Happy July! It’s hard to believe that we are already halfway through 2014. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I have been going pretty hard core on my #NFOTD (New Film of the Day) goals for 2014. I have been trying REALLY hard to stay on track and watch at least seven films a week). My goal is to watch 365 new films by December 31, 2014.
For those who don’t know, NFOTD was started by my Twitter homie and director of photography extraordinaire, Cybel Martin. Every day #NFOTD participants watch a film that they’ve never seen before and tweet (and sometimes instagram) about it.
As of July 1, 2014 I have watched 180 films. The break down is as follows:
Narrative Features – 134 (74.4%)
Documentaries – 46 (25.5%)
Short Films – 7 (3.8%)
Foreign Language Films – 5 (2.7 %)
Female Screenwriters – 46 (21.6%)
Female Directors – 42 (21.3%)
Female DPs -14 (7.7 %)
To celebrate half a year of #NFOTD, I decided to highlight some of my favorite films, so far.
Favorite Performance: Regina Hall in About Last Night
Directed By: Steve Pink
Starring: Michael Ealy, Joy Bryant, Kevin Hart, Regina Hall
The 411: It takes guts and true talent to go head to head with the biggest comedian in Hollywood. But Regina Hall holds her own against the comedic firecracker that is Kevin Hart. In About Last Night she excels as a comedic actress and steals the spotlight on more than one occasion.
Favorite Theatrical Release: Belle
Directed By: Amma Asante
Starring: GuGu Mbatha-Raw, Matthew Goode, Emily Watson, Tom Wilkinson
The 411: Belle tells the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, a mixed race aristocrat in 18th century Britain. The film effectively deals with issues of gender, marriage, social status, and race. Belle benefits from a solid screenplay, great direction, and powerful performances.
Favorite Documentary: Vanishing Pearls
Directed By: Nailah Jefferson
Starring: The fishermen of Pointe La Hache, LA.
The 411: Vanishing Pearls tells the story of a group of black fishermen in Louisiana who suffer devastating consequences after the BP oil spill. The film chronicles the trials and tribulations of these men as they face the aftermath of the long clean-up and as they seek compensation for their losses.
Favorite Foreign Film: Wadjda
Directed By: Haifaa Al Mansour
Starring: Waad Mohammed, Reem Abdullah, Abdullrahnab Al Gohani
The 411: Wadjda is a delightful film, the first shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, that follows a 10-year old girl in her quest to raise the money to buy a bike. It’s also a brilliant coming of age film and a great mother/daughter film.
Favorite Short Film: Next Door’s Next
Directed By: Crystle Roberson
Starring: Marius Mitchell, Sheryland Neal
The 411: Next Door’s Next focuses on a young couple who spend the afternoon baking a cake for their new neighbor. The film plays with time in a creative way that allows it’s protagonists to come face to fact with their future. It’s a great, thought provoking film.
Favorite TV Movie: A Day Late And A Dollar Short
Directed By: Stephen Tolkin
Starring: Whoopi Goldberg, Ving Rhames, Kimberly Elise, Tichina Arnold, Anika Noni Rose
The 411: The cast is the biggest asset in A Day Late and A Dollar Short. Whoopi gives an amazing performance as a woman trying to reconcile her family as they deal with many complicated issues. The supporting cast is equally impressive. The film is a great testament to the power of redemption and forgiveness.
Favorite Throwback: Paris Is Burning
Directed By: Jennie Livingston
Starring: Dorian Corey, Pepper LaBeija, Octavia St. Laurent
The 411: I have heard about Paris Is Burning for YEARS but only recently watched it for myself. And I must say it lived up to the hype. The film takes a look at the drag culture in 1980s NYC. It highlights aspects such as balls and voguing and explains the origins of today’s popular phrases (i.e. reading, shade, realness).
Favorite Historical Film: Cesar Chavez
Directed By: Deigo Luna
Starring: Michael Pena, America Ferrera, Rosario Dawson
The 411: Cesar Chavez focuses on the several years that the title character worked as an activist for the migrant grape farmers. Chavez took a nonviolent approach to the system that sought to destroy the Latino and Filipino farm workers. The strength of this film is it’s focus and the extraordinary performance of Michael Pena.
Favorite Netflix Find: GBF
Directed By: Darren Stein
Starring: Michael J. Willett, Paul Iancono, Sasha Pieterse
The 411: In GBF three popular girls vie for supreme popularity by acquiring the school’s first openly gay student as their gay best friend. The film is absurd, but fun and underneath the shallow personas of the main characters, the film has heart and there is an important underlying message of acceptance.