From the beginning of its first trailer, Justin Simien's Dear White People takes its satirical target head-on. "Dear white people: the minimum requirement of black friends needed to not seem racist has just been raised to two. Sorry, but your weed man Tyrone does not count," says a college radio DJ played by Tessa Thompson. "Dear white people: please stop touching my hair. Does this look like a petting zoo to you?"
Thompson's fiery broadcast sparks a campus-wide debate between black students and white students alike over the state of modern American race relations — and the issues are much thornier and more complex than most are eager to acknowledge.
Fortunately, Dear White People seems primed to kick-start a similar cultural discussion. It was a major hit with critics when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, and the rest of America will get the chance to check it out when it hits theaters on October 17. --Scott Meslow