Night Catches Us

LetterboxD review link

I caught this 2010 debut film by Tanya Hamilton at a retrospective screening at the Metrograph. In a Q&A session after the screening, the moderator mentioned a story about once asking a filmmaker if he was making a film about an event that took place in May. “I’m making a film about June,” the director responded. This is a film about June.

The characters in this film — portrayed brilliantly by Kerry Washington, Anthony Mackie, Jamie Hector and others — are not the ones in the center of the action, but they’re reeling from the consequences of actions past.

One thing I kept thinking about during this film was when do little black girls get to have fun on screen? Where do those stories exist? Irish, the little girl whose story is at the center of this film and who carries much of its emotional weight, is rarely seen enjoying herself, playing, or otherwise being a child. She witnesses police brutality. She hears the story of her father’s murder. She sees her father’s blood caked on the walls of her home. The only examples of young black girls being carefree I can recall are Beasts of the Southern Wild and a set of wonderful Vines that were popular before the platform was shut down. We could use more of these stories.

Also, I can only imagine that Shonda Rhymes saw Kerry Washington as a badass lawyer in this film and it served as the inspiration for Scandal.