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Our blog highlighting Film & TV news from our Global South diasporas, critiqued through our Soleil lens.

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Celine Song's directorial debut, Past Lives (2023) has already been nominated for Best Screenplay at several film festivals and film boards. Also wearing the writer’s hat, Song creates a semi-autobiography, inspired by her life that just happens to be a romance-drama. The narrative spans over a decade, following adventures and ultimate reunion of two childhood friends, Nora (Greta Lee) and Hae (Teo Yee). The journey of their reconnection poses questions on identity, purpose and destiny.

The film is a slow burn. It warms your heart while slowly breaking it apart. As a romance-drama, it does not follow the rules of the genre as there are no open displays of affection or even a heart-felt confession of love. What we see is a Korean-American immigrant woman grappling with a childhood version of herself and the more Americanized adult professional writer she is now. When Hae visits Nora in New York, Nora must confront the weight of her past life while living in her present reality — with a devoted husband, no less.

The immersive and honest dialogue encourages an investigation of self. Song creates a circumstance where all three characters reflect out loud on the paths they have taken, where they discover that their choices determine the people they become.

As someone who has migrated from her home country, I am particularly moved by Nora’s battle between her past identity in Korea and her life in the United States. This tension is further emphasized by the scenes with both her husband and Hae where the cinematography captures her existing between two worlds, moving between two languages, as she addresses both men.

The performances by all three actors are immaculate, as each sheds light on their internal life with sincere vulnerability. Each character experiences outwardly yet subtly the pains of love; viewers are forced to sit with the complexities of the human heart as they see that these characters are neither villains nor heroes, but humans searching for themselves, wherever they go.

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This independent film is based on the bestselling book Caste by Isabel Wikerson. It is an investigation into the pervading tragedy of humanity; the terror we bring upon ourselves.

This question is framed from the perspective of a Black female writer who seeks the answer to the question; “How did we get here?”. The character, who is based on Isabel herself, is driven by the innate curiosity of a true writer, and fostered by her love for those close to her who are slowly dropping one by one. She allows her deep sense of empathy to guide her as she interrogates the dark deeds of Trans-Atlantic slavery, the Holocaust, the caste system in India and the violent acts upon Black and Brown bodies still being perpetrated in the United States. She seeks to find the thread that connects them all.

The compelling cinematography takes us seamlessly through time and space through the lens of our protagonist. The visuals let us into not only what she sees but what she perceives from all the data gathered through writings or interviews. DuVernay brings us into the emotional life of Isabel who acts as our guide as she herself searches for truth.

Origin is a masterful tapestry of the turmoil that taints our humanity by exposing our repeated history of creating caste systems. This film is a sensitive exploration of our own self-inflicted destruction, yet it leaves us with a determination to adopt a new role as harbingers of our own fate, as we not only dream but forge a better world, a world without castes.

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Brother
Reviewed by Gabrielle Scott

Film Review: Brother

Brother (2023), by Clement Virgo, is an exploration of the very lineage from which he comes. In this dramatic feature, Virgo spotlights a Jamaican-Canadian family’s attempt to grapple with purpose, loss and social unrest. The film is a love letter to immigrants, particularly Caribbean immigrants and especially single parents.

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Pozole

Pozole

Pozole (2019) centers around the celebration of the matriarch of the family, Abuela, at both her birthday celebration and her subsequenting wake. This Mexican drama takes on a satirical comedic tone as it explores the dynamic within a family from the perspective of the black sleep; the Chicana (Mexican American), Maia.

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Xiaohui and His Cows
Reviewed by Gabrielle Scott

Film Review: Xiaohui and His Cows

Set in southwest China, in the wide expansive mountainous terrain of Guangxi, we visit the life of a lonesome nine year old, in Xiaohui and His Cows. The title character lives with his grandfather, a cow and her calf. The director, Xinying Leo, uses the story of this family to explore the negative impact of capitalism on the family unit.

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Reunion
Reviewed by Gabrielle Scott

Film Review: Reunion

Reunion (2023) by actor/filmmaker Zainab Jah tells a tale of two truths, a survivor and a perpetrator, both victims of a civil war. Created against the backdrop of the atrocities in Sierra Leone, this short film gives us a glimpse into the reality of the social interaction of refugees as they meet on the neutral grounds of New York City.

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Jamaal
Reviewed by Gabrielle Scott

Film Review: Jamaal

From its onset, Jamaal (2023), gives: refreshing, witty, funny and ‘melanin-poppin’. It was obvious to me before the credits started rolling that this short film could be none other than Yvonne Orji’s directorial debut. Orji decides to follow the title character on a day where his life changes in what seems to be an instant.

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American Fiction
Reviewed by Gabrielle Scott

Film Review: American Fiction

Cord Jefferson’s directorial debut was met with much anticipation at the opening night of Urban World 2023. The feature film, American Fiction (2023), set the right tone for what Urban World represents and embodies. We must tell our own stories; we must hold up a mirror to ourselves; we must fully understand ourselves before trying to explain ourselves to others.

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Divines
Reviewed by Gabrielle Scott

Film Review: Divines

Divines (2016) follows the transformative journey of a radical teenager, Dounia, in her pursuit of happiness in the streets of Paris, which ultimately leads to unimaginable pain. Written and directed by the female filmmaker, Uda Benyamina, Divines explores this pursuit from the female point of view, through the narrative’s direction and lead characters.

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Nina Wu
Reviewed by Nace DeSanders

Film Review: Nina Wu

Nina Wu is a 2019 psychological thriller from Taiwan. Written by Wu Ke-xi and Midi Z, and directed by Midi Z. The title character, Nina Wu is a seemingly normal woman who leaves her hometown and moves to the big city, Taipei, to make her dreams come true.

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Animals
Reviewed by Gabrielle Scott

Film Review: Animals

Animals (2023) is a short film by Jordan K Paul, set in Los Angeles, California.Through the examination of an incident involving two young men’s encounter with the police, the film deconstructs the notion of what makes a man into an animal.

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Sonatine
Reviewed by Nace DeSanders

Film Review: Sonatine

Sonatine (ソナチネ) is a Japanese yakuza (gangster) film from 1993. The 90’s are sometimes referred to as the second revival of Yakuza films that was made possible, partially by Takeshi Kitano. Also known as Beat Takeshi, he wrote, directed, edited, and starred in this award winning indie film.

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El Acompañante
Reviewed by Gabrielle Scott

Film Review: El Acompañante

Directed by Pavel Giroud, El Acompañante (2015) explores the struggle of fighting for one's life through the lens of an unlikely friendship between a disgraced boxing champion and an HIV positive patient.

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Sorry to Bother You
Reviewed by Nace DeSanders

Film Review: Sorry to Bother You

*Heavy Spoilers*

In his directorial debut, Boots Riley wrote and directed Sorry to Bother You, a 2018 American comedy. The film premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2018.

