by Maya Renee Castro
I wanted to include an editors’ pick so y’all, our beautiful viewers, can get to know us, your amazing editors. I also wanted to showcase our TV/Film/Theater picks because although it may feel like all you see are white stories or stories of the oppressor, our stories have been here for a while and are extremely diverse and expand over all genres. There is not one specific way to tell our stories and we deserve to be seen and heard. So here is a list of TV/Film/Theater made by beautiful BIPOC/multicultural/multiethnic artists to expand your mind, start a conversation, or even spark something in your soul. Each editor’s pick will be focused around a specific theme, this months theme is representation.
Maya Renee Castro (TV/Film/Theater Editor)
Film: The Watermelon Woman Dir. Cheryl Dune (1996)
Where to watch: The Criterion Channel
This pick goes out to all my sapphic sisters!
The Watermelon Woman is a classic 90s indie film. Written, directed and starring, the incredible, Cheryl Dune, a Black lesbian filmmaker. Cheryl plays a character named Cheryl (loosely based on herself) who works at a video store with her friend Tamara in Philadelphia and is trying to become a filmmaker. She decides to do a documentary on a young Black actress from the 40s called “the watermelon woman”. In this film inside of the film she explores the true identity and sexualitly of “the watermelon woman”, while also coming to terms with her own personal relationships and idea of herself.
This film was the first directed by a Black lesbian and considered a landmark in new queer cinema. What I love most of all is that her film focuses on Black women and Black Lesbians/lesbians in general, showing us the voices we rarely get to see in main roles or even in films. This film is a funny, well done exploration of race and sexuality, that makes me feel extremely warm and happy. Thanks to Cheryl Dune, we have a yummy overload of lesbian love made for us by us!
Carolina Meurkens (Editor-in-Chief)
Film: Black Orpheus Dir. Marcel Camus (1959)
Where to watch: The Criterion Channel or Amazon Prime Video
Originally adapted from Orfeu da Conceição by Vinicius de Moraes, Black Orpheus is a retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, set in the mountains of Rio de Janeiro during Carnival time. The Black Brazilian cast tells the love story of Orpheus and Eurydice through samba rhythms and manifestations of Afro-Brazilian Diasporic culture. Original music was written for the film by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, the duo that dominated the international Bossa Nova craze, setting Brazil on the map musically and culturally. This film is a must see to understand Black culture in Brazil, the power in its magical beauty, but also how it can be idealized. The film portrays Afro-descendant Brazilians who arrived in Rio to work on the trading docks, settled on the hilltops and created communities like the one portrayed in the film. While the film paints an idyllic portrait of the Favelas, to me, it shows us where the resilience of forgotten urban communities comes from and the beauty that exists within them.
Film: La Haine Dir. Matthieu Kassovitz (1995)
Where to Watch: The Criterion Channel or youtube…shhh
This film has everything I love: the French, sexy men, and exposing the system. 😤 This film is centered around three friends, an Arab, an African, and a Jewish man, who give faces to France’s immigrant population. The three friends battle with never ending police brutality, class struggles, and challenge the notion of what it takes to escape their lives in the low income outskirts of Paris. This film gave voice to those in marginalized communities in 1995, but still rings true today as the international struggle for equity continues. With brilliant performances and cinematography that elevates the entire story, this film is well worth the watch.
Tayo Omisore (Poetry Editor)
TV Show: Michiko and Hatchin (2008)
Dir: Sayo Yamamoto
For my animation and anime lovers! This show is amazing, 10/10, 22 episodes of pure action, feminism, and bossa nova 🙂 Under the unrelenting heat of the South American sun, hardened criminal Michiko Malandro breaks out of a high security prison for the fourth time in search of a man from her past. Michiko finds a clue in the form of Hana Morenos, a young girl trapped under the fists of her abusive foster family. This choice leads to a thrilling detective story that spans throughout Brazil, as they try to find this elusive man, why is he so elusive? Well he’s presumed to be dead.
At its purest, Michiko and Hatchin is an anime about likeable people in unlikely circumstances and their dumb choices. If you’re looking for people to believe in when optimism itself seems in rare supply, please give this show a try. You can even watch the dubbed version, I’d even recommend it. Also you’re welcome for your new crush on Michiko Malandro.
Kimber Monroe (Co-Founder/Director of Operations)
TV Show: She’s Gotta Have It (TV Reboot 2018-2019)
Creator: Spike Lee
Where to Watch: Netflix
Spike Lee brings back his first film, She’s Gotta Have It, except this time as a two season TV show set in modern day Fort Greene. We watch Nola Darling, played by the incredibly fierce and striking DeWanda Wise, an artist and Brooklyn native in her twenties juggle her polyamorous relationships with four different partners, as well as the challenges she faces as a freelance painter all while watching her beloved neighborhood fight the good fight against gentrification.
Being a born and raised New Yorker who is passionate about saving her hometown from becoming a total Yuppie paradise, I felt a very strong pull to Nola as she struggles to find her artistic voice, save her community and finding a perfect balance between loving herself and giving love to her multiple situationships… Wise and Lee truly hit the nail on the head in this hilarious and heart-warming series and we LOVE to see real representation of 20-something black womxn artists figuring the shits out while also trying to make the damn rent. Also, the SOUNDTRACK is truly *chefs kiss*
Citrine Ghraowi (Politics Editor)
Film: The River of Love (Arabic: نهر الحب, Nahr al-Hob)
Director: Ezzel Dine Zulficar
Where to watch: Youtube (English subtitles available)
Egyptian director Ezzel Dine Zulficar successfully tackles an adaption of Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” (1877) filled with love, lust and the mysteries of true happiness, Nawal (Faten Hamama) marries a wealthy aristocrat (Zaki Rostom) to save her brothers financially unstable situation, only to meet the love of her life (Omar Sharif), amidst her devastatingly miserable fact- Sharif rose to fame in Egypt and soon after landed a lead role in his first American film Funny Girl (1968)!
Arabic classics have always had a special place in my heart. Growing up, my father would speak of the great artistry of film in the Arab world and the beautiful stories that came to life behind the television screen. Sadly (yet unsurprisingly) these films go unnoticed in the West, but my hope is through conversations with friends and platforms such as this, we’ll be able broaden our knowledge of the film world and discover tales we never knew existed in seemingly far away lands. As director Bong Joon Ho said, “Once you overcome the 1-inch barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” marriage. Those who know me know i’m such a sucker for a good romance/films that leave me sobbing (is she ok?) so it comes as no surprise that this film is high on my list of favorites.