pariah

8

15 Movies That Aren’t About Straight Thin White People That You Need To See

There are few things more depressing than trying to think of movies about young women who aren’t white. It’s also depressing trying to think of movies about young women who aren’t straight. Oh, and when you try to think of movies starring women who are plus-sized? Ha! Good luck with coming up with more than a handful, if that much.

Despite the fact that there are so many different kinds of girls out there–black, brown, queer, fat, etc–the media really hasn’t caught up, especially the movie industry. Seriously, we have a larger chance of seeing vampire girls than seeing a gay Asian chick. I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure there are more gay Asian chicks than vampires. What gives? Er, okay, the answer is racism but anyway…

There might be a huge lack of diversity in some of your favorite movies, but there are still some great films out there that actually represent the diversity of young women’s experiences. Check out these 15 movies that aren’t about straight, thin white people and add some new favorites to your list.

Lets not beat around the bush, American cinema has some serious diversity issues. The ratio of people of color to white people is, and has always been, appallingly uneven. There’s a lot of great commentary discussing thelack of appreciation for people of color working in film—most recently, when I recently reviewed the entireNetflix lesbian and bisexual lady film canon, a reader pointed out the lack of films about queer women of color available on Netflix. Thus I’ve compiled a list of a few recommendations of films that center on lesbian and bisexual women of color.

This is in no way a complete list, it’s just a few of my favorites. Please feel free to suggest your favorite films about queer women of color in the comments!

Pariah

Director: Dee Rees

Release: 2011

The Story: Pariah follows the teen Alike, who is coming to grips with her identity as a butch lesbian. Alike meets a girl named Bina, who is femme. She flirts with Alike, who awkwardly learns how to reciprocate a crush. Her mother is in extreme denial of her sexuality, and actually attacks her at least once. Bina seduces Alike, and then breaks it off immediately in the morning.

Circumstance

Director: Maryam Keshavarz

Release: 2011

The Story: Atafeh is a rich teenager with a penchant for parties and drug experimentation. While her obsessive ex-addict brother Mehran turns into an absolute creep, she cares for her orphaned girlfriend Shireen.

The Good: Although it is absolutely heartbreaking, this is a gorgeous movie. Your eyes never get tired of watching the subtle changes in scenery, and the expressions in the faces of the actors, who were under a significant amount of stress during filming. Although shot in Lebanon, it was based on Maryam’s experiences growing up in Iran, where it is illegal to make a movie like this. The making of “Circumstance” is an incredible story—it involved sending false scripts to the Lebanese government, actors accepting that they might not see their families for years due to their involvement in the film, and working in a constant state of anxiety for what might happen if they were discovered. That sounds like a movie in and of itself.

The Bad: Many of the scenes with Mehran are genuinely unsettling. 

D.E.B.S

Director: Angela Robinson

Release: 2005

The Story: Four young women attend a paramilitary academy where they train to be spies. That seems like it might be enough of a plot, but D.E.B.S goes the route of following main character Amy’s love life. She’s just broken up with her boyfriend and soon meets Lucy Diamond, a wanted criminal that wears all black and makes good jokes. The best military trainee and the best criminal hook up, and it’s just about as dramatic for everyone as you’d think it would be.

The Good: This movie so cute that it becomes almost impossible to criticize its obvious flaws. Lucy is by far the most dynamic character of the film but all of the characters are great. The character Max, Amy’s intensely ambitious fellow D.E.B.S. trainee, definitely deserves her own movie.

The Bad: I get the feeling that Lucy Diamond’s life was a lot more interesting right before this story started. Suffers from the shoddy writing.

Fire

Director: Deepa Mehta

Release: 1996

The Story: It’s easy to allow this film to be eclipsed by the protests, discussions, and cultural impact of its release. This was one of the first movies featuring homosexuality ever shown in India, and the reaction both for and against it was heated. It’s hard to see what the fuss was about when you actually watch the film itself, a quiet and tender love story based around the emotional and physical emancipation of women. The commentary on the effect that intense religious ritual can have on a family isn’t particularly favorable, which is part of why fundamentalists rejected its release.