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The Harder They Fall
Reviewed by Gabrielle Scott

Film Review: The Harder They Fall

Fittingly characterized as a contemporary classic, The Harder They Fall (2021) is an unforgettable film brought to life through the eccentric lens of the one London composer-turned-filmmaker, Jeymes Samuel aka The Bullits.  A love letter to the Western genre and African diasporic culture, this film embodies the nostalgic elements of a classic Western while challenging established conventions and norms.

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Battle Royale
Reviewed by Nace De Sanders

Film Review: Battle Royale

Battle Royale (バトル・ロワイアル) is a 2000 Japanese action-thriller cult classic directed by Kinji Fukasaku and based on the novel by Koushun Takami. The film launched the careers of numerous middle school students who were scouted and cast in the film as first time actors. Both the novel and film were highly controversial.

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August Visitor
Reviewed by Gabrielle Scott

Film Review: August Visitor

In August Visitor (2023), Nigerian filmmaker/writer, Ifeyinwa Arinze, tells the story of a household of three women - a mother and her two daughters - delving into their different perspectives. . Since the death of her husband, the mother, a Nigerian immigrant, has taken on the sole responsibility of raising her two first generation daughters.

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After Yang
Reviewed by Nace DeSanders

Film Review: After Yang

After Yang is a 2021 American feature film adaptation of the novel "Saying Goodbye to Yang" by Alexander Weinstein. Written, directed, and edited by Kogonada, the Korean-American film video essayist turned filmmaker. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2021. After Yang is about grief, connection, and the implications of existing.

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The Truth About Alvert, the Last Dodo Bird
Reviewed by Gabrielle Scott

Film Review: The Truth About Alvert, the Last Dodo Bird

This comical short film is set on the island of Réunion of the Mascarene Islands. Directed by the charismatic Nathan Clement, The Truth About Alvert, the Last Dodo (2022) was featured in both the New York African Film Festival (2023) and BlackStar (2023) winning an honorable mention in the latter, as well as the hearts and laughter of the live audience.

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Sylvie's Love
Reviewed by Nace DeSanders

Film Review: Sylvie's Love

Written and directed by Eugene Ashe, Sylvie's Love is a 2020 American romantic drama. The film stars Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asomugha as romantic leads. Sylvie's Love premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2020. Though not a hugely popular film, those who watch it seem to love it. Sylvie’s Love currently holds a favorable 93% on rotten tomatoes.

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Huella
Reviewed by Gabrielle Scott

Film Review: Huella

The award-winning Dominican director/writer, Gabriela Ortega takes us on an ancestral journey in her short suspense-drama film, Huella (featured at Sundance 2022). The name itself (Footprint) sets the stage as the protagonist, Daniela, is jolted into a spiritual journey through the death of Abuela Leonara. She inhabits her grandmother’s body as she walks through the memory that began the generational curse for the women of the family. 

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The Red Phallus
Reviewed by Nace DeSanders

Film Review: The Red Phallus

Written and directed by Tashi Gyeltshen, The Red Phallus is a 2018 Bhutanese art-house drama . The film is entirely in Dzongkha, a Sino-Tibetan language that is the national language of Bhutan. The Red Phallus was well received by film festivals and critics around the world. However, it  was never released in Bhutan as the country’s censor board cut 12 minutes of the film and Gyeltshen simply would not release it edited in that way.

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Moshari
Reviewed by Gabrielle Scott

Film Review: Moshari

Moshari (2022) is a live-action horror film created by Nahush Hamayan, a Bangladesh-based filmmaker and 2022 Sundance Institute P. Sloan Fellow. This film acted as significant representation for Bangladesh, being the first film of the country nominated for an Oscar. It also received support from contemporary Oscar-award winning filmmakers Jordan Peele and Riz Ahmed as executive producers. 

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Fallen Angels

Fallen Angels

Fallen Angels is the 1995 crime-drama written and directed by world renowned Hong Kong Second Wave filmmaker, Wong Kar Wai. This film is one of many collaborations between him and Director of Photography, Christopher Doyle. It follows two men and two women; a hitman who wants to quit his job, his agent who is in love with him, a soon to be wed sex worker, and a helpful mute ex-convict. Their lives only occur at night and their intersection is the result of love and happenstance.

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The Bacchus Lady
Reviewed by Nace DeSanders

Film Review: The Bacchus Lady

The Bacchus Lady is a Korean drama written and directed by Je-yong Lee and starring the acclaimed Youn Yuh-Jung who has won a number of “Best Actress” awards for this role. The first few moments of the film set you up for excitement: aggravated assault, a runaway child, and an impatient elderly sex worker with gonorrhea.

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Heli
Reviewed by Nace DeSanders

Film Review: Heli

Written and directed by Amat Escalante, Heli is an independent Mexican crime drama. Heli premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival where Escalante won Best Director. The film was selected to represent Mexico at the 86th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film bu

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Medida Provisória
Reviewed by Nace DeSanders

Film Review: Medida Provisória

Directed by Lázaro Ramos, Executive Order is about a near-future Brazil where the government passes a law saying all citizens of African descent must return to Africa. We follow the underground movement of Black Brazilians who demand to stay in the only home they’ve known.

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Blog: The Evolving Debate on the Oscars' 'Best International Picture'
Blog: The Evolving Debate on the Oscars' 'Best International Picture'

Blog: The Evolving Debate on the Oscars' 'Best International Pict...

Somalia made its first ever Oscar submission with ‘The Gravediggers Wife’ and Tanzania entered for the first time in over 20 years with ‘Tug of War.’ Amid ongoing conversations about elevating stories from underrepresented groups, it’s interesting to see the Oscar submission news rise to the forefront of the many global accolades

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Blog: 'Wakanda Forever' Powerfully Puts The Black Diaspora In The Spotlight
Blog: 'Wakanda Forever' Powerfully Puts The Black Diaspora In The Spotlight

Blog: 'Wakanda Forever' Powerfully Puts The Black Diaspora In The...

The newest installment of the Black Panther series is set to release on November 11 - the first without its star, Chadwick Boseman, who privately fought and tragically died of cancer in 2020. The groundswell of loss and legacy are central to both the movie itself and to our anticipation of it.

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Blog: How Long Until We See Any Serious Dedication To The Latin-American Community?
Blog: How Long Until We See Any Serious Dedication To The Latin-American Community?

Blog: How Long Until We See Any Serious Dedication To The Latin-A...

The latest Hollywood Diversity Report by UCLA shows that Latin Americans represent nearly 19% of the U.S. population but only 7.1% of leading acting roles and 7.7% of overall film acting roles. Behind the camera, it’s worse, with Latin Americans accounting for just 5.6% of writers and 7.1% of directors.

