles to do so. So those that do to Wild Out are missing the boat. There is so much more to our African roots, history, culture and now business opportunities that will make Brazil a great place to do business.
Jay: Al, I look forward to seeing the film and while I find a lot of commentary about the Essense Article it does not seem to be available. If someone has a copy please send it over as the topic is as relevant today as it was when it was written back in 2006.
Documentary Film Maker
A chance meeting with a screenwriter in Alaska set Al Greeze on a path to produce films that would question, test and expose controversial topics, desires and issues that are not often talked about by society or within communities. The goal of an Al Greeze film is to invite open and honest dialogues amongst each other to strengthen the family and uplift communities.
Born in the Bronx, NY, Greeze and his four brothers and two sisters were raised in a two parent home and have always believed that the family is the center of everything.
An adventurous spirit coupled with a mischievous charm, Greeze found many ways to exercise his curiosity in the concrete jungle of NYC and also found ways to get into trouble and sent to live with relatives in Amherst, NY, a suburb of Buffalo. But Greeze always found the humor in every situation and maintained a close connection and respect for his family and his community.
With college and a stint at the U.S. Post Office behind him, Greeze’s desire to travel and see the world, to learn about different cultures, family units and relationships quickly turned into a reality. Greeze has traveled to Anchorage, Alaska, Brazil, Mexico, the Virgin Islands and a trip to Europe is in the works. Greeze has also lived in Alaska and Atlanta, just to mix things up a little. “I would encourage everyone to get a passport and step outside your comfort zone and see what the world has to offer, the beauty, the languages, the food, to be able to see other countries and meet other nationalities is mind-boggling”, says Greeze.
After deciding that film making was the perfect avenue to satisfy his innate curiosity about the world around him and his desire to make films that can change the way we see the world and ourselves, Greeze attended the Hollywood Film Institute and found inspiration in film director Spike Lee and actors Jack Nicholson and Denzel Washington.
Greeze’s first full length documentary, “Frustrated” is both controversial and educational. The film gives an opportunity to dispel rumors and hearsay based on an Essence Magazine article about African-American men traveling to Brazil for relationships and tell the true reasons from the men themselves.
Greeze explains, “My goal as a film maker is to make quality films that have a positive impact on society and to not be afraid to spotlight what may be questionable behavior, beliefs or actions so that we can address them and make our world what we want it to be.”
Currently in preproduction, Greeze’s next film is also geared to educate and strengthen relationships and the family unit. “The Total Cost of Saying I Do”, examines the economics of marriage, divorce, singles and the effect financing has on society in the United States and the considerable value that couples place on each other’s welfare and the conflict of interest between them.
The film will also examine other forms of marriage including polygynous and polyandrous outside of the United States, the rate of their success and the economics of these of marriages. Greeze is the kind of man who believes in his convictions and has always spoke out for or against what he believes in.
He believes in strength of body (he works out five (5) days a week), mind, family and community and through his films and the topics he chooses this is evident.