The Weather in Britain is so unpredictable, so if you had plans to laze away in the park or have a BBQ and they’ve been postponed because of a sudden downpour of rain then don’t be too disheartened, Shades of Noir has compiled a great list of films to watch whilst waiting for the re-appearance of the sun.
1. Pumzi (2009)
Away from the Eurocentric narrative of Sci-fi movies, Pumzi is a short production about what the world could be like if there was a shortage of water. Asha is a laboratory agent who is determined to prove water could be restored on earth. Check it out to see if she’s successful or if it is an illusion of her desire. Staring the beautiful Kudzani Moswela this well produced film was screened at Sundance film festival as part of the new African film project.
Set in an Australian prison, Convict is about an ex Australian soldier, who is of Lebanese heritage. Although he is given a bravery award for his service in Iraq, he lands in trouble on his arrival back in Australia. Written by George Basha, the film portrays the harsh realities of being in prison when corruption and greed is involved. Using a a soap opera style story line to propel the narrative it offers believable insight into wider social issues of racism in Australian society. Convict places a microscope into conflict which may arise based on race and religion between Arab, Aboriginals and White inmates. This is a must watch. However, it is extremely disappointing to see the only female character, who is only shown in a limited number of scenes, subjected to sexual harassment more than once. It would have been easy to move the story along with the character shown in an assertive light. Instead the submissive female character plays on stereotypical depictions of women in film, particularly when compared to the ‘strong’ male lead.
3. For Colored Girls (2010)
A cast of beautiful black women to make any director envious. Tyler Perry is currently last to adapt Ntozake Shange play “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow Is Enuf” The initial play was a series of poems which were read by African American women. Each poem had a theme around love, lost, relationship. friendship, hate, pride and sisterhood.
Throughout the film one is taken on a emotional roller coaster however the ending gives hope and strength to anyone who is ever contemplated suicide.
4. Mulan (1998)
Yes for girl power and women heroes! A great film, teaching children to always challenge the misconception of what is and is not acceptable for an individual to do based on gender. Plus the Mulan character is full of sass and determination which every little girl needs to adopt.
Guess what?: Hua Mulan is actually a folktale about a legendary woman warrior who fought for China. The poem which is told throughout China to children was adapted by Disney in 1998. It is still widely debatable whether the story is true.
If you are watching the film with children why not read the short story first. Ask your children, if it is fair to hold someone back because of their gender?
5. Claudine (1974)
This thought provoking comedy was released in 1974 and is an insightful exploration of Black love, single motherhood and dependency on welfare. The secondary storyline displays youth unrest in a country which failed to secure true equality for all citizens, during and after the civil rights movement in America. Sadly some of the issues around poverty, housing and heavy handed policing raised in the 40 year old film still face African Americans today.
6. Girlhood (2015)
Celine Sciamma is well known for directing films which explore LGBTQ issues- Waterlilies and Tomboy. In Girlhood she focuses on Black girlhood in France, highlighting the unequal treatment they face due to race and gender. A coming of age film, thoughtfully directed and cast. read our full review here.
Interesting fact: Due to a lack of black actresses in French drama schools, Director Céline Sciamma cast most of the roles with actresses she spotted in the street, who had no professional experience before making the film.
Why not also check Cecile Emeke strolling video with Fanta, a real life experience of growing up Black in France.
7. Top 5 (2014)
A semi autobiographical film written, directed and starring Chris Rock is a loose insight into his life. Chris Rock is always sure to make the audience laugh and he does not fail to deliver in Top Five which is a drama with comical undertones.
The protagonist Andre Allen (played by Rock) has now taken a serious turn in his career and refuses to do any more comedies. Wanting to be taken as a serious actor he debuts a new film about the Haitian slave revolt. To get publicity for the new film he takes journalist Chelsea Brown around for the day and through his hood, however she is interested in real reason why he has decided to give up comedy. In one of the scenes we meet Andre’s family and friends who discuss their top five rappers of all time. Top five received great reviews, awards and nominations and Chris Rock is currently working on a sequel.
Side note: My Top Five great rapper have to be; Tupac, Drake, Foxy Brown, Nicki Minaj (old school Nicki though) and Eminem. Who are your Top Five great rappers?
8. Girl 6 (1996)
Spike Lee is one of the greatest American directors of all time and he continuously directs films which delve into socio-political issues, leaving viewers with problems society faces and giving them the inspiration to make a change. Girl 6 examines the misogyny faced by women in the film industry and shows how one women tackles the prejudice she faces.
Fun Fact: Prince composed the soundtrack album for the film.
9. Soul Food (1997)
A classic African American film. Try not to drool over the delicious food, and the helluva fine cast which includes Vannesa Williams, Mekhi Phifer and Nia Long. The film is told through the eyes of 11 year old Hammed and shows the importance of love, strength, and unity of a family which bonds over Sunday dinner. The film also loosely explores issues around employment for ex-convicts in America.
Side Note: Check out ban the box a UK and USA campaign calling on the government to ban employers to ask whether job applicants have committed a crime and make hiring practices fairer and non-discriminatory.
10. Home (2015)
Another film to watch with the kiddies just because the main character is voiced by Rihanna. Home is currently showing across the country this summer at many Cineworld cinemas between 10am and 11.30 for a discounted of £1.75.
Tweet me to let me know if I missed any great films @tajibeee @shadesofnoir
Bee Tajudeen is a content developer at Shades of Noir and is committed to challenging diversity issues in higher education.