Finding Her Beat A Beautiful Journey To Make The First Women-Led Taiko Performance

Finding Her Beat, directed by Dawn Mikkelson and Keri Pickett, documents the journey to create HERbeat, a performance filled with all-women taiko drummers. The world of taiko drumming is full of men; women often face challenges finding employment. The first of its kind, the film charts the path from rounding up some of the most renowned women taiko players and the challenge of planning this in February 2020, as the pandemic started sweeping through the US. Looking at the obstacles, a performance of this caliber entails, Finding Her Beat puts you on to taiko and still uplifts the women who exist in the originally all-men space. 

Let The Little Light Shine—The Roar of The Unheard

Let The Little Light Shine, directed and produced by Kevin Shaw, documents the battle between a predominantly Black school, National Teachers Academy (NTA), and the encroaching gentrification. The documentary focuses on the parents, students, and principal of NTA but also covers the school’s initial struggles. Let The Little Light Shine shows an authentic look at a grassroots movement to save a school; a look at the politics, fake change, and catering to white people that places undue pain on Black people. 

Mary J. Blige’s My Life Review

Mary J. Blige’s My Life explores the emotions and life of musical icon Mary J. Blige during her sophomore album titled My Life. That album struck a chord with a generation and spoke to their pain and struggles. It should come as no surprise that Mary J. Blige herself was struggling at that time. While the documentary, directed by Vanessa Roth, does talk to Mary J. Blige about the hardships of that time, it is more a reflection. Indeed, she has come far and part of what helped her, she acknowledges, were her fans. 

Accepted: Tragic Look At Education [Tribeca Review]

Accepted is a documentary directed by Dan Chen that looks at the college preparatory school, TM Landry. The school touts a 100% college acceptance rate for students, but underneath that impressive record lies questions and harm. It raises questions about our educational system, the different schools and prep academies, and the inequalities that create a cycle of poverty for those already impoverished. 

Who We Are: A Chronicle Of Racism In America Is Both A Personal Journey And A National Discussion—SXSW Review

Who We Are: A Chronicle Of Racism In America is a documentary, directed by Emily and Sarah Kunstler and written by Jeffery Robinson, that discusses the issue and history of racism. Racism has been the foundation of the U.S. for far too long. It ties in Jeffery Robinson speaking at an event on the topic as well as a mix of archival footage from history, interviews and Jeffery’s personal experiences to balance both the broader issue of racism with the micro effects in people’s lives. 

Subjects of Desire Discusses The Dual Invisibility and Hypervisibility of Black Women’s Presence—SXSW Review

Subjects of Desire focuses on contestants for the Miss Black America beauty pageant. The documentary discusses issues of identity, Blackness, bullying, and the system that both envy their beauty while disregarding their existence. It charts Black women’s journey. Especially, as they are viewed in opposition to white women who are the center for beauty. It does not look at the stereotypes attributed to beauty pageants. More-so, it is the exploration and struggle that Black women and girls experience. 

Sundance Review: Summer of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) Is The Festival We Deserve

Summer of Soul is Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s (member of The Roots, filmmaker, producer, DJ) directorial debut and it is brilliant. Even during the pandemic, we had no reprieve from being targeted by police for violence and politicians and a healthcare system that largely ignores us and this documentary gives us a glimpse of where we are by looking back at where we were. We are tired; tired of the violence, the erasure of our achievements, our voices, and our worth.