• MJ Fievre

The Badass Black Girl’s Movie List

Dear Badass Black Girl,


Here are 15 films that you should absolutely see.


These titles offer a creative take on our experiences, with messages of strength and perseverance. They explore the complexity of Black girlhood/womanhood⁠—how we see the world, ourselves, and each other.


Let's celebrate Black History Month by taking a look at these 15 memorable movies. Enjoy!


2019. Premature. NR. Directed by Rashaad Ernesto Green & Zora Howard.

On a summer night in Harlem during her last months at home before starting college, seventeen-year-old poet Ayanna (Zora Howard) meets Isaiah (Joshua Boone), a charming music producer who has just moved to the city. It's not long before these two artistic souls are drawn together in a passionate summer romance. But as the highs of young love give way to jealousy, suspicion, and all-too-real consequences, Ayanna must confront the complexities of the adult world--whether she is ready or not. Emotionally raw, intimate, and honest, Premature is at once timeless and bracingly contemporary in its portrait of a young woman navigating the difficult choices that can shape a life.


2019. Selah and the Spades. NR. Directed by Tayarisha Poe.

Five factions run the underground life of the prestigious Haldwell boarding school. At the head of the most powerful faction—The Spades—sits Selah Summers. By turns charming and callous, she chooses whom to keep close and whom to cut loose, walking the fine line between being feared and loved.


2018. Jinn. PG-13. Directed by Nijla Mu’min.

Summer is a 17-year old carefree black girl, whose world is turned upside down when her mother, a popular meteorologist named Jade Jennings, abruptly converts to Islam and becomes a different person, prompting Summer to reevaluate her identity.


2018. Solace. NR. Directed by Tchaiko Omawale.

Following the death of her father, a 17-year-old girl is sent to live with her estranged family and finds comfort in a questionable friendship with a self-destructive neighbor, leading both on a startling path to self discovery.


2018. I Am Not a Witch. NR. Directed by Rungano Nyoni.

After a banal accident in her village, Shula, an eight-year-old girl, is accused of witchcraft. After a quick trial, she is found guilty and locked up in a witches' camp.


2014. Belle. PG. Directed by Amma Asante.

Belle is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay (Matthew Goode). Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson), Belle's lineage affords her certain privileges, yet her status prevents her from the traditions of noble social standing. While her cousin Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) chases suitors for marriage, Belle is left on the sidelines wondering if she will ever find love. After meeting an idealistic young vicar's son bent on changing society, he and Belle help shape Lord Mansfield's role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in England. (c) Fox Searchlight


2012. Yelling to the Sky. NC-17. Directed by Victoria Mahoney.

As her family falls apart, seventeen year old Sweetness O'Hara is left to fend for herself in a neighborhood where her survival is uncertain.


2009. Mississippi Damned. TV-MA. Directed by Tina Mabry.

Once family's tragic cycle of abuse, addiction, and violence leaves three poor black siblings from rural Mississippi with a choice between confronting the curse that's plagued their family for generations, and succumbing to the grim fate that threatens to seal their legacy in this drama from first time feature filmmaker Tina Mabry.


2000. Love & Basketball. PG-13. Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood.

A young African-American couple navigates the tricky paths of romance and athletics in this drama. Quincy McCall (Omar Epps) and Monica Wright (Sanaa Lathan) grew up in the same neighborhood and have known each other since childhood. As they grow into adulthood, they fall in love, but they also share another all-consuming passion: basketball. They've followed the game all their lives and have no small amount of talent on the court. As Quincy and Monica struggle to make their relationship work, they follow separate career paths though high school and college basketball and, they hope, into stardom in big-league professional ball. Love and Basketball was the first feature film for writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood, who previously helmed several comedy specials for Dave Chappelle. Spike Lee co-produced. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi


1998. Down in the Delta. PG-13. Directed by Maya Angelou.

Rosa Lynn sends her druggie daughter Loretta and her children Thomas and Tracy away from the big city to live with their uncle Earl in the ancestral home in rural Mississippi. Earl puts Loretta to work in his restaurant, Just Chicken, while also telling them about the generations of their family, the Sinclairs, dating back to their time in slavery before the the Civil War.


1997. B*A*P*S. PG-13. Directed by Robert Towsend.

Two waitresses from Decateur, Georgia hit Tinseltown in hopes of fulfilling their dream of opening a restaurant/beauty salon and instead become close friends with an ailing and lonely millionaire who takes them shopping and teaches them social graces. The B*A*P*S (Black American Princesses) in turn restore his will to live.