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Step Aside, Bollywood: A New Era For Indian Cinema

Step Aside, Bollywood: A New Era For Indian Cinema

For a country that eats, sleeps, and speaks movies – and prays in temples when their favorite actor gets sick - Bollywood is nothing short of a religion for Indians. However, the industry is facing some serious backlash. With accusations ranging from nepotism to misrepresentation, India’s

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Blog: Celebrating a Decade of K-Pop's Rise to Global Dominance

Blog: Celebrating a Decade of K-Pop's Rise to Global Dominance

It's hard to believe it’s been a decade since the emergence of the popular Korean song PSY’s Gangnam Style, who taught his trademark horse-riding dance move to everyone from a child in India to then US President Barack Obama. If you had access to a computer, a television, or even just friends

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More Than Pretty Places To Film

More Than Pretty Places To Film

Hollywood tends to flatten the richness and nuance of every ethnic diaspora of color. The Caribbean in particular, though often visited and filmed in, is rarely depicted authentically on-screen, even though North America is one of the largest regions of the Caribbean diaspora.

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This API Month, Stark Reminder of How Far We Are From True Representation
This API Month, Stark Reminder of How Far We Are From True Representation

This API Month, Stark Reminder of How Far We Are From True Repres...

A new study by USC Annenberg’s Inclusion Initiative found that roughly 40% of all movies failed to depict an Asian character. The report also found there was no Pacific Islander represented in 94.2% of the films, and only 3.4% of the films had an API lead or co-lead.

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Are The Awards Shows Finally Getting Real About Representation?

Are The Awards Shows Finally Getting Real About Representation?

A late awards season is finally over, Hollywood (and the BAFTAs for that matter) showed gradual progress with racial, ethnic and gender inclusion - and CODA, the best picture winner, reminded viewers that disability is also diversity.

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Trapped Under the Ceiling

Trapped Under the Ceiling

The 24th annual "Celluloid Ceiling" report from San Diego State’s Center for the Study of Women in Television found just 12% of directors of 2021's top 100 films (US Box Office) were women, down from 16% the year before.

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Sony & EbonyLife First Look

Sony & EbonyLife First Look

Last month, big Hollywood players SONY Pictures made a big financial commitment to content creators from the Global South, with SONY making a First Look deal with EbonyLife, the top Nigerian production company, adding to EbonyLife’s deal with Netflix that was penned last year. The deal calls for all new EbonyLife-controlled

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Disney's Latest Mixes All South-East Asian Cultures

Disney's Latest Mixes All South-East Asian Cultures

Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon (pronounced “rye-ah”) is the sole South-East Asian Disney title and most kick-ass Asian original heroine we’ve seen since Mulan.

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To Virtual Or To Physical? Are Film Festivals Changing For The Better?
To Virtual Or To Physical? Are Film Festivals Changing For The Better?

To Virtual Or To Physical? Are Film Festivals Changing For The Be...

With the Omicron variant of the Coronavirus changing plans, pushing back awards season and stifling optimistic film festivals who had planned to resume their in-person events and screenings, most recently, last week’s Sundance Film Festival, who with extremely short notice, notified patrons it would not be hosting the festival in Park City after all.

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Will The Red Sea Film Festival Usher In a New Era For Saudi Film?

Will The Red Sea Film Festival Usher In a New Era For Saudi Film?

The Red Sea Film Festival is (not technically) the first in Saudi Arabia since the kingdom's ban on cinema was lifted in 2017, but was a historic nonetheless, and presented officially as a moment of change. Brighton 4th (Georgia)  took home the grand prize, and films from all over the region were screened over the first weeks of December.

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Michaela Coel Did So Much More Than Make History at The Emmys

Michaela Coel Did So Much More Than Make History at The Emmys

September means one big thing in Hollywood: The Primetime Emmys. While a record number of women and people of color were nominated, none won any of the acting categories (it took over 2 hours for a person of color to be recognized, when RuPaul Charles won for Drag Race for which RuPaul broke a record). While this is extremely frustrating, Michael Coel and I May Destroy You, nominated for 9, took home only 1 - for best writing.

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Afghanistan's Sahraa Karmi Visits the Venice Film Festival

Afghanistan's Sahraa Karmi Visits the Venice Film Festival

Afghan director Sahraa Karimi, the head of national cinema body Afghan Film, spoke at the Venice Film Festival about the plight of her home country. Karimi is well known at the Venice festival. Her drama Hava, Maryam, Ayesha premiered in 2019 in the Horizons sidebar.

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Cannes Makes Some Inroads in Inclusion

Cannes Makes Some Inroads in Inclusion

Cannes 2021 stepped up its pledge for inclusivity, with Spike Lee becoming the first Black person to head the festival jury.The jury consisted of 5 women and 3 men of 7 nationalities and 5 continents: Mati Diop, France and Senegal; Myléne Farmer, Canada and France; Maggie Gyllenhaal, United States; Jessica Hausner, Austria; Melanie Laurent, France; Kleber Mendonca Filho, Brazil; Tahar Rahim, France; Song Kang-Ho, South Korea. The Palme d’Or went to Julia Duncournau, the second woman ever to receive the prize. The Iranian film tied for Grand Prix awards, "A Hero" by Asghar Farhadi, is a gorgeous and empathic example of a film of the Global South that has earned international recognition.

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Emmy's Break Barriers For Diversity

Emmy's Break Barriers For Diversity

The Emmys took big steps forward in the march for minority representation and acknowledgment in film. Lovecraft Country became the first show to have actors nominated in every eligible acting category. Disney Plus’ “Hamilton” now has the second most nominations in the limited series/TV movie acting categories with seven. MJ Rodriguez made history as the first trans actress to be nominated in any major Emmy category. And a Soleil favorite, Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You, earned 9 nods.

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Nathalie Emmanuel on Lack of Female Faces in British Film

Nathalie Emmanuel on Lack of Female Faces in British Film

While Speaking to Essence about her latest film F9, Nathalie Emmanuel, whom most audiences will know as Missandei in HBO's Game of Thrones, addressed the discrimination within the British film industry that led many black and mixed-race actors to the United States. She also opened up about the effect her presence now has on girls of color, and her own past feelings.

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Comic Republic to Bring African SuperHeros to the World

Comic Republic to Bring African SuperHeros to the World

Nigeria’s Comic Republic, Africa’s largest publisher of independent comic books, recently signed a production deal with Emagine Content and JackieBoy Entertainment to adapt its catalog of African superheroes for film and TV. The companies’ hope through global distribution is to satisfy a massive worldwide demand for black superheroes on the silver screen, and to craft novel, compelling stories rooted in the awe-inspiring worlds of traditional African mythology, folktales, and culture.

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HollyWood Foreign Press Shares Updated Code of Conduct

HollyWood Foreign Press Shares Updated Code of Conduct

The Hollywood Foreign Press joins other entertainment heavy-hitters in releasing an updated Code of Professional and Ethical Conduct, following backlash against the Golden Globes group’s well-documented (and also admitted) lack of diversity. It states a commitment to diversity and inclusion, prohibits harassment, discrimination and retaliation.

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From Our Partners

Renee Robinson: “There was a longing to be useful” | Own words

Renee Robinson: “There was a longing to be useful” | Own words

Culture and creativity are our competitive advantage — yet we’re treating them like they’re not our most valuable assets. We’re a region of 45 million people; just the anglophone Caribbean is [six million].

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Soleil Space is the groundbreaking new SVOD you always wanted... and were afraid to ask!
Soleil Space is the groundbreaking new SVOD you always wanted... and were afraid to ask!

