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8 Black Indie Movies Celebrating #BlackGirlMagic And #BlackBoyJoy

A list of 8 independent films written and directed by African Americans to celebrate moments of #BlackGirlMagic and #BlackBoyJoy currently available online. While some themes explored are heavier than others, each movie, in its own way, dramatically, entertainingly, and oh so beautifully captures what it means to love, lose, heal, and grow while Black in a world-in-progress.

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1. Moonlight (2016)

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Hailed by many, including the National Society of Film Critics, as "the best film of the year," this Golden Globe-winning, Oscar-nominated (eight nominations to be exact) masterpiece is unlike anything I have ever seen on the big screen. Based on Tarell Alvin McCraney’s deeply personal play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue,” writer-director Barry Jenkins poetically portrays the coming-of-age of a beautiful, confused Black boy growing up in Miami during the height of Reagan’s War on Drugs. The movie is divided into three chapters—“Little,” “Chiron,” and “Black”—each name referring to the protagonist as we follow him from childhood (Alex R. Hibbert) through adolescence (Ashton Sanders) into adulthood (Trevante Rhodes) on his quest for love, identity, and belonging.

2. Jean of the Joneses (2016)

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Jean of the Joneses is truly a Black comedy, mixing dark humor and family drama to beautifully capture the everydayness and complexity of Black life and love. The movie stars Taylour Paige and Sherri Shepherd, and was written and directed by Stella Meghie, who, in an interview, offered this description of the film: "An unexpected death shakes up the Joneses, an outspoken Jamaican-American family. One of the youngest, Jean, falls for the paramedic who answers their call but the courtship has a few obstacles including a disorderly funeral."

3. Pariah (2011)

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Pariah is one of the few coming-of-age dramas to focus on the experiences of young queer women of color. Adapted by Dee Rees from her award-winning 2007 short, Pariah follows 17-year-old Alike (pronounced ah-LEE-kay), played by Adepero Oduye, as she learns how to “be in the world," as Rees puts it in the press kit.

4. I Will Follow (2010)

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I Will Follow, DuVernay's first feature film, offers an intimate and beautifully rendered portrait of grief and the process of letting go as makeup artist Maye (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) packs up the belongings of her recently-deceased aunt.

Roger Ebert offers a lovely review of the film: "I Will Follow doesn't tell a story so much as try to understand a woman. Through her, we can find insights into the ways we deal with death. In one way or another, every emotion in this wonderful independent film is one I've experienced myself. Grief, of course. But also anger, loneliness, confusion and a sense of lost direction. Above all, urgent conversations you have in your own mind with someone who is no longer alive. How many people, now dead, have you wanted to ask questions you should have asked when they were alive?"

5. Middle of Nowhere (2012)

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Winner of the 2012 Sundance Directing Award for U.S. Dramatic Film, DuVernay's sophomore feature, Middle of Nowhere, is a story about young nurse named Ruby (Emayatzy Corinealdi) who puts her life on hold after her husband (Omari again!) is sentenced to eight years in prison. Over these years, amidst chance encounters, heartache, and betrayals, Ruby is "propelled in new and often shocking directions of self-discovery—caught between two worlds and two men in the search for herself."

6. Dope (2015)

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Written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa (think The Wood and Brown Sugar), this award-winning "nerds-in-the-hood comedy" centers on Malcolm, "a high-school geek from Inglewood, Calif. with Harvard aspirations. Like his only two friends, he's obsessed with ‘90s hip-hop and plays in a punk band called Awreeoh (pronounced Oreo)." The dope soundtrack for the film is curated by none other than Pharrell Williams.

7. Beyond the Lights (2014)

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Written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, the talented writer/director who blessed us with Love & Basketball, Beyond the Lights is a romantic drama about a rising pop star (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) attempting to deal with the pressures of fame with the help of the young cop/future politician (Nate Parker) assigned to her detail.

8. The Fits (2015)

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The cover alone is reason enough to watch this movie. A beautiful brown girl with cornrows (Royalty Hightower) looking directly at you, as she does throughout the film, in which she plays an "11-year-old tomboy" trying to find her place in the world and amongst her peers after joining an all-girl dance team.

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