This gorgeously shot documentary is an intimate, clear-eyed look at the complicated relationship between Black women, their beauty, and America’s view of both. Filmmaker Jennifer Holness follows a group of Miss Black America contestants during the pageant’s 50th anniversary year, using the occasion as the springboard for a bigger, deeper conversation. The film’s superpower is its access: We’re up-close and personal with Black women candidly sharing experiences of society’s rejection (and appropriation) of their beauty—and their evolving responses. Equally significant, academics connect the historical framework for Black beauty to the realities of life in America for Black women. Recording artist India Arie, who celebrated her Afrocentric looks in her 2001 hit “Video,” offers grounded insight. And there’s a twist: Rachel Dolezal, infamous for identifying as Black despite being born white, also weighs in. Subjects of Desire is a rich, humanizing exploration of a hot-button subject. –Celia C. Peters
Saturday, October 9, 7:00pm, Smith Rafael Film Center
$14 Member | $16.50 General | $15 Senior | $8 Students & Youth (12 & Under)
Toronto-based Jennifer Holness’ career as a writer and producer spans documentary and narrative, and film and series television. For Love, Sex and Eating the Bones (2003), which she co-wrote and produced, she received a Best Canadian First Feature Film Award from the Toronto International Film Festival. As a director, she has concentrated on documentaries, making her feature debut with Speaker of the Dead (2000). Subjects of Desire is her second feature.