Soleil Space is the groundbreaking new SVOD you always wanted...

We are proud to help spread the word about the new SVOD platform launched by our friends at Soleil Space and have a special code to enjoy a free subscription for all our MIME readers. So join up, sit back and enjoy!

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The Soleil Short Film Saturdays x Third Horizon series continues

The Soleil Short Film Saturdays x Third Horizon series continues

The Soleil Short Film Saturday x Third Horizon series continues this November with No Entry from Jamaican filmmaker Kaleb D’Aguilar, set against the backdrop of Great Britain’s Windrush scandal; and Yolanda from Puerto Rican filmmaker Cristian Carretero, about a mother who takes the risk of

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The next Soleil Space x MIME Short Film Saturdays is a must watch!

The next Soleil Space x MIME Short Film Saturdays is a must watch!

Featuring two short films by Sudanese and Russian filmmaker Suzannah Mirghani, followed by a cool Q & A, the program will stream this Saturday, Sept. 17th at 12 PM EST on YouTube!

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What’s Happening Across the Region at Caribbean Beat Magazine

What’s Happening Across the Region at Caribbean Beat Magazine

Three, two, one — action! In Toronto, don’t miss the CaribbeanTales International Film Festival (7–23 September) and the Toronto International Film Festival (8–18 September), before heading to the trinidad+tobago film festival (22–28 September), and Grenada’s 1261 Film Festival

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MENA titles in the running for the European Film Awards

MENA titles in the running for the European Film Awards

Among them, the Iranian serial killer story 'Holy Spider', Palestinian helmer Maha Haj's 'Mediterranean Fever' and Tarik Saleh's 'Boy from Heaven'.

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“I was designed for that moment because of where I came from

“I was designed for that moment because of where I came from"

Trinidad-born Mishael Morgan on making Daytime Emmy history; living with purpose; and the power of storytelling — as told to Caroline Taylor

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Why You Need To Watch The Upcoming Soleil Space Short Film Saturday
Why You Need To Watch The Upcoming Soleil Space Short Film Saturday

Why You Need To Watch The Upcoming Soleil Space Short Film Saturd...

Once again, we have partnered with Soleil Space to bring two phenomenal women filmmakers to their Short Film Saturday series. Soleil Space is a media company based in Brooklyn, NY that centers and lifts the film and television creative communities of color around the world.

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Amir El-Masry joins 'The Crown'

Amir El-Masry joins 'The Crown'

The rising star British-Egyptian actor has been cast to play a young Mohamed al-Fayed, the billionaire, ex-owner of London's Harrods and father of Princess Diana’s lover Dodi

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When Images Speak: Backstory

When Images Speak: Backstory

For sibling filmmakers Audrey and Maxime Jean-Baptiste, their family history in French Guiana and historic image archives were equally important sources for their latest film project. Jonathan Ali learns more

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Global South Snippets

Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2024: Winners List - Variety

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American Black consumers: More diverse, demanding and reachable than ever - MarTech

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2024 SXSW Film Festival Unveils Diverse Lineup, Showcases High-Profile Features

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African Film Institute: Amelia Umuhire, Natacha Nsabimana, and Christian Nyampeta - e-flux

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Carl Weathers Dead: Rocky's Apollo Creed, Star Wars, Predator Actor Was 76

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Firefly' wins big at Manila International Film Festival 2024 | GMA Entertainment

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With this year's Oscar nominations, foreign-language films have gone mainstream - BBC

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International film fest headed to Ireland via 'The Quiet Girl' - Jacksonville Journal-Courier

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At Slamdance, a Utah film buff creates a shorts program around decolonization

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Blackstar Presents Short Film Showcase + Revival! - Travel Portland

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The 2023 Alliance Of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ) EDA Award Winners

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2024 Sundance Film Festival Names Jury Members

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Cari Beauchamp, who traced the powerful women of early Hollywood, dies at 74 - Washington Post

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The 5th Hainan Island International Film Festival opens - CGTN

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Shah Rukh Khan's Jawan nominated for best international film at ASTRA Awards 2024

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Oscars Eligibilty List: Animated, Documentary & International Feature - Variety

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Diverse Representation in Film Drives Moviegoers, Geena Davis Institute Study Shows

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Greta Gerwig’s ‘Barbie’ Led a Banner Year for Female Writers and Directors

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Predicting The Pivotal Role Of AI In Media And Entertainment - Forbes

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Making representation matter: New Mexico Asian Film Festival puts spotlight on APINH creators

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The Miami Museum Of Contemporary Art Of The African Diaspora Kicks Off SOUL BASEL Next Month

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Hollywood scrambles to restart TV and film production with strikes over - Axios

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Hollywood scrambles to restart TV and film production with strikes over - Axios

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First Nations Film and Video Festival showcases short films directed by Indigenous artists

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African Diaspora International Film Festival set for Nov. 24-Dec.10

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Muslim Women in Film: Amina Koroma - Amaliah

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Nigeria Submits Sundance Title 'Mami Wata' For Best Int'l Film Oscar - Deadline

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African Animation Takes MIA Spotlight - Variety

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SA film selected for international film festival - SAPeople - Worldwide South African News

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Writers Strike Over As WGA Members Ratify New Studio Contract - Deadline

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Hollywood's minority writers fear diversity to fall farther down the agenda after strike

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Savannah Film Festival 2023 To Feature First Look At ‘The Color Purple,’ Screenings of ‘Origin,’...

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Streaming services embrace inclusive content to expand audience base - Mint

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Tribeca Festival announces 2024 dates - Yahoo

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These South Asian films at TIFF 2023 put women's narratives front and centre | Vogue India

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Hollywood is paying a steep price for never really figuring out the streaming model - CNBC

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Hollywood strikes don't address unique challenges faced by Canadian BIPOC creators

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Films Made by Women Are on the Rise at U.S. Film Festivals - Variety

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Film Academy Names 2023 Gold Fellowship for Women Recipients - TheWrap

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See all the nominees of first-ever National Film and TV Awards South Africa | Life - News24

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Ava DuVernay 'Origin' Interview: Venice Film Festival Q&A - Deadline

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Tony Leung Wins Lifetime Achievement Award at Venice Film Festival - Radii China

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Korea Selects Disaster Epic 'Concrete Utopia' For Best International Film Race

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Taika Waititi Challenges Hollywood's Perception of Diversity and Calls for Authentic Representation

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USC study reveals Hollywood studios are still lagging when it comes to inclusivity - NPR

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Ghana To Host Inaugural Summit On African Cinema - Deadline

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It’s time to rethink our relationships with streaming services - The Verge

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Streaming Climbs to Record High in July, Linear TV Falls Below 50%, according to Nielsen's July 2023 Report...

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Are Streaming Services Retiring Cinema Culture in Nigeria?

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Hong Kong Summer International Film Festival 2023: 10 must-sees, including Past Lives, Back Home with...

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Emmy Awards Postponed Amid Actor and Writer Strikes - The Hollywood Reporter

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'A troubling pattern': has Hollywood given up on pushing for diversity?

