PARK CITY, Utah (Reuters) - Chris Rock makes people laugh with his looks behind U.S. race relations, culture and politics, but he was stumped for an answer when his young daughter Lola asked: "how come I don't have good hair?".
So Rock set out to learn, and the result is his film documentary "Good Hair," which takes audiences deep inside the multi-billion dollar business of hair care products. What emerges is an often funny, yet serious take on the culture of black Americans and their hair.
The documentary premiered this week at the Sundance Film Festival, the top gathering for U.S. independent movies, where Rock spoke to Reuters about exactly what makes "Good Hair."
Q: How did this documentary come about?
A: "My daughter and my friend's daughters all have these hair issues, and it just made me want to do a movie about hair. I knew about the Bonner Brothers hair competition (in Atlanta) for a long time and I kind of wanted to do a movie about that. But between my daughter and the Bonner Brothers hair show, it just evolved into something bigger and stronger."
Q: How old was your daughter when she told you she didn't like her hair?
A: "She was about five. Kids say all sorts of things that you don't know where you got it from. I'm the dad and I'm basically her assistant, and any time she's not pleased with anything I have to react. So I made a movie for my baby."
Q: What did you learn by making the film?
A: "I had no idea of the business of hair. I had no idea that it was as organized as Apple or Microsoft or General Motors. I had no idea the chemicals could be scary and damaging."
Q: So, then what defines "good hair?"
A: "It's whatever hair you are comfortable with. If I had made this movie 12-15 years ago, I would have been very judgmental, but now whatever a woman likes, whatever makes you happy, makes you feel sexy and powerful and all those things, that's good hair."
Q: What do you want people to take away from the film?
A: "There's no agenda. Hopefully I shine a light on a world that people don't know about."
Q: Do you want to make more documentaries?
A: "I'm trying to find an idea. It's not like a movie. When you have an idea for a documentary it's almost like having an idea for the James Bond series, you need to have an idea that can sustain 100 hours of footage, that you're going to cut into 100 minutes."
Q: What's new for you in 2009?
A: "I think I'm doing a movie with Adam Sandler and other than that I am reading scripts. I am interesting in directing again."
Q: Finally, how do you think the entertainment industry will cope with the financial crisis?
A: "People have to get out of the house ultimately, so movies will survive no matter what. No matter how good your DVD at home is, you got to leave the house. People have to date, you need somewhere to take her and a movie is pretty much cheaper than everything else. I think it will be fine."
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Patricia Reaney