WOC + Film

A blog that will discuss topics about women of color in film, my feelings about it and my experience as someone who wants to become a film director. Edited by Yuleisy M. Audain for Film Criticism class (LIT 328)

I Open At the Close: A Open Letter to Ms. DuVernay

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Ms. DuVernay,

I was supposed to post this  yesterday. I  don’t like saying goodbye to things that matter to me.

It’s never been easy, I struggled for many years with the concept of change and it’s implications, and what does that do to me as I grow towards the path that I am meant to be.I’m a student, about to be a college graduate,  and I struggle with the idea that I want to pursue is far from easy. I have too many vices that infiltrate my options, and it’s like going through a ladder where many of the steps are not there. In our society, women of color have been degraded as the lowest of the low, where we would be categorized by our voluptuous parts and our skin has been degraded to be ‘exotic’ you have been recognized as a strong woman of color, holding such a profession that does not invite us to be part of.  It’s hard, coming from a third world country made me realize that the best influences for us to think differently come from simply sit down, watch a screen and visually interpret those images as the things to be, and that people my skin color are never part of.

This blog, and my words have been, in many a form of sanctuary where I can freely express my ideas and concepts about something that not most people that I have around me understand, just see it as something that it’s simple where in reality, it is very complex and very exclusive to a certain group of people that indeed, don’t look like me at all. Writing these posts, made me let out a part of me that was overflowing with ideas and research that without me noticing had build up. Ms. DuVernay, although you are in your beginning steps of becoming one of the most influential black female directors and I, now that I am about to graduate college and start building my way up there, I can’t deny that I am scared. That I know that the path that I am about to take is a scary lonely road where I don’t really know what to do, I know that I can look back at this blog, at my words, and find words or encourage when I feel the lowest of the low. It makes me feel happy that I see a woman that looks like me doing something that I am passionate about.  

I remember clearly the night that I had to move to the United States all by myself and leave my family behind was like saying goodbye to someone who I didn’t want to let go. Now that I am at the end of this journey with this blog, I have to let go something that I really don’t want to say goodbye so soon of. Although, this might be the end of writing for this blog, really this is the beginning of a new journey where I hope that I can need dedicated people who see this need for all women of color to come together and become one, and build our own companies where we support all areas of study to make it more accessible to become our truest self and pursue leadership roles where we, as women of color today we can’t easily access. You allow the possibility for this to happen, and I hope I can do the same.

Thank you for being just you and when I meet you, expect a big bear hug.

-Yuleisy Michel Audain

Am I not enough?: Black Venus and the history of the black female body

This has to be one of the hardest pieces of writing I have ever written this blog.

I have been avoiding to write this for the intense feelings that this topic bring to me every time I think about it. It’s a topic that, is difficult to explain in words, so I’ll try to be as clear as I can.

As a black woman, we got it hard.

Our bodies have been mutilated, discriminated and used to the worst possible ways to ultimately be shamed and be distracted to be less than the ‘perfect’ body…whatever that is. The black female bodies has suffered for many years and until this day, it has still been the joke of the century. Why is that my body epitomizes some great joke?

As a black woman, I realized many things about my body that I didn’t realize before, and my eyes opened to see something else that I haven’t seen before. Questions of doubt, of shame and of curiosity filled me with the questions as to why my body is diminished to be less than good.

This type of thinking started when I took a class dedicated to Black female sexuality in film. I entered this class thinking one thing and the next thing I know, I was flooded with all of this information that really bothered me, to the point where anger suddenly blinded me as all of the history of the ‘discovery’ of my body seems as it is some kind of experiment and not regarded as human.

While taking that class, I was engrossed with the need to learn more about the history and development of the Black woman body, and in the film Black Venus really did change my perspective on how the black female body influences history. Director Abdellalif Kechiche’s perspective on Saartjie Baartman explains her life in snippets, her trajectory of her becomings of being a showgirl, being proclaimed exotic because of her big breasts and voluptuous bottom. We see her dancing and showcasing her body amidst a dream of freedom, and ultimately being proclaimed as a scientific project.  