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BBC Exceeds Creative Diversity Commitment Target as Original Content Spend Crosses $2 Billion

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BlackStar Film Festival returns next month with 93 film screenings at three Philly theaters

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SAG-AFTRA Approves 39 Indie Projects to Shoot During Strike, Including Two A24 Films

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The Big Ticket: New Paradigm Shifts In African Cinema - Forbes Africa

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Emmys Diversity Report: Pedro Pascal Makes Latino History, Black Women Set Acting Record

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Black Women Executives Are Exiting Studio Leadership Posts and Hollywood’s Doing Nothing About It

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Wet Leg, Sudan Archives and More Win Big at 2023 A2IM Libera Awards

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Disabled Actors Are Center Stage in Indie Film ‘Daruma’

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Soleil Selects

Each month we share our content recommendations from around the Global South diasporas!

Soleil Selects: Bride and Prejudice

Directed by Gurinder Chadha, Bride and Prejudice is a 2004 romantic comedy-drama. The film is a modern day Bollywood-style adaptation of Jane Austen's 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice and sure to be an instant classic for any family that watches.

Soleil Selects: The Raid: Redemption

The Raid: Redemption is an Indonesian action thriller from 2011. It has been the blueprint for every action film that has come out since around the world. Written, directed and edited by Gareth Evans and starring Iko Uwais, the film’s premise is simple and execution incomparable. In it, the Indonesian National Police tactical squad must fight their way through a complex full of a drug dealer’s henchmen. The film specializes in action scenes so tense, it feels like a horror movie. With expert martial arts and dynamic camera work, The Raid forces you to take a deep breath in and not exhale until the credits roll.

Soleil Selects: Minari

Minari is a 2020 American drama written and directed by Lee Isaac Chung. The film premiered at Sundance in 2020 to worldwide critical acclaim. Minari consists of semi-autobiographical excerpts from Chung's upbringing. Minari shows the story of a family of South Korean immigrants pursuing the American dream in 1980’s rural America. The family endures what seems like and surely felt like endless trials and hardships in the pursuit of happiness and success. Minari touches on themes of family, belonging, and perseverance with the one of the best film scores of the decade in the foreground throughout. Minari is a must-watch assuming you have a box of tissues nearby.

Soleil Selects: Les Misérables

Les Misérables is a 2019 French thriller film directed by Ladj Ly. The film is based on the true story of the police brutality which took place in the aftermath of the 2018 FIFA World Cup which Lady Ly personally witnessed. The film is notably a reference to the 1862 novel of the same name which also took place in the commune of Montfermeil in France. Les Misérables follows multiple perspectives as the police’s attempted intervention in a petty theft case spirals out of control. Members of the community become increasingly involved as the police’s encroachment in the commune becomes more and more unwelcome. Les Misérables is a tense but beautiful narrative worth inspiring revolution.

Soleil Selects: Chevalier

Chevalier (2022) is an American biographical drama based on snippets from the life of the French-Caribbean musician, Joseph Bologne. Directed by Stephen Williams and written by Stefani Robinson, the film premiered at theToronto International Film Festival in 2022. Joseph Bologne, the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, has an extremely interesting story that has been intentionally buried in the past along with many other stories of Black excellence. Chevalier’s story is one that needs to be seen and enjoyed.

Soleil Selects: Canvas

Frank E Abney III’s animated short Canvas (2020), pulls on your heart strings while igniting one's love for both animation and paintings. Following the story of an artist, the texture and tone of the film has the likeness of a canvas; exploring the layers of love through loss, while uncovering what remains after having loved and lost: legacy. The animators bring to life Black characters from the texture of their hair to their rich skin tones. The animation style highlights their facial features while uniquely embodying the underrepresented beauty of Blackness. It is no wonder the film won the first NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Animated Short.

Soleil Selects: Love and Other Cults

Love and Other Cults is a Japanese comedy drama directed by Eiji Uchida. The story follows Ai, a lost young girl raised in a cult, and Ryota, a stoic and troubled young boy. Both without family or a place in the world, their odd friendship forged through their unique circumstances, holds the story together. Full of colorful characters and exciting subplots, Love and Other Cults portrays those on the fringes of Japanese society with sensitivity, empathy, and humor. Though not an easily understood narrative for those unfamiliar with Japanese culture, the film is wonderful for those already familiar with the Japanese modern cultural landscape. Love and Other Cults is a unique piece of art.

Soleil Selects: A Naija Christmas

In true Nollywood fashion, A Naija Christmas (2021) is vibrant and upbeat, with a large dose of comical melodrama. As Netflix’s first Nigerian Christmas movie, director Kunle Afolayan leaves nothing to be desired in this romantic comedy of tangled webs, twists and turns. Taking place in Lagos, Nigeria, preceding Christmas Day, three sons must do a seemingly  impossible task to gain their inheritance - get married by Christmas. Afolayan masterfully uses rom-com tropes and the heightened culture to speak to class, gender, faith and love. Inviting us into the heart of Naija’s duality, Afolayan explores the complexities of love , deceit, ambition and faith, skillfully leveraging the rhythms of both afrobeat and gospel.

Soleil Selects: A Werewolf Boy

A Werewolf Boy (늑대소년) is a 2012 South Korean fantasy romance directed by Jo Sung-hee. The film mirrors traditional historic romances but with a modern horror twist. In the film, a teenage girl in bad health is sent to the countryside to get well. There she meets and befriends a feral boy in the woods. Gentle, sweet, and protective, the boy seems more like a dog… or a wolf? The film broke records at the box office becoming the most financially successful Korean melodrama of all time. Perfect for fans of k-dramas and that Korean brand of romance, drama, and loveable cheesiness, A Werewolf Boy is guaranteed to have you laughing and crying.

Soleil Selects: Dangal

Dangal (2016) by Nitesh Tiwari is not only the highest-grossing Hindi/Indian film but a feel good sports film based on the true story of the Phogat sisters and their father Mahavir Singh Phogat. Tiwari explores the life of the father, a former wrestling champion who, having failed to achieve ultimate success and to produce a male heir of a son, turned to training his daughters as professional wrestlers. Dangal explores love for country, for family, tenacity and triumph against extreme odds. Through the rhythmic editing of the fight scenes combined with the beautiful landscape and music that is India, one is inspired and motivated to fight for their dreams.

Soleil Selects: Ikari

Rage (怒り) is a 2016 Japanese drama film directed by Lee Sang-il, based on a mystery novel of the same title by Shuichi Yoshida's mystery novel of the same name. The film follows three separate stories each connected via a murder that takes place in suburban Tokyo. Each story follows a man who may be the murderer. Each story is filled with suspense, mystery, and anguish. The narratives display unhealthy connections between people, assault, hurt, and of course, rage. Rage is not a light or easy film to watch but it is a beautiful and important story.

