During lockdown, like many others, I watched the incredibly moving and timely struggle to raise awareness of structural racism in our society, that had been fought for many years, but that the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and others brought to wider consciousness. This is the tip of a giant iceberg of police violence, silenced voices and entrenched racism through all levels of society, and it is awful and uncomfortable and confronting.
But I think this time also heralds hope – that the message of Black Lives Matter movement branches throughout the globe – changing longheld and unquestioned hiring practices, cultural safety education and training, and importantly, diversifying representation in boardrooms and on screen.
I can only speak to my own experience, but I have been thinking about how I can unpack and question my unconscious bias and question the narratives that I have grown up with as a white person in Australia.
Part of this reeducation includes diversifying what I watch in my down time, and seeking to rebalance my intake. As Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche says in her TED talk there is danger in a single story.
Here are just a few examples of Black Excellence on screen that I have really enjoyed watching over the last few months. These shows have made me laugh, cry, and find out more about cultures and experiences that I hadn’t been exposed to before. This is not by any means an exhaustive list, but just three recent enjoyable and rich viewing experiences that I heartily recommend.
– Anaya Latter, Brand Manager, ACMI
Insecure (Seasons 1–4)
Issa Rae started out on YouTube with a webseries called Insecure Black Girl, and now she has an incredibly popular four-season series on HBO. She also champions young creatives – not just in the screen industries, but writers, musicians and producers. Insecure follows the trials and tribulations of Issa, played by Rae, and her relationships with her best friend, boyfriend and circle of friends. Insecure tackles important themes like toxic work culture, homophobia, and fear of intimacy – but in a hilarious, warm and real way. The show has a cult following for good reason, with a standout cast, skillful writing and, of course, an amazing soundtrack and fashion.
Watch it on Binge
Blood and Water (Season 1, Season 2 just announced)
Written and directed by Nosipho Dumisa, Netflix Original Blood and Water is a thrilling mystery of sisters separated at birth, set in Cape Town. With a strong cast of truly exceptional performances, this teen drama full of twists and turns is an entertaining and bingeable series that has recently been confirmed for a second series. For me, this was a welcome glimpse of teen life in contemporary Cape Town, outside portrayals in dystopian science fiction, like Neill Blomkampf’s Chappie or District 9. With Netflix’s Head of African Originals Dorothy Ghettuba announcing a Made in Africa collection in May of this year, there are plenty more movies and series to explore from across the continent.
Watch it on Netflix
Directed by Mati Diop, and set in Dakar, Senegal; Atlantiques is a wonderful, supernatural love story that is beautifully shot and features an ethereal electronic score by Fatima Al Qadiri. It’s a story of young love, undercut by class struggle, unpaid wages and arranged marriage. A surreal twist of magic realism makes this a haunting mystery that will leave you wanting more.
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