What’s most disgusting about this movie is a scene where a respected french scientist, after Baartman’s death showcased her brain and her genitalia, proclaiming this to be a scientific discovery. It was sickening to see  a woman who looks like me to be showcased against her will as a scientific experience. It wasn’t until long ago that her remains were transferred to her native land, and finally rested to where she truly belonged.

I remember seeing this movie and sitting in my chair, stuck in my seat with many emotions happening at the same time. Like my encounter with the incident of the Four Little girls, Baartman’s story left me speechless and sad that this happened. In the movie, all she wanted was the freedom that she couldn’t get at home be provided somewhere else, and ultimately not being granted because her fate was decided by someone else with a lighter pigment than her.

In his blog ushypocrisy.com, writer Caleb Gee writes that “…Furthermore, in a quote that will be of some interest to students studying the African origin of Egyptian Civilization, he makes the following assessment: “What has been hereto noted and must be repeated, in view of the errors propagated by recent works, is that…[not] any Negro race gave birth to the people who gave rise to the civilization of Ancient Egypt, from where it may be said that the whole world inherited the principles of law, science and even religion.” This quote is of course entirely fictional, but it strikes me as being very much the same argument which is still at the heart of many Euro centrists who echo these sentiments today: the internalized racist belief that Black people are simply not capable of constructing great civilizations or of the intellectual capacity to achieve accomplishments of such magnitude.”  

Tambay A. Obenson from Indiewire also writes that “ Rarely do we see stories told that detail the inhumanities whites have dished out intently and indiscriminately on the darker-skinned “others” across the world, without retribution. In a way, it’s like a revision of history.”

This revision of history is rather comical to me as the glorification we have in this day and age, where people pay all of this money to reflect something that they are not. Millions of dollars are dedicated to be granted the ideal big full lips, the small waist and the large buttocks is what is in the market, how squat challenges are one of the most important things to do to recreate something that we as black women had before it became the ‘it’ thing to have.

Now, coming back to 2016 and the mass change of women of color taking positions of power and leadership roles, I always remember back and think about Baartman’s struggle for freedom for her to be her independent person amidst all of these factors that pushed it down. Although a very depressing and angering movie, it’s sad to know that she lived such a short life, dying at 26  while trying to become a free woman and not obtaining what she wanted. As A woman, a black woman who is trying to tackle a system where is dominated by a white male society, I embrace her endurance towards what she wanted in life.

As a woman that is pursuing such a leader role, I know that I must face many obstacles in a system that ultimately degrades us people that can be considered others. I know that it’s going to be hard, but not impossible.

Watch the trailer below:

Serving The Story, Part Deux: Selma

I have been rather ill for the last week, and while in my bed I was dealing over the fact that I couldn’t breathe right, I couldn’t stop getting these thoughts out of my head. I mentioned in my first post, many moons ago over my first encounter with Ava Duvernay’s Selma and the impact that it made me feel because of how she structured the movie and the encounters leading  Martin Luther King’s trajectory.

Still, to this day I am surprised as how to it took me this far to talk about Selma and the interactions that it did to me as an audience member, how the first few moments of the movie made me tear up, as if I just lost someone very dear to me. The reason why this resonates with me is her homage to the assassination of the devastated murder of the four little girls in the 16th street Baptist Church bombings, the staring point where Reverend King began his trajectory as the icon that we all know.  

In one of the few but very powerful images that Selma conveys the assassination of the infamous four little girls while being in an environment that is meant to be safe. In the early morning of September 15th 1963, these girls were on their way to change into their chorus robes where their lives were taken from them.

In an interview with NPR, DuVernay speaks of this extreme, yet powerful statement that she made to the world. She explains that “ [I] was approaching it from my point of view as a woman filmmaker: The idea of showing a bombing, showing a blast, showing any kind of detonation might be different from that of a male director who might be more interested — and this is just based on what I’ve seen for many, many years — might be more interested in the physicality of the blast, the gusto of that violence. I was much more interested in reverence for the girls. It was important to me that you hear their voices.”

