This was a good year for coming of age films on sexuality – The Wound centers on the ritual teenage boys partake in as a rite of passage in traditional Xhosa culture. The film is a quietly stunning examination of tensions between masculinity, sexuality and culture in modern day South Africa – questioning ideals and practices of cultural rituals of manhood that Nelson Mandela himself extolls. While stylistically the film is beyond reproach, the fact that it was directed by a white South African, and portrays Ulwaluko (the secretive rite of manhood in the Xhosa community) to a global audience should not be taken lightly.
Half comedy, half horror, and all too close to home for some of us, Jordan Peele’s directorial debut Get Out is the best kind of uncomfortable. The best parts of this film are the micro-aggressions that Peele expertly weaves into the overall horror – forcing us to live the experience people of color under the hypocrisy of white liberals. Watching this in an inner-city arthouse cinema full of squirming, cringing white hipsters was almost as fun as the film itself.
Raoul Peck’s documentary of James Baldwin’s civil rights fight is a dramatization of his unfinished manuscript Remember This House. It is powerfully gut-punching in its fine balance of the violence, injustice, and fear at the time and the elegance of Baldwin’s articulation of civil rights. The film culminates in a frightening comparison of the violence against African Americans today, leaving the audience with burning with outrage.
The unashamedly emotional film that tells the strange-but-true story of Saroo Brierley, an Indian boy adopted into an Australian family – manages to find his way back after 25 years. Australian director Garth Davis decided not to hold back, this film is truly a tear-jerker – but why not with a story as emotionally rich as this? Make no mistake, nothing is over-sentimentalized; the film is shot and soundtracked exceptionally but not manipulatively, but if you are not leaving the cinema weeping softly after this one, then you probably don’t have a heart.