Picks of the Week is Women and Hollywood‘s newest resource. W&H writers are often asked for recommendations, so each week they’ll spotlight the women-driven and women-made projects—movies, series, VOD releases and more—that they’re most excited about. (Sign up for the Women and Hollywood newsletter at womenandhollywood.com to get each week’s picks delivered to your inbox!)
Directed by Wanuri Kahiu; Written by Wanuri Kahiu and Jenna Cato Bass
In an ideal world, Rafiki would not be this significant. It’s a coming out story. We’ve seen it before. Yet the film is incredibly important—because it is the first Kenyan drama to address the issue.
Rafiki, directed by Wanuri Kahiu, was banned in its home country. (Click here to read Women and Hollywood’s interview with Wanuri Kahiu.) It’s the story of two girls who fall in love and all the societal and political issues that prevent them from expressing that love openly—and another reminder of how far we still have to go in this world in order to truly achieve equality. (Melissa Silverstein)
Rafiki opens in New York April 19. It will expand to additional cities in the coming weeks. Find screening info here.
Written and Directed by Nia DaCosta
“Everything’s a mess and I’m always the one who has to clean it up,” says Tessa Thompson in Little Woods. The Tribeca winner sees the Thor: Ragnarok actor playing a woman facing a handful of crises in Little Woods, North Dakota.
Ollie (Thompson) is trying to make it through her last few days of probation after getting caught running prescription pills over the border. She’s hardworking, level-headed and committed to changing her life, but she can’t seem to catch a break—her mom just died, her sister Deb (Lily James, “Cinderella”) is dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and their mother’s house is about to be foreclosed on unless they can come up with the cash to settle the mortgage. Ollie needs money, and she needs it fast.
“It’s a film about choice in the face of few options and the lives of women in little seen parts of America,” writer-director Nia DaCosta told Women and Hollywood in an interview. “Part of what drew me to the story was my desire to explore a rural part of America that I was unfamiliar with and understand the lives of women in these spaces.”
DaCosta’s feature directorial debut is an engaging portrait of sisters living in a world designed to keep the poor and oppressed poor and oppressed. As tensions rise and dread builds, you can’t help but wonder what a happy ending would even look like for Ollie and Deb.
Refreshingly realistic but never preachy, Little Woods is an immersive experience that encourages audiences to imagine walking in these women’s shoes. (Laura Berger)
Little Woods opens in select theaters April 19. Find screening info here.
Directed by Julia Hart; Written by Julia Hart and Jordan Horowitz
Our conception of a superhero—save that seen in Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel and Black Panther—has been cemented as a white man who saves the world, usually while wearing a costume. Fast Color, from director and co-writer Julia Hart, challenges that notion.
Set in a near future where water is scarce, the film is the story of a family of black women with superhuman abilities. Those abilities have caused them to run and hide from agents bent on studying—and hindering—them. The movie is an intergenerational drama about mothering and the sacrifices women make for their children. (MS)
Fast Color opens April 19.