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NETFLIX + CHILL: 4 Black Films to See This Weekend

When I say Netflix and chill I mean it literally. It’s the result of being an introvert with a serious passion for Black people and media. It’s a combination that has resulted in the viewing of a whole lot of films starring people of color thanks to the Netflix subscription I share with my best friend.

If you get an invite to a Netflix and chill session from me, or if I accept an invite, understand that it means we will be finishing the film.

Lately I’ve received a number of requests for Netflix recommendations and I’m always down to promote the amazing work of people of color. So the goal is to share a few films each week that I recommend checking out.

Let’s get started shall we?

1. Mississippi Damned626c7ae5ca322c9c613ece55e4927e7c

An actor friend of mine insisted I needed to see this. We were discussing Tessa Thompson and she promised if I wanted to see one of Thompson’s best performances I needed to see this indie. Written and directed by Tina Mabry, it’s the story of three Black kids in rural Mississippi, raised in poverty, amidst a generational cycle of addiction, violence, and abuse.

Each of the kids has more than enough potential to go with their dreams. The question is whether they’ll reach those dreams or if those generational curses will be too big of an obstacle to overcome. Tessa Thompson isn’t technically the star but she certainly steals the show with her performance.

Fun Fact: The film’s title is an ode to Queen Nina Simone’s controversial song, Mississippi Goddam!

2. Mooz-Lum

This one I discovered by accident. I’m forever searching Netflix for new projects starring people of color. I usually do this by searching the names of some of my favorite Black artists, which is how I landed on “Mooz-Lum.” Writer and director, Qasim Basir tells the story of a Black Muslim family, who’s son enters college confused, denouncing Islam, and a bit out of the loop socially due to his strict Muslim upbringing.

His parents, played by Nia Long and Roger Guenveur Smith, split early on leaving Evan Ross’ character Tariq to be raised by his strict and devoutly religious father while the mother raises the daughter with what appears to be more freedom. However, unintentionally, it echoes the idea that sheltering kids and forcing religion tends to backfire. This indie is much deeper and more layered than that though. It’s a great portrait of being Black, Muslim, and american after 9/11. Even more Evan Ross’ performance is stellar, which was a hugely pleasant surprise.

 

3. PariahPariah-Poster

“Pulsing with authenticity and led by a stirring lead performance from Adepero Oduye, “Pariah” is a powerful coming out/coming-of-age film that signals the arrival of a fresh new talent in writer/director Dee Rees.” That critical consensus is perhaps the best single-sentence to describe “Pariah” and why you need to see it.

I was super eager to see “Pariah” when it was making it’s way around the film festival circuit, mostly to see this Adepero Oduye I kept hearing so much about. Let me tell you, Oduye did not disappoint. She plays Alike, a teenage lesbian coming to terms with her own sexual identity in a family that is definitely not here for it. The best part about the film for me is what she says at the end, “I’m not running; I’m choosing.”

More than a coming out, coming-of-age story it’s a story of self-preservation–something every Black girl learns early on. Moreover, it’s a story about what self-preservation looks like on the margins and at the intersections of race, gender, class, sexual identity and more. #Self-Care

 

4. Dear White People

I had to add “Dear White People” if for no other reason than the fact that the previous three films are pretty heavy and after that you need something a bit lighter. #Self-Care.

It seems like the whole world knows this is one of my favorite films. Written and directed by Justin Simien, “Dear White People” presents an all-star ensemble cast including Teyonah Parris, Tessa Thompson, Tyler James Williams, and Brandon Bell.

As the official party line goes, “‘Dear White People’ is about Black faces in white spaces.” Surely you’ve heard of this film by now so I won’t get into the plot too much. If you haven’t seen it, you should know it’s layered and complicated, the humor is witty and the writing is smart, all of which is brought to you by excellent performances from some amazing Black actors.

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