From Hollywood blockbusters to Sundance darlings, these 12 recent movies would have passed the DuVernay test for racial inclusiveness.
Abderrahmane Sissako's 'Timbuktu'
Sean Baker’s iPhone masterpiece is a beautifully raw story of friendship set in the context of a Los Angeles subculture. The revenge comedy-drama follows a day in the life of two transgendered sex workers, Sin-Dee Rella and Alexandra (exceptionally played by newcomers Kiki Kitana Rodriguez and Mya Taylor). Just released from a 28-day stint in jail, Sin-Dee meets up with her best friend, Alexandra, only to discover that her boyfriend and pimp, Chester, has been cheating on her. The movie follows the two best friends over the course of 24 hours as they set out to find Chester and the woman he’s been cheating on Sin-Dee with.
Tangerine is currently streaming on Netflix.
Nigerian-American filmmaker Rick Famuyiwa is the director behind this fun and quirky coming-of-age indie comedy that follows the adventures of the 90s hip-hop-loving Malcolm (Shameik Moore) and his geeky high school crew in L.A.’s Inglewood. Famuyiwa is himself the son of Nigerian immigrants raised, like his main character, in Inglewood.
Dope, which premiered at Sundance 2014 and also features Zoe Kravitz and A$AP Rocky, is available to stream on Netflix beginning on February 10.
Late last year Ava DuVernay’s Array, a Los Angeles-based arts collective dedicated to propelling films made by women and people of color, picked up the South African drama Ayanda as part of a double theatrical release with Out Of My Hand. This coming-of-age story centers around a 21-year-old woman in Johannesburg (played by Fulu Mugovhani) as she fights to save the car repair shop she’s inherited from her late father. “To say that this bold portrayal of an imperfect Black woman’s self-discovery is a much needed addition to Hollywood’s standard homogenous fare would be an understatement,” Okayafrica’s Patrice Peck wrote of the film, one of our favorites of 2015.
Ayanda is available to stream on Netflix as of last month.
Last year, Mauritanian director Abderrahmane Sissako’s Cannes-premiering drama went away as the big winner at the French film industry’s Oscar equivalent, the César Awards. Set in the city of Timbuktu, the 2014 Oscar-nominated movie tells the story a cattle herder and his family whose lives are torn apart during the jihadist takeover of northern Mali.
Impressively, Timbuktu has a 99% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. You can download it on iTunes here.
Before he starred in the biggest blockbuster ever, John Boyega drew Sundance 2014 acclaim for his anti-hero turn in this Los Angeles-set drama. In it, Boyega plays a 21-year-old young dad determined to break free from his life of crime and violence after he’s released from prison and returns to the Imperial Courts housing projects of Watts, L.A.
The Flying Lotus-scored movie is currently being shopped for distributors. Until then, watch this recently-released trailer.
Michael B. Jordan gives the Rocky franchise a new life in this slick 2015 reboot directed by Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station). Determined to follow in the footsteps of his legendary boxer father, Apollo Creed of Rocky series fiction, Adonis Johnson moves from Los Angeles to Philadelphia in the hopes of training with a now aging Rocky Balboa.
You can pre-order Creed on iTunes here.