1994. Crooklyn. PG-13. Directed by Spike Lee.

Spike Lee and his siblings Cinque Lee and Joie Lee co-wrote this nostalgic but unglamorized look at a family growing up in Brooklyn in the 1970s, inspired by their own childhood. Woody Carmichael (Delroy Lindo) is a jazz musician whose career is in a slump; he once made a good living as a session musician, but he has moved away from it to devote himself to more serious music, a choice that has not worked out well from a financial standpoint. His wife Carolyn (Alfre Woodard) works as a school teacher to keep food on the table. The Carmichaels have five children, a bright and introspective daughter named Troy (Zelda Harris) and four sons with a habit of causing trouble, and they all share an apartment in a brownstone in Brooklyn. Crooklyn follows the Carmichaels as the kids learn the funny and painful lessons of growing up, Mom and Dad balance their love for each other against the financial and personal difficulties of the creative life, and they all try to get along with the often eccentric neighbors on their block. Crooklyn's soundtrack is enlivened by classic 70s R&B hits, including selections by Sly and the Family Stone, The Jackson Five, Curtis Mayfield, The Staple Singers, and The Chambers Brothers.


1994. Alma’s Rainbow. NR. Directed by Ayoka Chenzira.

An African-American girl living in Brooklyn comes of age in this comedy-drama. The story's unique twist is that the girl is influenced by a variety of role-models. Rainbow is at an awkward stage of early adolescence. She is too old to play in the streets and too young to date. She is not sure she is ready to grow up. Her prim mother owns a beauty salon. She is not much help to Rainbow. When her sister Ruby surprises them with a visit from Europe, the mother's reserve is easily explained. When the sisters were young both of them tried to become professional singers. They separated when Alma, Rainbow's mom, got pregnant. Ruby went on to have a successful career in Parisian nightclubs impersonating Josephine Baker. Ruby's presence in the lives of the mother and daughter brings them back to life. Her mother begins to rediscover love, and Rainbow becomes inspired to begin experimenting with boys and adulthood.


1991. Daughters of the Dust. TV-PG. Directed by Julie Dash.

t the dawn of the 20th century, a multi-generational family in the Gullah community on the Sea Islands off of South Carolina - former West African slaves who adopted many of their ancestors' Yoruba traditions - struggle to maintain their cultural heritage and folklore while contemplating a migration to the mainland, even further from their roots. Cohen Media Group is proud to present the 25th anniversary restoration of director Julie Dash's landmark film "Daughters of the Dust." The first wide release by a black female filmmaker, "Daughters of the Dust" was met with wild critical acclaim and rapturous audience response when it initially opened in 1991. Casting a long legacy, "Daughters of the Dust" still resonates today, most recently as a major in influence on Beyonce's video album "Lemonade." Restored (in conjunction with UCLA) for the first time with proper color grading overseen by cinematographer AJ Jafa, audiences will finally see the film exactly as Julie Dash intended.


1975. Mahogany. PG. Directed by Berry Gordy.

An ambitious beauty, rising from a Chicago 'hood, becomes a rich, deliciously decadent international supermodel. But, she soon learns that la dolce vita isn't what it's cracked up to be from the likes of a twitchy bisexual photographer before finding redemption with straight- arrow politician.


BONUS

2019. Hair Love. NR. Directed by Matthew A. Cherry, Everett Downing Jr., and Bruce W. Smith.

A father tries to do his daughter's hair for the first time.


What's on YOUR list?


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Read more in Badass Black Girl: Quotes, Questions, and Affirmations for Teens


Publishers Weekly Select Title for Young Readers ─ A Daily Dose of Inspiration for Badass Black Girls


Explore the many facets of your identity through hundreds of big and small questions. MJ Fievre tackles topics such as family and friends, school and careers, body image, and stereotypes in this journal designed for teenage girls. By reflecting on these topics, readers confront the issues that can hold them back from living their lives.


Embrace authenticity and celebrate who you are. Finding the courage to live as you are is not easy, so here’s a journal designed to help readers nurture their creativity, self-motivation, and positive self-awareness. This journal celebrates girl power and honors the strength and spirit of black girls.


Change the way you view the world. This journal provides words of encouragement that seek not just to inspire, but to ignite discussion and debate about the world. Girls, especially, are growing up in a world that tries to tell them how to look and act. MJ Fievre encourages readers to fight the flow and determine for themselves who they want to be.


Reading Badass Black Girl: Quotes, Questions, and Affirmations for Teens will help you:

  • Build and boost your self-esteem with powerful affirmations.

  • Learn more about yourself through intensive and insightful journaling.

  • Resist the mold that outside opinions have put into place, and become comfortable and confident in embracing your authentic self.

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© 2019 by MJ Fievre