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Backlight: Black Films And TV Shows To Shout About

This week gave us lots of announcements and news on amazing projects from all over the world. We heard progress updates on a bunch of projects from black creative teams, plus exciting Oscar news and queer film trailers.

A Tamir Rice Movie Is In Development

A movie is being developed based on the fatal shooting of twelve-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014. Shadow and Act reported that Rice’s mother, Samaria, is developing the film with Blue Angel Entertainment and Nonara Productions. Rice’s death, among too many others, sparked the Black Lives Matter movement. This film may help to shine a spotlight on police brutality and racism in America today.

New Trailer For ARRAY’s Latest Doc

Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY has released a new trailer for the education documentary, Teach Us All. The film’s Netflix release will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock Central High School by the Little Rock Nine. The film looks at the violent response to the Little Rock Nine, and the impact of the Civil Rights Movement on the education of children today.

The debut of Teach Us All is also a reminder that it’s only been 60 years since integration at Little Rock. This week, Ava DuVernay was listed as one of TIME’s Firsts, being the first black woman to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Whilst this progress deserves to be celebrated, the fact that it’s taken so long underpins Tribeca and AT&T’s film initiative, AT&T Presents: Untold Stories. This initiative aims to fund and support underrepresented filmmakers—like last year’s winner Faraday Okoro and his film Nigerian Prince—making it an important player in increasing representation of people of colour on our screens.

Two New Genre Projects From Black Creators Boost Representation In Geek Culture

Black people, along with other people of colour, are woefully underrepresented in genre media. Some creators are making progress in this area, like Sharon Lewis, writer and director of Brown Girl Begins. This crowdfunded film is based on Nalo Hopkinson’s afro-futurist novel Brown Girl In The Ring, which follows a priestess tasked with resurrecting Caribbean spirits in order to save herself and her people. Brown Girl Begins is set to premiere at New York’s UrbanWorld Film Festival on September 23rd.

Whilst Brown Girl Begins looks at magic and black feminism, a new series called Keloid features science fiction and superheroes. This indie drama from Huriyyah Muhammad and the Black TV & Film Collective (BTFC) follows a young man’s coming-of-age journey as he navigates having newfound superpowers. Keloid explores a mother-son relationship alongside the feelings of alienation that many of us experience as we grow up. You can watch the first episode here, with new episodes dropped every Thursday.

Both Keloid and Brown Girl Begins feature compelling and original stories from black teams, highlighting the richness and range in stories from people of colour. These two projects help to contribute to an increasingly inclusive and diverse geek culture, one that showcases people of colour in a variety of roles and narratives.

Cool Projects From Cool People

The Chilean film A Fantastic Woman, from director Sebastián Lelio, has been winning prizes at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival, with lead actress Daniela Vega set for an Oscar campaign. This could make her the first ever trans actor to receive an Oscar nom.

In other LGBTQIA+ Oscar news, Norway has entered the paranormal thriller Thelma for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars. Joachim Trier’s Thelma tells the story of a woman who develops supernatural powers when she starts feeling attraction for another woman. The trailer sets up Thelma as an exploration and critique of religious attitudes towards queerness.

Speaking of queer films, The Carmilla Movie just dropped a sexy, spooky trailer that has lesbians everywhere screeching. Based on the hit web series, Carmilla, the movie is a romance featuring lesbian vampires, making it perfect for Halloween.

Whilst Thelma might be Norway’s foreign language Oscar contender, Japan and Korea have also put forward their entries. Japan has chosen Ryota Nakano’s Bathwater, a film about the relationship between a terminally ill woman and her daughter. Meanwhile, Korea has selected Jang Hun’s A Taxi Driver, a fact-based drama around the 1980 Gwangju Pro-Democracy Movement.

To end, it’s been two years since the body of Syrian three-year-old Alan Kurdi washed up on a beach in Turkey. To memorialize his death, and the deaths of an estimated 8,500 other Syrian refugees, Kite Runner author Khaled Hosseini collaborated with UNHCR and The Guardian to create a touching animated short. You can watch the short, Sea Prayer, here.

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