She also explains that “ They’re talking about what little black girls talk about — getting your hair wet and keeping it pressed and doing all that kind of thing. You start to come into their world just as they are taken out of the world. And so from there, what is the next thing to show? Is it shrapnel? Is it fire? For me it was the fabric of their dresses and their patent leather shoes, all of the things that remain from the souls that were lost.” Not only DuVernay’s approach not only comes from a filmmaker, it’s her duty as the director to bring, but also she shares her womanhood in a time where style and discreet talk gets completely changed at the sake of racist intentions. To change such a topic in a matter of seconds takes a lot of emotion and change of mood.

I remember seeing this happening and me unconsciously saying “no no” until the smoke was the last thing I saw. It was surreal, it was something as simple but deadly that changed the perspective that the movie could have ever happened. I wanted to do something, anything that could help them to not go through such suffering but when the explosion occurred, my running thoughts just went to what everything turned into, black.

It’s not easy to see such images. Immediately, my tears couldn’t stop and I could contain the emotions that were running through me. What captivates me to this it’s not only what happened, and how Duvernay’s way of showing the images, but the way that she positioned such images to her advantages. She decided to hit us with a hard, cold punch of emotions that left me, and many more in that same devastation that reminded me the first time that I encountered the history behind the four little girls.

My First encounter with this specific impact of how this story captivated me not only as an audience member, but as a woman is Spike Lee’s Four little girls, where I encountered while I was taking a class of his works. This out of all of his films attracted me, because the ways and style of how the documentary film aimed to show  the stories of the girls and the families, it ultimately made me connected to these girls in a way that I never thought I would.

In an interview with the Hollywood reporter, Lee explains that “ The most trying moment I had was in post-production, when our great archivist Judy Aley had found post-mortem photographs of four girls, which were gruesome. And many nights, I prayed at night. It was a conflict. Should I include these shots or not? And finally, the Spirit told me to include it.” These decisions, strike you as odd but can become of extreme conflict when a director has to choose that would impact audiences that like to me, where significant to the impact that these four little girls made in my life.  Lee’s spirit is the voice in our minds that helps us choose in times of conflict, where such choice affects your film either in a good or bad way. Either way, that choice is hard.

DuVernay in the 2 minutes of the film already has me crying and this is not fair. You usually lure the audience to see that this is important to watch because, but she attracts you and smacks you cold, using that to your advantage to present that what we are going to see, it’s not just some rendition of an event, but the little stories that fueled a man to keep pushing while having what it felt the whole world against him. She showed such an important man and his struggle to keep it together amidst all what’s going on, and how his life and most important, his family where at the eye of the storm.

A while back, I wrote about this worry, this face that we as people of color filmmakers have to fill in order to serve the story, but at what cost we are sacrificing our work? Ava, the dear that she is responds with the most simple yet powerful statement that implies towards the service that we must do and she does, she explains to just simply , but powerfully serve the story. To just serve it without worry and all else just will come after.

Denise MCnair Carole Robertson Addie Mae Collins Cynthia Wesley were the names of these little girls who impacted my way of being and that are the example of loosing young lives at the hands of people who want to do malicious things to prove a point. The innocent needs to be protected and we have a duty to always, serve the story.

Working on Limitations: Vermont Is For Lovers, Too.

I used to watch Scandal.

Like a lot.

I remember watching the first episode of this show and feeling this thrill that I never experienced before, the interest that I had taken to this show not only had to do that there was a woman with the same pigment on the screen that had so much power, but also that the woman who was writing these episodes where as well of the same pigment of my skin.

One of the most, if not groundbreaking shows that are airing right now, the first word that anyone would say is Scandal. Written by a goddess called Shonda Rhimes, she developed a political driven show called Scandal where the show runs to explains the everyday lives of the people who deal with the political involvement of our country, i.e. the President of the United States.