Soleil Selects: A Wu-Tang Experience: Live At Red Rocks Amphitheatre

For those who missed the Wu-Tang Clan movement during their formative years , save for a few hits, A Wu-Tang Experience: Live At Red Rocks Amphitheatre does its due diligence by transporting its audience back to the heart of what is Wu-Tang and the essence of its movement. Under the direction of Gerald K. Barclay and the legendary RZA, and through the weaving together of interviews and moments featuring the Clan, fans and footage of live performances, the film simultaneously ignites a fire to “bun down Babylon” while also promoting a sense of unity that bridges gaps with genuine allies. This sentiment is reflected in the incorporation of classical music and the diverse fan base that spans generations. I was left with the same sentiment I experienced after one of Common’s live performances - that HipHop can save the world. The music acts not only as a subject but also a pulse that connects you to the people both on and off the stage.

Soleil Selects: Comprame un Revolver

Directed by Julio Hernández Cordón, Buy Me a Gun (Cómprame un Revólver) is a 2018 Mexican indie drama. In an alternate timeline version of Mexico, only boys and men are left as all the women have been rounded up and taken away by the cartel. A hapless baseball field caretaker disguises his young daughter as a boy to protect her. The two maneuver the apocalyptic, violence filled landscape with the help of the other little boys who play in the baseball field. Buy Me a Gun is whimsical yet disheartening work that transports the audience to a dystopian nowhere land where the child’s perspective is most important to the narrative. Buy Me a Gun is a brilliant work that needs to be seen by more people!

Soleil Selects: Cheese

Damian Marcano leaves his mark again with his bold independent filmmaking, showcasing his latest classic, (2022). Set on the twin isle of Trinidad and Tobago, this riveting, gritty narrative drama is authentically ‘Trini’,putting on display the vibrant colors of the island and the colorful language of the paradoxically gritty yet charismatic characters. The film follows perilous adventures of the hustler-turned-entrepreneur, Skimma, who has long dreamed of leaving the island. Marcano allows us to not only dream alongside Skimma, but to also root for him through every bad decision. As someone who grew up on the north coast of the island, it was nostalgic to revisit what Trinis often refer to as “behind God back”.

Soleil Selects: The Host

In 2006’s phenomenal South Korean monster film, The Host, a giant mutant fish monster leaps from the Han river to terrorize citizens and kidnap children. Directed by Bong Joon-ho, the film broke the record for the highest-grossing South Korean film at the time. The film splits its runtime between a two kids trying to escape the monster’s den in the sewers and a family’s oafish yet valiant attempts to find and save them. Like all of Bong Joon-Ho’s work, the film beautifully balances all genres: horror, comedy, drama, thriller, and even action. The Host is the perfect film to watch this spooky season.

Soleil Selects: Kinto

Set on the island of Jamaica, Kinto is a heart wrenching snippet of the life of a street urchin’s hustle to simply feed himself to survive. Written and directed by Joshua Paul, the visuals capture the moment to moment desperation, resilience and compassion of this young boy who has not given up, even though all the odds are against him. The short film leaves one feeling distraught for his circumstances and undeserving of your own.

Soleil Selects: Zola

Zola is a 2020 American crime-comedy film directed by Janicza Bravo. The entire film is based on a viral twitter thread from 2015 that later led to a Rolling Stone article. Zola follows Aziah, a stripper who befriends a new girl at the club she frequently works at. This new girl invites Aziah to a trip out of state for a short period to strip at other clubs. Aziah quickly gets tangled up in a terrifyingly real and dangerous sequence of events. The film expertly moves between the severity and the comedic irony of the circumstances Aziah finds herself in. Zola’s portrayal of sex-work and the people who find themselves in that world is fair and does not take on a misogynistic undertone. Zola, full of larger than life characters, humor, and excitement, is a must-watch.

Soleil Selects: The Pit

Set in a farming village in Kenya, Shimoni (The Pit), directed by Angela Wamai, delves deep into the confines of the uneasy mind of the protagonist, Geoffrey. Recently released from serving seven years in prison, Geoffrey finds himself in a new confinement - a village that harbors both the memory and perpetrator of a childhood trauma. The deliberate slow pace and grim lighting of the film compels the audience to feel the ominous and relentless sense of dread stemming from Geoffrey’s haunting past. Though he himself is a villain in someone else’s story, Angela encourages us to empathize with what makes a man into a monster.

Soleil Selects: Green Frontier

Green Frontier (Frontera Verde) is a 2019 Colombian crime thriller miniseries, created by Diego Ramírez Schrempp, Mauricio Leiva-Cock, and Jenny Ceballos. Green Frontier introduces itself as a classic young detective story with elements of magical realism. The story takes place in the Colombian jungle, the birthplace of magical realism itself. However, the magic and mystery of the jungle dominate the story as the only answer to a string of bizarre murders in the area, seems to be related to a long-held secret of the jungle held by the indigenous tribe that lives nearby.

Soleil Selects: Esteban

Set in Cuba, Jonal Cosculluela’s first feature film, Esteban explores the world of a nine year old boy who desperately desires to learn the piano. Being raised in a single-parent low-income home, learning piano is a luxury that his mother cannot afford and simply does not value. Esteban is persistent and forms an unlikely bond with an elderly former pianist who eventually agrees to be his teacher and mentor. This beautifully sensitive film is an intimate exploration of the disparity in opportunities for the haves and the have nots while highlighting the uniting power of music.

Soleil Selects: Wife of a Spy

Wife of a Spy is a 2020 Japanese historical mystery/thriller written and directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. More akin to historical drama than thriller, Wife of a Spy showcases expert filmmaking and is a glimpse into life in 1940s Japan.

Set in 1940s Kobe, Japan, the film centers around a local merchant/ amateur filmmaker and his wife, Satoko. With World War II as the backdrop, we follow the difficult decisions and tests of loyalty Satoko endures when she discovers her husband is a spy for the United States. During a time where betraying the country meant betraying the Emperor, a treasonous act such as becoming a spy was a huge deal. Despite this premise being ripe for political commentary, Kurosawa intentionally avoids inserting any opinion into the narrative and instead sticks to unemotionally presenting historical facts as the backdrop.

Soleil Selects: Bone Black: Midwives vs. the South

Imani Dennison effectively harnesses her expertise in political science and photography in her experimental documentary, Bone Black: Midwives vs. the South, which won her the Best Short Documentary award at BlackStar Film Festival 2023.

In their uncovering of the history of midwifery for Black women in America, Dennison exposes the impact that systematic racism had on the birthing process of Black bodies, while revealing the legitimacy of the multi-generational midwife practice passed on and safeguarded by African American women. Through the marriage of experimental dance and documentation, Dennison exposes the reality that there is still a war on Black bodies today.

Soleil Selects: Bad Genius

Directed by Nattawut Poonpiriya, Bad Genius, a 2017 Thai thriller, was an instant hit, the highest-grossing Thai film of 2017. An exciting story inspired by true events of students cheating on international exams, the film uses an over-the-top heist style to depict high school students helping each other cheat. Bad Genius is about Lynn, a top-tier student attending a prestigious school on scholarship. In an attempt to earn money, she begins allowing other students to copy her schoolwork, even devising elaborate systems of note-passing, hand signals, and other covert signs to help other students pass. The stakes are raised when students ask Lynn to help them cheat to pass the STIC, an international standardized test required for university admissions. In a final score, Lynn agrees to help them in exchange for millions of baht (Thai currency).

