Black is King feels like something new. As a longtime fan, it feels like a transcendental step in Beyoncé’s career. From her early albums and early acting projects, to “Beychella”, Lemonade, and now Black is King, Beyoncé has continuously stepped more into herself, more into her own creativity and vision in a way that shows her growth, the growth of her fans, and Black pride overall. She steeps herself and her art in Black culture. She has always been a standout, an idol, for many in the Black community.
I wanted to use For My Culture 1 this month to highlight these works, not only because they deserve it- they are amazing works of art- but because I want to support Black women. I want their films to be a part of our discourse, our top 10 lists, our reviews, and daily conversations. These are all films directed by Black women that you can stream RIGHT NOW. The future of the film industry is slowly looking brighter when it comes to opening up diversity and opportunities for Black women, as well as other minorities, but the progress is too slow. We have to do our part with support and recognition, and I for one am more than happy to do so. Watching these films over the past few years and weeks was a blast for me. They are strong pieces. They evoked so much emotion, made me laugh, and filled me in places I didn’t know were empty. I hope you all enjoy this list as much as I did!
Starring Nicole Beharie, Alexis Chikaeze, and Kendrick Sampson, Miss Juneteenth is a generational story of Black motherhood and womanhood. It is also a film about liberation in one of its most intimate forms. Turquoise “Turq” Jones (played by Beharie) is a dedicated mother who is preparing her daughter, Kai (Chikaeze), for the Miss Juneteenth pageant- a pageant that she won back in her own time. The film follows them through this journey, but it is also follows Turq through her own.
Atlantics (2019) was first released at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival when it competed for the Palme d’Or. The films director and co-writer, Mati Diop, made history when she became the first black woman who directed a film featured in the competition- also winning the Grand Prix award for it. After its release at Cannes and later in Senegal, the film was picked up and released on Netflix for wide viewing.
Jezebel (2019) is a semi-autobiographical, coming-of-age film written and directed by Numa Perrier. The story follows 19 year old Tiffany (Tenille) through the struggles of growing up and losing her mother, while she also finds work as a cam-girl.
You know the story, from Louisa M. Alcott, that has been re-adapted again and again for television and film. Little Women is a story that follows four sisters- Amy, Jo, Beth, and Meg March- through Civil War-era America and their paths to womanhood. You may think, what does a story about 19th century women have that can relate to 21st century women? Well, that’s where Greta Gerwig (writer/director of Lady Bird (2018)) comes in- to bridge that gap between two centuries of ‘little women,’ growing up in two vastly different times. And in this way, I believe Gerwig and the cast of Little Women succeed while still solidifying and celebrating the beauty of the source material.
Honey Boy (2019) is the autobiographical screenplay written by Shia LaBeouf and directed by Alma Har’el. It’s the story of a young boy named Otis (played by Noah Jupe) as he finds himself in the spotlight of the acting world while also dealing with the turmoil and abusive relationship with his father James (played by LaBeouf himself.)
Audiences were first introduced to the live-action ‘Harley Quinn’ in 2016, when Suicide Squad hit theaters. Margot Robbie played Quinn brilliantly. With her ability to hit those comedic notes perfectly and execute those action sequences with animation and badass-ness, Robbie made the role of ‘Harley Quinn’ hers, just like Bale did with ‘Batman’ and Downey Jr. did with ‘Iron Man.’