The Good: The two main characters are terribly endearing, and their attraction to each other comes across quite naturally. They are incidentally the only likeable characters in the film, so that makes it easy to root for them. The soundtrack is also pretty great.

The Bad: It gets repetitive. 

Born in Flames

Director: Lizzie Borden

Release: 1983

The Story: Lizzie Borden’s cult classic Born in Flames explores how a socialist utopia could very well fail to bring equality to women or people of color and observes that revolutionary action is often what is required to create real political change. The movie follows two feminist groups that are mobilized by various pirate radio broadcasters. An important activist dies under suspicious circumstances, and the groups eventually merge to better combat the regime.

The Good: Born in Flames has a great soundtrack. As if it needed to try to win my love after that, it also features a girl gang roughing up guys on the street for catcalling women. This the oldest film on the list and is easily worth watching if only to gain context on the time period during which it was released.

The Bad: You can’t possibly fit as much societal commentary into a 90-minute film as Born in Flames attempts. And yet, I admire the attempt so much.

Mosquita Y Mari

Director: Aurora Guerrero

Release: 2012

The Story: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, the straight-laced honor roll student collides with a high school rebel, begins tutoring her, they develop a mutual crush, their differences tear them apart, and wind up on journeys of self-discovery. What could be a fairly standard coming-of-age tale instead becomes a beautifully rendered return to the uncertainty of adolescence in the capable hands of director Aurora Guerrero.

The Good: The characters are solid, the dialogue is legit, and the actors are top notch. Mosquita Y Maridemonstrates a level of tenderness and empathy towards its characters that is rare to find, while offering the observation that, for many under-privileged youth, upbringing and class status leaves little in the way of choices.

The Bad: I’d be hard pressed to criticize this film. It does exactly what it intends to do.

The Fish Child 

Director: Lucia Puenzo

Release: 2009

The Story: The story begins with the a teen girl, Lala, lusting after her family’s maid, Ailin… and that is quite honestly the least dramatic revelation of the story. Ailin is sexually abused by Lala’s father, she’s accused of murder, she’s put in prison at some point—she has a rough time, to say the least. The story mostly follows how Lala, evolves from a shady politician’s daughter into a warrior priestess to free her girlfriend from prison. If that line doesn’t sell you on a movie, what will?

The Good: The love story between the two main characters is enchanting, but the interjection of classic noir elements, commentary on the class system, and the complicated emotional aftermath of sexual assault all feature just as prominently in this powerful film. Lucia Puenzo is an incredible storyteller and I highly recommend following her work. Before this, she directed the equally acclaimed XXY.

The Bad: This movie is just brutal. I loved it, but if you’re looking for something light, this is probably the last movie on this list that you should watch.

Chutney Popcorn

Director: Nisha Ganatra

Release: 1999

The Story: The film revolves around the character Reena, who is a photographer that spends most of her free time riding around on a motorcycle with her girlfriend, living your standard carefree, leather-jacket-lesbian lifestyle. One day, Reena’s sister, who is trying to have a baby with her husband, discovers that she can’t bear children. Out of the middle of nowhere, Reena offers to have the baby for her. Reena’s mother, friends, girlfriend, and brother-in-law freak out about the pending arrival of the baby.

The Good: There aren’t a lot of lesbian movies that don’t at least partially rotate around one of the characters being really distressed about her sexuality. Half of this list alone has a character panicking, shutting down, or breaking off a relationship due to their inability to fully accept their attraction to women. In Chutney Popcorn,sexual identity is intertwined with other elements of the plot rather than being the focus focuses of the drama. This allows Ganatra to tell a story that is a more consistent portrayal of the reality of gay lives, while communicating the often culturally alienating experience of being the child of immigrants.

The Bad: The acting is… not always the best.