Soleil Selects: Tsotsi

Set in Johannesburg, South Africa, Gavin Hood’s Tsotsi draws us into the world of the gang leader, Tsotsi. The opening sequence of tight shots of a dice roll within a group gambling game highlight the overarching theme in the life of Tsotsi. Everyday is a gamble. The narrative explores an accidental robbery that becomes a life changing event in the life of our protagonist. Within the context of apartheid, where there is a wide disparity between the rich and the poor, this disenfranchised youth steals a wealthy woman’s car unaware that her baby is in the backseat. When Tsotsi eventually confronts this child he is ultimately forced to confront himself.

Soleil Selects: Y Tu Mamá También

Y Tu Mamá También is a 2001 Mexican film directed by Alfonso Cuarón. The indie launched the careers of Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal as well as Maribel Verdú, breaking records at the time with the highest box office opening weekend ever in Mexican cinema. It's a coming-of-age story, a raunchy romantic comedy, and a road trip movie wrapped neatly in one package. Set in 1999, in the background we learn about the socio-political and economic actuality of Mexico at the time. Through a modern day lens looking back, all the “sex” in this film is highly inappropriate (to put it mildly). The film remains a modern classic of Mexican cinema, an early display of Alfonso Cuarón’s distinct style, and an all-around enjoyable film. The bittersweet ending has the viewer looking back on the events of the film with the same fondness as the characters.

Soleil Selects: Go Fishboy

Go Fishboy is an animated short film of a young boy finding his purpose.

Set in China, and led by a team of directors, this allegorical short explores the very different perspectives on fish by a father and son. The father is a highly decorated sushi chef training his son to follow in his footsteps, but his son is convinced that he himself is a fish. The directors make use of close ups and foley sounds to illuminate the vast ocean that separates the two generations.

Through the close shots, we get the father’s point of view as he meticulously chops the fish with precision. This is juxtaposed with the son focusing on the face of the fish. The father’s chopping is loud and crisp, jarring us as the viewer. Whereas the scenes with the son alone are filled with the sound of water, creating a sense of tranquility. We the viewer are encouraged to sympathize with the boy’s empathy for fish through these filmic tools, leaving us to perhaps question if our choices have been our own or the desires of our parents.

Watch this film

Soleil Selects: Good Manners

Good Manners (Portuguese: As Boas Maneiras) is a 2017 fantasy horror film from Brazil. Written and directed by Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra, the film was a festival favorite around the globe. It premiered at the 70th Locarno International Film Festival, where it won the Special Jury Prize.

Good Manners follows Clara, the new housekeeper and nanny for a pregnant wealthy woman. We follow their relationship as they go from strangers to friends to lovers. After an unusual and difficult pregnancy, the baby is finally born. Baby Joel, now in Clara’s care, is not totally human but a werewolf. As Joel grows, Clara goes from hiding and suppressing his werewolf nature to embracing it.

Good Manners ensures the viewer does not know what’s coming next. It is not a narrative with twists, turns, and scares in the traditional sense but it is a story that most audiences will not have seen before. It feels fresh and new and as such we get to follow the story without already knowing what the next scene brings. This unconventional creature feature is a must watch.

Soleil Selects: K-Town Killer

Featured in Tribeca Film Festival (2023), K- Town Killer, follows a young woman and her mother spending an afternoon together where they both discover that they’re holding secrets from the other. The short narrative action-drama based in the United States, explores the generational gap between a mother and daughter, specifically in regards to how they deal with conflict. It interrogates the cultural and gender norms of first generation Korean-American versus their immigrant parents.

The directors, Vahan Bedelian and Healin Kweon, impactfully utilize cinematic techniques to build the climax of the final fight, where the daughter (a professional fighter) avenges her mother. The directors capture not only the adrenaline experienced in the fight through rhythmic editing, but use the cinematography to cue us into why she fights. Though she fights her mother’s aggressor in a parking lot, in her head she’s back in the ring, back in the space where her gender and ethnicity hold no barriers once she can hold her own within the barriers of the ring.

The juxtaposition between the mother and daughter verbally fighting, the mother’s refusal to defend herself against the white male landlord, and the daughter physically fighting said landlord, allows the audience to enter into the psycho-physical experience of what has created the K-Town Killer.

Soleil Selects: Evil Eye

Evil Eye is an American supernatural horror film released in 2020 and directed by Elan and Rajeev Dassani. Evil Eye is executive produced by Jason Blum as a part of his Welcome to the Blumhouse initiative and by Priyanka Chopra of Purple Pebble Pictures. The film was written by Madhuri Shekar, based on her Audible Original audio play of the same title.

Our protagonist, Pallavi lives in the United States and keeps in close contact with her mother, Usha, who lives in Delhi. Being almost thirty years old, Usha makes it very clear that Pallavi’s single-status is of concern. Pallavi soon meets a seemingly perfect man, Sandeep. However, Usha will soon learn that Sandeep has a supernatural connection to her past coupled with bad intentions.

The film brings a more literal meaning to the term "generational curse” while also looking at the effects of gender based violence on women and how they parent their children. Evil Eye also addresses the worry women feel for their children and their children’s children potentially encountering gender based violence. Though these themes are touched on, they are not examined in any stretch. The film gives more run-time to plot and story than any thematic aspects. Considering the importance of the themes, more time should have been given to their exploration. Despite this, Evil Eye is a wonderful third addition to the Welcome to the Blumhouse anthology.

Soleil Selects: I Have No Legs, and I Must Run

Li Yue’s film I Have No Legs, and I Must Run tells the tale of the rigors of professional athleticism, granting it BFI London’s Short Film Winner 2022.

The China born director uses the juxtaposition of images of track athletes training within an arena, with that of pigs in a pen. Li combines footage of training, with nightmarish stream of consciousness scenes, taking us back and forth between reality and the psycho-state of the protagonist, who is fearful of being replaced by the new talent. He even at times switches out the images of the pigs for sounds, which he overlays with a dreamlike sequence of the men shirtless forming shapes with their bodies, conjoined as one organism, as one machine.

The filmmaker makes the bold statement that these athletes are being bred for slaughter.

Even in the closing scene as the athletes feast, the table is round just like an arena and pig pen, as the men very literally gorge on pork. Yue Li uses close ups on their mouths biting and chewing away at the flesh of the pig, paired with loud chewing sounds, creating a sense of our own flesh being eaten. This very visceral scene is shown through the gaze of the protagonist, whose greatest fear has come true. Due to his injury, he has been cut from the team.

The film elicits that to survive in a professional athletic arena, one must sacrifice their own body just as we sacrifice animals for consumption. That one’s worth in this world is measured by how well one can perform. The heavy use of imagery and very little dialogue, furthers the point that one's physique is what truly matters, as fresh meat meets stale meat.