The most important character in this series is Ms. Olivia Pope. Played by the goddess Kerry Washington, where everyday showed not only the power that she has over the development of decisions of who will become president, and also on the involvement of great decisions that not only affect herself, but the country overall. Oh and also she loves the president and he’s married but that’s another topic to talk about later…

One of the reasons why I am mentioning about this show and it’s importance of this blog is towards the episode Vermont is for Lovers, Too. where Ava DuVernay directed the episode in the recurrence of how the show and story where developing. In this instance and for a long time, the pairing of all important figures that developed such an episode where lead by women of color. We have first the goddess of Shonda Rhimes developing the words, goddess of Kerry Washington playing Ms. Pope and Goddess DuVernay Directing the movement and flow of how the actors explain one of the most important episodes in the third season of this show with such magnitude.

Vermont is for Lovers, Too combined the stressful distrust Olivia Pope has with her family, and her awareness of her mother, after twenty years of disappearance that she might actually be alive. In a place where secrets and the truth are always on a challenge, Pope’s involvement within her personal life and her professional life clashes sometimes to her advantage and sometimes to her disadvantage, and that’s what makes this show so damn good.

Duvernay’s expression towards her involvement was clear from the beginning. DuVernay explains in an interview with the Urban Daily titled Ava DuVernay On Directing “Scandal” And The Universality of Black Film. She talks about her involvement with show stating that “ I’m usually creating my own worlds – writing the story, hiring the crew, designing the look, casting based on my preferences and needs, selecting everything from wardrobe to production design to music.  So my goal was the serve Shonda’s vision. That was my singular focus. To make her happy. It was fascinating being in another creative space from the mind of another Black woman and working within that.”

Duvernay also explains that “…This isn’t an Ava project.  It’s Shonda’s so it needs to be Shonda-esque not Ava-esque. For me honestly, the success will be if you watch it and it looks like “Scandal” and not like my stuff!  That was my job. To make an episode of “Scandal,” not to insert my own way too much.” Her involvement within her limitations gave her enough direction to use the characters and the setting that she has to propose an engaging image to audiences.  

In every single interview, example that DuVernay speaks about her involvement with Scandal, she expresses her cautious yet developed vision to how the story develops. In my directing class, my professor explained that 75 percent of the battle when it comes to directing has to come with casting/direction of actors. When this happens, and with proper communication and development of the blueprint of the text, that’s where the magic happens.  Although she directed this only episode, she came in, did what was to do, slayed through the whole thing, blew kisses and left the building.  

When all of these fierce components, with the will of all of these goddesses that is how we got this great episode happening. The support and the opportunity given in such limitations exploded towards the representation we so deserve. Writer Kunbi Tinuoye from thegrio, explained beautifully in her review on this episode that “ When I look at behind-the-scenes photos of her directing and then I watch the episode tonight, I see a reflection of the possibility for myself to do great things and there’s no longer an excuse not to go and create great shows and movies” It’s reading these words empower me to also keep going where I don’t think I have nothing going right for me.

In this episode, we don’t see much of Ava’s view towards how it should be, but she uses the same look that we have been given for the other seasons and adds her input towards her visual engagement with her actors. It is impressive where she defends her work to be engaging to the point that she distinguishes herself to be part of the group, and for that she also stands out in her own auteurist ways.  Her limitations is what ultimately makes her unique. The difference of this show to any other political dramas out there, is because it taps to the concept that yes, women of color could hold such high positions in such a white-male dominated circus that it is the white house. Popular political shows always show very few interactions with people of color, especially women of color, and when we get that, we just simply can’t get enough.

I remember the day that I met the ‘real’ Olivia Pope, Ms. Judy Smith. She met with me after talking on a panel on her involvement in Washington and her image as how it has changed after being the source of information on political affairs in her life.  We had a brief conversation as she had another appointment where she had to run to, but I asked her about the importance of figures like her to dominate such a white male driven job. She explained to me that it is never easy, but she said “with the right pair of heels, everything will be alright”.

Shonda uses her right pair of shoes each time she uses different actors and actresses to come and play these characters that present the modern day idea of what Washington is today. Rhimes used her best pair of heels when she used DuVernay’s directorial stand. Shows like the West Wing and 24 present political environments, but Scandal in it’s own right presents this new outlook of how politic works, through the eyes of a woman of color, and the success of such is still on the rise today.  

Serving The Story?

