Despite it's February release, stills from short film directed by the first African-American woman to be awarded the Best Director Prize at Sundance, Ava DuVernay, seem to only now be circulating on Tumblr. Nonetheless, in collaboration with Miu Miu for their "Women's Tale" series, DuVernay brings together Gabrielle Union, Adepero Oduye, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Goapele, and Alfre Woodward together to create a nine minute silent film focusing on "the transformative power of feminine bonds" in "a symbolic story of life change".
With what appears to be the ending of an engagement, the main character (played by Union) falls into a depression, a slump that she can't shake no matter how well she appears. Through each scene she is well dressed and coiffed, but it is very obvious that she does not have the same amount of structure emotionally. Apparently still in shock when her first friend (Oduye) arrives, she is apathetic towards her as she moves around the house trying to bring some light into. Despite her attitude, she still makes an effort to bring our protagonist out of her shell, dragging her to go eat when she finds nothing in the fridge. Days later when the second friend arrives (Corinealdi), her silent protesting falls on deaf ears and she's persuaded to go out dancing. While on the dance floor, she has no flashes of herself in her wedding dress, but warms up to the music and spends the night dancing and laughing. With the third friend's arrival, she greets her (Goapele) with a warm smile and is given tickets to her concert. She does manage to slip back into flashbacks of her engagement, but it is momentary as the crowd's vibe reels her out of her thoughts. Finally, leaving on her own accord, she goes to visit the oldest of her friends or possibly a family member (Woodward), who is surprised to see her. Conversing over tea, Union finds a new standing in life and seems to finally be a step closer to walking out "the door" of her depression. In the final scene, it is cut back to Union's home where she pulls off her ring and places it back in its box before leaving.
This was released on YouTube three days before Valentine's Day, a holiday recognized worldwide as a day for romance and lovers, seemingly done on purpose. The last time I saw something play out like this was in the Destiny's Child music video for "Girl". At an obvious point in her life where everything should be coming together, the only thing Union appears to be "missing" (because partnering is not a necessity for everyone) to go along with her group of friends, well made attire, and gorgeous home, is someone to share everything with. Now unfortunately, for reasons we know nothing of, Union is once again single and it has placed her in a slump. This might not be a huge production, but still when was the last time you saw a black woman as the main focus of a story, suffering from depression? Things that are deemed "white girl problems" such as eating disorders, depression, anxiety disorders, and other mental health disorders, are downplayed and commonly swept under the rug. Within an immediate circle of friends, I can already name more than ten of them, all women of colour, who have at one point or another have had a battle with one of these problems and suffered completely alone for years. Hushed by families (usually well meaning mamas who inadvertently do not acknowledge said issues, instead ignoring or shushing problems further into us) and without the network for professional help considering the stigma and lack of proper monitoring from early on within urban communities, the only people left to rely on are friends. Some argue that blogging remained a better outlet providing its anonymity, making it a platform for actual honesty, but the fact still remains that "the internet is [usually] a horrible place to validate your feelings because someone is always waiting to validate their 'superiority'." That is where actual physical bonds with likeminded people take precedent.
Labels: commentary, film, internet happenings