Soleil Selects: Black Box

Black Box is a science fiction horror film released in 2020. Directed by Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour Jr. and written by Stephen Herman, the film was released as a part of the Welcome to the Blumhouse initiative by Jason Blum.

The film stars Mamoudou Athie as Nolan Wright, a single father who suffers from severe amnesia causing his 10 year old daughter, Ava to act like a mini-adult. In an attempt to regain control of his life and care for his daughter, Nolan opts for an experimental procedure that may help him regain lost memories through hypnosis. The process seems to work but with an odd side effect of seeing a monster within his own mind. However, the monster may be the least of his problems as Nolan comes to find that those helping him have their own motives.

Black Box takes a look at the process of grief and how it never leaves us. The film implores us to look around and question how we would be remembered if we were the ones to pass away. The narrative is full of twists and turns that a less-seasoned movie-goer would enjoy and be surprised by. If you’re an avid film watcher, you will see almost every twist coming. However, this does not make the film any less enjoyable. Black Box is imaginative and a welcome addition to the sci-fi horror genre.

Soleil Selects: Tito and the Birds (Portuguese: Tito e os Pássaros)

is a magical 2018 Brazilian animated film directed by Gabriel Bitar, André Catoto, and Gustavo Steinberg. Whimsical and eccentric, Tito and the Birds is an allegory for fear amongst the public and how the government and/or corporations seek to profit from it.

The main protagonist is Tito, a sweet 10-year-old boy living with his single mother. His father, a scientist, went missing years ago and is no longer in the picture. Suddenly, the mere feeling of fear produces a sickness that turns people into pigeons. Realizing the cure is within his late father’s research, Tito and his friends set out to find the cure and save the world.

The movie looks into the effects of mass panic, misinformation, and the greed of the elites who benefit from this chaos. Global tech giants made billions in profit during the global covid-19 pandemic. Anyone within a capitalist society will find an uncomfortable familiarity with the antagonistic forces within the film.

Tito and the Birds magnifies the stigma of pigeons in global society, treating them with a love and kindness they have not received in decades. Pigeons were once like dogs, useful to humans, even loved and cared for like pets. However, now they are shown a level of disdain only reserved for cockroaches and rats. Around the world, abuse of pigeons is normalized. People throw rocks at them or let their dogs chase them. It’s certainly cruel but feels especially brutal to do so to a species that has suffered a terrible betrayal by humans. Pigeons are docile, friendly, and when cared for - cute.

Tito and the Birds is a film that asks you to be brave and stand up against those in power while looking kindly upon those who never had any.

Soleil Selects: Time to Hunt

Sanyangeui sigan or Time to Hunt is a 2020 thriller written and directed by Yoon Sunghyun. In the near and dystopian future South Korea, financial crisis worsens the already apparent economic divide creating widespread slums. We follow a group of young men who steal from the mob in an attempt to leave their lives in poverty behind. With a cast of Korean heartthrobs like Lee Jehoon, Choi Woo-sik, and Park Hae-soo, one might expect much from this film. Just some cheesy action film for teens to see their favorite kdrama actor in, right? Wrong!

Soleil Selects: Gongdong Gyeongbi Guyeok JSA

Gongdong gyeongbi guyeok JSA or Joint Security Area is a mystery thriller film starring Lee Young-ae, Lee Byung-hun and Song Kang-ho. Directed by Park Chan-wook, this is one of Korea’s most influential films and for good reason. It’s exciting from start to finish with twists, turns, and expertly crafted tension. Hitchcock would have loved this movie.

Following a deadly shooting accident at the North/South Korean border, a neutral party is brought in to investigate. As the story of what really happened unfolds, we learn the story of a secret friendship formed across the border.

Soleil Selects: Lao Shi (Old Stone)

Lao Shi (Old Stone) is a 2016 psychological thriller written and directed by Johnny Ma as his directorial debut. Lao Shi brings the loopholes of Chinese bureaucracy, which values clarity for insurance purposes over human life, to light. In the film, a cab driver in China named Lao Shi (played by Chen Gang), accidently hits a motorcyclist. Lao Shi brings the victim to the hospital, an act for which he is severely punished by losing his job and being made responsible for the man’s hefty medical bills. Lao Shi is continuously punished for doing the right thing as he tries to get out of this mess without causing further harm.

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Soleil Selects: Rojo (Argentina)

Written and directed by Benjamín Naishtat, Rojo is a story of intense interpersonal conflict and repercussions. This arthouse black satire takes place in pre-coup d'etat Argentina. A successful and well-respected lawyer murders a stranger after a verbal altercation in a restaurant one night. He hides the body, but months later, a detective arrives in the town to investigate the stranger’s disappearance. There is a dark humor to Rojo that is best demonstrated during its tensest moments. It makes you say, “Oh, that just happened.” Rojo may be classified as a slow-burn artistic type of thriller.

Soleil Selects: Major

Major' is a biographical action film directed by Sashi Kiran Tikka, which took Indian audiences back to the dreaded 26/11 Mumbai attacks. It is a Malayalam language film inspired by the life of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, who was martyred in the 2008 city-wide attacks in Mumbai. 'Major' is a heart-wrenching true story that will take you closer to the brutality of the terrorists that took the entire country by shock and the plight of the hostages at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai, who didn't know if they or their families would step out alive from the famed hotel.

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Soleil Selects: Asian Americans

The PBS series Asian Americans is produced by Grace Lee (former Spotlight guest!)and lensed by frequent collaborator Jerry Henry. This one has been on my must-watch list since its debut in 2020 but now more than ever I feel even more compelled to watch so that I can start to better understand the past, present, and future of this vast group of Americans.  

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Soleil Selects: Yellow Cat

Yellow Cat is an oddball comedy written and directed by Adilkhan Yerzhanov. Yellow Cat is a uniquely Khazak brand of quirky and charming, where the Kazak landscape is a main feature. Kermek, an ex-con, is a dreamer and a bit of a fool and he knows it but this doesn’t stop him from making the worst decisions possible at all times. In an attempt to open up his own movie theater, Kermek steals from the mob and runs away with a sex worker that “belongs to them”, Eva. With no plan and no clue, Kermek and Eva go with the flow as the mob closes in on them.

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Soleil Selects: Ordinary People

Ordinary People is a perspective changing film from the Philippines, written and directed by Eduardo W. Roy Jr. Ordinary People centers around Jane and Aries, two young teenagers who are homeless living on the streets of Manila. They have a small child together and make a living stealing on the streets.

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Soleil Selects: Au nom du Christ Côte d'Ivoire

It’s about a poor pig farmer who, after having a vision, declares himself the “cousin of Christ” and the savior of his people. This film humorously brings viewers back to a time when pseudo-Christianity ran rampant across West Africa. Making bold statements on lore, modern change, power, and colonialism, Au nom du Chris is a classic of Côte d'Ivoire cinema. It’s very interesting to see what ideas, tropes, and archetypes are considered funny in another culture and time-period. There are plenty of people who find this film to be hilarious and it’s not hard to see why.

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