As a person of color, it has been installed to us the concept of always giving back to your community. There is this sense of duty that is imperative for us to tackle, ultimately serving the purpose to present to the world through our perspectives as directors the missing stories that are not out there. This is something that we as individuals got to do, it’s more of like a duty that we have to pay homage to our heritage, but sometimes I think, is this a bad thing?

I want to direct movies and I always had this concept that people of color are always boxed in when it comes to doing movies. Like any other director, who is not of color, it seems rather easy to jump from one genre to another, some of them dominate their specific genres, giving an auteur perspective towards what they are doing, but I feel like we always get to do movies in which we use the stereotypes that we encounter and we sometimes do not expand or get out of these little box of types of movies.

The concern with this topic to me is that it’s not a bad thing to do these types of movies, rather I find them to be one of the best, if not perfect people to portray these images to the world, but because we ‘categorize’ ourselves in such shelf, we as filmmakers won’t even get considered to do something different. It’s this categorization, this boxing of the certain movies that we categorize ourselves with, would it hurt us at the end of the day?

The reason why I write about this is because of my findings Ava Duvernay speech about this subject. The video was of Duvernay’s keynote speaking on the South by Southwest (SXSW) where she gave a 45 minute video on her trajectory of her directing methods, and what she has accomplished from her first video, to the last one, Selma, which received much praise for it’s work.

As I mentioned before, Selma was the first film that I have seen of her work and I appreciate it. Not only it made me see Dr. King’s trajectory, but also the highlight of the little stories, where they would give names to those key people who they lost their lives to the freedom that we are still fighting for. Her speech came not only from her success really, but from telling her struggles and her throwing up and crying tears of anxiety outside in the bathroom theater of her release of her latest movie.

She explained this raw, yet powerful speech with one thing that rounds everything back with the question of the feeling of being boxed in a certain type of film. She explained that at the end of the day she did her last three movies at the expense of the details the numbers, and that with Selma she just served the story.

To do a movie with such magnitude, to not being the first choice to present this film, to her doubts and her fears, she strive passed that and used her purpose.To just serve the story and not focus about her but ultimately what she is doing, what she is waking up everyday to do is to use the perception of this era that impacted our lives for years to come as a portrayal of endurance to any battle.

When she went in front of all of these individuals who to know about this woman with such power in her hands, it made me remember that when I was younger, what I would see in the television screen never looked like me. I had my only Barbie doll colored down in black because I thought she would look better, and that I didn’t accept myself because of what I looked in the mirror. It was not only a portrayal of oppression where it was not only coming from my society, but also from myself. Now, because of this awareness we have barbie dolls that represent us in different skin colors and professions.  

When DuVernay was asked of the ways that we could change this perspective of looking at ourselves, she and many of us come back to the topic that we are being neglected to: Opportunity. It sounds like a broken record with one word, opportunity, being said over and over again but it can never happen because it’s like nobody is listening.

She highlights at the ways that her tackling this important story and her duty as a woman of color not only guided her, but supported her into doing this movie. That in a sense, it was her duty to do the extensive research, to find the right characters, to even composing a beautiful score that would help portray with more of an impact to whomever was watching the movie. She even explains that she doesn’t’ know how it got so popular, which she let it be on it’s own and things appeared from left to right.

Looking back, I understand her anxiety, her terrified perception at it being something of such magnitude. Her questioning and her purpose ultimately brings to me the answer to the question I proposed before, is it a bad thing? and I think the general answer would be no, but that the problem lies with the people who have the power to realize how many people of color, artists who can prove themselves could present this magnificent and truly life changing experiences not only through film, but beyond.

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Following this idea to pay homage to our roots is not a bad thing at all, but how is it as the artist that you are to combine it to some modern topics is what eludes real art. I see it every time I see a new film, portrait and picture that describe the heritage and their meaning with every shot, with every scene and with every movement a movie has, ultimately the purpose of what is being presented exceeds its expectations.

An Apple Commercial in an Auteur perspective…

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It’s been a stressful week.

For days I have been working 12 hours a day, going late to sleep and back at it again to work. My mother always told me that hard work would get you to the place that you belong but sometimes when it’s not your idea, it takes a lot from you. Working for other people’s envisions, where they are good or not ultimately take time and preparation and this, has led me to think towards the purpose of this post and it’s meaning in my life .