The Watermelon Woman 

Director: Cheryl Dunye

Release: 1997

The Story: The Watermelon Woman follows a young filmmaker who, much like the writer and director of this film, is named Cheryl Dunye (stay with me, here). Cheryl works at a video store and runs a part-time business with her friend Tamara, who has the worst attitude problem of all time and therefore has most of the best lines of the film. Cheryl watches a classic film, and becomes obsessed by a “mammy” style character who is billed only as “Watermelon Woman.” Most of the story rotates around her trying to find out more about the actor behind the role. Spoiler alert, she does.

The Good: Constant references to VHS rental that nobody born after the year 2000 will understand. Also, you HAVE to see the “alternative” girl that they hire at the video store. Piercings, purple hair, black t-shirt, ripped jeans, dog collar. If someone asked me what 1997 was, I would show them a picture of this character.

The Bad: It has all of the flaws you might expect of a low-budget venture of the late 90s, and there’s a scene with Camille Paglia that I couldn’t really get behind.

I Can’t Think Straight

Director: Shamim Sarif

Release: 2008

The Story: Layla is a writer. Tala is a rich person who likes to argue. Therefore, they have an affair. There’s a lot of the requisite questioning of one’s orientation from Tala, because she’s, you know, engaged to a man (SIGH). It turns out that she’s actually been engaged to a few men, but left them all… mostly because she’s gay, but also for some other reasons. Meanwhile, Layla is busy finding her voice as a writer and setting personal boundaries, like a boss. When Tala screws up, Layla does not hesitate to kick her to the curb, and it is rad. As usual, everything works out in the end. Shamim Sarif previously directed the stars in the more somber The World Unseen. The two are different in tone, but there are a lot of similarities. If you like one, you’ll probably like the other.

The Good: Cute stuff happens between the two actors for 90 minutes. It’s pretty great.

The Bad: I don’t want to make a big deal out of it, but this film has one of the worst gay-pun titles of all time.

Keep reading Sara Century’s list of 10 films about queer women of color at BitchMedia.org

6

Heartbreak opens onto the sunrise for even breaking is opening and I am broken, I am open. Broken into the new life without pushing in, open to the possibilities within, pushing out. See the love shine in through my cracks? See the light shine out through me? I am broken, I am open, I am broken open. See the love light shining through me, shining through my cracks, through the gaps. My spirit takes journey, my spirit takes flight, could not have risen otherwise and I am not running, I am choosing. Running is not a choice from the breaking. Breaking is freeing, broken is freedom. I am not broken, I am free.

6

13 Teen Movies You Need To Watch Before You’re 18

Is it just me or has the teen movie genre sort of petered in recent years? Seriously, think about how many teen movies came out in the ’90s and early ’00s compared to now. Surprising, right? Honestly that kind of sucks because teen movies can be so formative for us in the weirdness of our teen years and even into the weirdness of young adulthood.

Well, while we’re waiting for the next good teen movie, you might as well binge on some movies of the past. From iconic teen classics to lesser known indie flicks, check out these 13 teen movies that you have to watch before you’re 18. And if you’re over 18, well, better late than never!

PARIAH

[noun]

1. an outcast.

2. any person or animal that is generally despised or avoided.

3. someone who is unwanted or unwelcome in any society.

4. a member of a low caste in southern India and Burma.

Etymology: Tamil paṟaiyar, plural of paṟaiyan literally, drummer (from a hereditary duty of the caste), derivative of paṟai - a festival drum.

[jerry8448]

4

8 Of The Best Tough Love Lessons From Movies

Love hurts. I mean, you wouldn’t really know that from most rom-coms because whatever drama appears between two love interests always ends up getting resolved at the end. La la la, happy ending, everything is lovely and beautiful and wow isn’t romance great?

Yeah, real life doesn’t work that way. There are ups and then downs that don’t become ups again. Ideas of your future with your partner are shattered out of nowhere. Oh, and there’s no jaunty soundtrack, either. In the real world, love hurts, but sometimes movies manage to give us those tough love lessons that we so desperately need to hear while simultaneously wanting to avoid. And yes, this is done in movies that don’t just end in someone dying. Check out these eight movies with the best tough love lessons that you’ll want to watch this Valentine’s Day. Time for a reality check, folks.