Some things in life you’ll see and never forget, these 8 films are among those moments.
1. Mississippi Damned (2009): Based on a true story, and un-ironically named after a Nina Simone song, this film truly encapsulates the harsh realities of growing up black in the south. A rare, prolific and exceptional film, Mississippi Damned allows for a first-person account into the lives of three black kids, Leigh, Sammy, and Kari growing up in rural Mississippi. It provides a deep analysis into the psychological repercussions of their trauma, their family’s history of violence, abuse, and addiction, and their struggle to free themselves from this vicious cycle. This film touches upon prominent issues in the black community, such as rape, LGBTQ youth, incest, abuse, and mental illness, and overlaps how living in the Deep South significantly hinders their opportunities and relationships due to lack of resources.
Directed by: Tina Mabry
2. Lilja 4 Ever (2002): Loosely based on the case of Danguolė Rasalaite, a Lithuanian teenager, and victim of human trafficking, this film aims to discuss the extreme dangers of human trafficking. Lija’s profoundly negative influences and trauma sets the tone for her self-destructive actions early in the film when her mother abruptly abandons her to move with her boyfriend to America, Lilja’s life-long dream. Being left behind with her abusive aunt to oversee her, Lilja’s behavior becomes increasingly reckless. Throughout the film, Lilja’s is faced with numerous ultimatums, which ultimately leads to her tragic fate.
Directed by: Lukas Moodysso
3. Girlhood (2014): An enriching film that provides a unique POV in French films, a group of black girls facing the challenges of race, gender, and class difference as they come of age. The film is narrated and follows the story of the main character, Marieme, a dark-skinned 16-year old of African-French descent who struggles academically, and sent to vocational school as a result. During her time there she is approached by a girl gang (Lady, Fily, and Adiatou) who occasionally hangs outside the school, and ask her to join them for a trip to the mall. Marieme’s personality and wardrobe changes are immediately noticeable, as she begins imitating the other’s girls behaviors to gain their acceptance, eventually sending her down a path of no return.
Directed by: Céline Sciamma
4. Blue is the Warmest Color (2013): Well-known as a “controversial” film during its debut, it is a film that’ll definitely tug at your heartstrings. Focusing on the life of French teenager, Adèle, a very introverted high-school student seemingly fixated on boys. However, after a sexual experience with her boyfriend she quickly becomes disillusioned. She begins questioning her sexual identity, and her friend Valentin offers to help, taking her to a gay dance bar, but Adèle ultimately decides to leave and goes to a lesbian bar where she meets Emma. The film navigates the internal conflicts of sexual identity, and the realistic complexities of heartbreak in relationships, producing a genuinely heartfelt story that is undeniably profound.
Directed by: Abdellatif Kechiche
5. Requiem for a Dream (2000): Surreal, is the best word to describe this interesting, but a slightly disturbing psychological thriller. This film depicts the highs and lows of four former drug addicts, and the delusion and destructive surrounding their reality. It’s a film amongst my favorites, as its portrayals of drug addiction and consequences are insanely realistic.
Directed by: Lux Aeterna
6. Henry & June (1990): Based directly on the personal journals of a controversial erotic author, Anaïs Nin, and her affairs with June Miller and her husband, author, Henry Miller. If you’re one for autobiographical drama and heavy graphic imagery with an air of overt romanticism, this is the perfect film.
Directed by: Philip Kaufman
7. Nymphomaniac (2013): Exhilarating, shocking, yet graceful and poetically directed, this art film is truly memorable. Narrated by Joe, a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac, retells her story of how she discovered and accepted her uncontrolled sexual desires and the various encounters it caused her to have. I highly recommend this film, its symbolism alone is remarkably beautiful.
Directed by: Lars von Trier
8. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004): I’ll admit, I’m completely biased towards this film, it’s highly symbolic for me, and again, one of my favorites. The film follows a non-linear timeline of memories of Clementine and Joel, in order to explore the complexities of their relationship and the nature of romantic love in opposites. The hazy symbolism makes implications to significant events in their relationship, but creatively embodies the subtle mysterious, perplexing nature of love.
Directed by: Michel Gondry