When working for someone else, there is something that you have to lose, in order to receive. I see it as a give or take combination, where you take something that already exist, an entity and your job, in this case as the director, is to present it to the audience and make them see your vision. Auteurism ultimately aids the visionary to keep things spicy in their career, ultimately aiming to use this tool to their advantage into their preparation towards what they want to present to the audience.

In one of the previous posts, I mentioned my first encounter with DuVernay’s work as she has been the ‘it’ thing to talk about. Really, the topic of Women of Color with the involvement of film has been on fire, and this awareness that is rising and shaming Hollywood for their extreme gender gap and their treatment to be unequal than what they should get, has been fueling me to the concept of the power to being a director in today’s date. Even with that, DuVernay’s name is the first one to lead this conversation she influences the way that we discuss these topics of race and perspective together as one.

In the lens of an Auteurist, we will be changing our lenses to DuVernay’s Apple commercial. In this minute and six seconds video, we indulge into the perspective of the group of successful women of color in film and television and their enjoyment of being their truest self. Along with music, their moves and their reactions come to be authentic to the screen.

We are all used to this concept that we don’t get to really know the actor itself, more of the images and characters that they portray for our entertainment. Here in this minute and change video, we get a glimpse of their interaction and their support towards what they all do. The reaction of this video made this topic and the importance to be aware of having support systems reassures me of their connection not only as actresses, but as women of color with impact to their community acting towards the visual portrayal of being themselves.

Stars like Taraji P. Henson, Kerry Washington and Mary J Blige appear in this video to join together and jam to some of their favorite tunes and show their comfortable and authentic charisma in a position where we don’t get to see these faces. When In Hollywood, it’s not hard to notice that as an actor, actress of person of substantial position, the camera seems to extract all human connection to being a regular human person…whatever that is.

Their interaction, where Ms. Washington and Ms. Henson walk toward Ms. Blige’s house is authentic. Their interaction and their body language express to the camera comfortableness, security and freedom to express themselves without being judged. Their reactions after playing the songs is great, where their reactions after hearing their favorite tracks emits happiness, something that again is not really portrayed.  

This simple yet powerful statement comes at the best time. Apple music drops this video in the time that Viola Davis wins Best actress at the Emmys, where she mentions “The only thing that separates women of color, from anything else, is opportunity and that is EXACTLY what this video emphasizes on. This opportunity that DuVernay used to her advantage, took all of these important women, gave them good music, hired a great cinematographer and went to town with their moves.

Auteurism in this modern era is something that is extremely hard to do. When I learned about this concept and what it does, names like Steven Spielberg, Alfred Hitchcock and many others came to mind, but thinking about it, Ava Duvernay’s concept with this minute film not only is successful to attract young people like me to see the representation, and the opportunity that we so deserve. Her ‘hired hand’ with Apple and it’s purpose with grabbing their audience’s attention helps a lot, but to me, as a woman of color means a lot to me because I see three successful women dance their worries away I feel represented not only to myself, but to the world.

Watching this video again, in a time where I have been so stressed, makes me happy. In the directing class that I am taking, the professor spoke about how as young people my age stress themselves out where they are not supposed to. She told all of us in the class to find something that helps you relax where everything seems to be too much. The first thing that came to my mind was the word ‘dance’ and how free it makes me feel.

How DuVernay, whether intentionally or not made me feel when I saw the commercial for the first time and how many other women of color felt when they saw this video. This commercial is empowering in many ways and it engages audience and piece together as one, not only as a video but as an representation of what it means to be a woman of color in the entertainment industry.

Like any piece of art, the creator, in this case the director aims to meaningfully to present their work of art to their audiences. This being my last semester as a student and a person who wants to pursue film as a profession, I have to realize that this is only the beginning towards what I want to accomplish. It’s hard work but I’m up for it. As everything is going crazy, I just got to take it easy and break a few moves and everything will be alright.

