The Strays

The Strays (2023)

The Strays first published (in a substantially shorter version) by Little White Lies, 21 Feb 2023 “I shouldn’t be where I am now. I want more, is it wrong to want more?” So says Cheryl Blake (Ashley Madekwe) at the beginning of writer/director Nathaniel Martello-White’s feature debut The Strays. Alone in her apartment on a…

Trinket Box

Trinket Box (2023)

Patrycja Kepa and Acoryé White’s debut feature opens with two prologues, one short, one long – and both connected by the old trinket box of the title. In the first, a figure in white gloves and baseball cap thoroughly cleans out a house (decorated with photographs of a mixed-race couple) and carefully restores a discarded…

Only When I Dance

Only When I Dance (2009)

Only When I Dance first published by S&S, Feb 2010 Review: As 17-year-old Irlan Santos da Silva stretches into a perfect arabesque on a rooftop, the camera circles to set the teenager both in and above his background – namely the vast favela of Complexo do Alemão in the northern zone of Rio de Janeiro, dubbed…

Nosepicker

Nosepicker (2023)

“If we can be brave enough to put our finger on what’s uncomfortable in our lives,” says school counsellor Mr Hopkins (Mark Garfield) in writer/director Ian Mantgani’s short film Nosepicker, “we can start to shed our uncomfortable skins, and move past them into a new phase. Become more of who we are supposed to be.”…

Brut Force

Brut Force (2022)

With a bruised fist that just lost her her job at Inside L.A. Magazine, cub journalist Sloan Sawyer (Lelia Symington) finds herself temporarily unemployed, so agrees, when summoned by a phone call, to return to her home town of Santa Lucia in California’s wine-growing hinterlands. There, someone has been intimidating the migrant workers at the…

Good Madam

Good Madam (Mlungu Wam) (2021)

Good Madam (Mlungu Wam) had its UK première at Glasgow Film Festival 2022  “So we should just pretend not to be here even though we are?”, says young Winnie (Kamvalethu Jonas Reziya) to her mother Tsidi (Chumisa Cosa) in Jenna Cato Bass’s Good Madam (Mlungu Wam), summarising the rules of their new home. After the…

Toy Terminator

Toy Terminator (2021)

The doll’s house is the arena where (typically) little white girls play out, or occasionally resist, the model of life that they have inherited from their family and culture, in an idealised, plastic parody of patriarchy. The Toy Terminator opens with an image of a doll’s house – a cottage (that is clearly a model)…

Marathon

Marathon (2021)

According to legend, in 490 B.C.E. a messenger ran without stopping from Marathon to Athens to report as quickly as possible the improbable victory of the Athenian army against the overwhelming numbers of an invading Persian force, and dropped dead after giving the news to the Assembly. This 26-and-a-half-mile dash would become the model for…

Shorta

Shorta (2020)

“I can’t breathe,” 19-year-old Talib Ben Hassi (Jack Pedersen) shouts repeatedly, as police officers hold him down in a cell. With those three words right at the beginning of Shorta, writer/directors’ Frederik Louis Hviid and Anders Ølholm evoke the phrase used by Eric Garner and many other African-Americans before they died at the hands of…

Spiral

Spiral (2019)

Spiral first published by SciFiNow In 1995, Malik (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman) and his husband Aaron (Ari Cohen) move with Aaron’s teenaged daughter Kayla (Jennifer Laporte) into the small town of Rusty Creek, far from their old home in Chicago. Both men are very much in love and entirely open about being gay, but stay-at-home freelance ghostwriter…

Blue

Black and Blue (2019)

Black and Blue first published by Sight & Sound, December 2019 Review: Deon Taylor’s Black and Blue begins with a black woman in a hoodie jogging along the street. A police car pulls her over, its front tyre splashing her with water from a puddle. Two aggressive white male officers get out, one pushing her…