The Door By Ava DuVernay (A review)

The door

As I was trying to come up to write this piece, I stood in front of a Keurig making myself some tea. My go to drink has always been English breakfast with a hint of half and half and no sugar, where the bitter yet rich power of black tea helps me get warm. While standing there, an epiphany of sorts occurred, and it dawned on me that this preparation of something as simple as making tea can allude to the development and production of film.  

Preparing the cup, getting the k-cup and adding the half and half to the hot drink, it reminded me of the steps as a filmmaker, and the steps that one must do before everything comes together and the movie is distributed to audiences.In this case, Director Ava DuVernay has completely catch this set up with some of her works.

In a collaboration with the Miu Miu brand for the MIU MIU’S Women’s tales, we will be taking about Duvernay’s short film, The Door. In this short, silent yet impactful short film, we encounter these types women in different stages of their lives seeking for aid in a time of solitude. This movie stars some renowned actors and artists such as Gabrielle Union, who plays the Lady in Red, Alfre Woodard, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Adepero Oduye and singer/songwriter Goapele.

The first shot of the film we encounter is a clean, crisp almost like painting style of a blue background. In the middle of this shot, we encounter a lady wearing all red, looking at the sky in a thoughtless mood. Her dress stands out in the most convenient ways, visually it is engaging towards the screen. I was mesmerized, not five seconds after the film has begun and already I receive a beautiful scenery. Visually, this movie grabs the attention of the watcher instantly, showing fashionable women trying to help each other out in a time where her friend needs it the most.

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All of the Lady in Red’s friends attend her door, at the sake of her trying to get her out of this bitter mood the person she loves made her suffer. Her friends, and further along her what seems to be her mother, ultimately help her realize what she has, Support. Having a system of people that truly cares about you and your well being helps a lot on the development of the self.

She felt alone in a time where being alone is not good. Being alone ultimately for anyone is not a good thing, it one of the most undesirable feelings a human can encounter. Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground by Blind Willie Johnson describes this feeling, where in the worst times loneliness can do bad things to your body. Her friends where the support she so needed, and this much needed companionship ultimately landed her to see her worth to be better than what she is expected to be. As towards the making of the tea, one of the most important elements that DuVernay used in this visually engaging yet silent film is music.

Music is a very important lens to look within. The music used  helps the transitions to be as smoothly as the visuals. The visuals and the music combine with one another to present her ideas to the film. In the first piece, the sudden, mellow and thoughtful jazzy notes allure to her struggle with loneliness, and her friend comes and checks to see if she has eaten something. The music that guides this beginning scene helps sympathize and ultimately understand the Lady in Red’s suffering.

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The second beat has to do something more upbeat, something that one would play when you are getting ready for a nights out with her friends. This is exactly what the second friend does to her, she helps her become lively again and dance away her worries. She then takes the initiative and goes out to listen to a piece that in The Lady in Red relates to,  as music reflects the words that are not said in the film.

The last piece is more of a more thoughtful sound, going back to that jazzy tones where she encounters with a woman older than her, which she talks and seeks for advice in a time where she needs it the most. The music, aligned with the visuals captures this stages where ultimately, the lady in red disappears, and becomes her own woman, and leaving her suffering in the ring she was once given by the person who broke her heart.

Her endurance and her learnings shows ultimately that a modern woman of color is. The Lady in Red represents in much the ways that as a community that we need to do in order to strive to better. It’s important to see this type of views in a screen where girls like me would benefit from.

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Another great example that shows these types of support system is another video that Duvernay shot for Apple, which starred stars like Kerry Washington, Mary J. Blige and Taraji P. Henson where they danced freely to their favorite music. What better way to express your inner freedom than through dancing? I love it every time I see it, because it reminds me to feel good about myself, and that their promotion also highlights towards women who look like me to just feel good.

As I finish the last sip of this delicious tea, which helped me warm up as I sit in a very cold room, I appreciate all of the things that helped me get this cup of tea to the best taste that it could be. In a grand scale of things, Duvernay’s usage of all of these different, yet essential to make this visual and engaging movie for us to share. The Door ultimately aims to show that there is a light in the dark tunnel and supports systems are what help you get there.

Trailer for this movie is below: