January 02, 2024
The latest adaptation of The Color Purple fails its lead character | Gloria Oladipo
Alice Walker’s Pulitzer prize-winning book The Color Purple follows the central years of Celie, a Black girl in 1900s Georgia who survives abuse at the hands of her father and husband, Mister. The Color Purple review – a heartfelt new version supercharged by a powerhouse cast Read more There’s a surgical balance in how to depict Celie: someone deprived of love and compassion, but never passive, never weak. Unfortunately, the most recent big-screen musical remake, directed by Blitz Bazawule and written by Marcus Gardley, doesn’t live in the fullness of Celie’s life, notably Celie’s queerness. From Walker’s original text to the subsequent adaptations, there have been various methods chosen to voice Celie’s thoughts. In the 1982 novel, Celie writes letters to God, giving texture to her life outside of the injustices done to her. Steven Spielberg’s 1985 rendering inserted the letters as voiceovers from a child and adult Celie (played by a commanding Whoopi Goldberg). Bazawule chooses to forgo the letters entirely, illustrating Celie’s inner monologue through fantastical sequences. In one moment, Celie (a tender Fantasia Barrino) fantasizes as she draws Shug Avery (Taraji P Henson) a bath; in her mind’s eye, Celie traces Shug’s sudsy arm as the two are slowly spun on an imagined turntable. In another sequence, the two perform an elaborate dance in flapper dresses, before sharing their first, real-life kiss. The insertions provide some glimpse and are a needed counterpoint to the source material’s brutality. But the high-flung fantasies often act as an echoing of Celie’s emotions versus an illumination. They shrug off Celie’s complexity, complications captured in Walker’s words. The refusal to sit in milestones of Celie’s life is most frustratingly captured in her romantic relationship with Shug. Bazawule has acknowledged Celie as a “queer icon” and said the latest movie is an attempt to “lean into” Celie’s sexual orientation. But to say that the latest iteration puts queerness at the center would be a mistake. The depiction of Celie and Shug’s relationship, a centerpiece in Walker’s work, remains shy and chaste. Bazawule’s adaptation is a more overt expression of sapphic relationships than Spielberg’s (the 154-minute movie featured a single kiss between the two, with no long-term relationship established), but feels so devoid of genuine love between the two Women. While Walker’s book shows the fullness of Celie and Shug’s relationship, Bazawule does not establish a long-term partnership between the two, nor acknowledge the couple’s breakup (as seen in the 2005 Broadway adaptation). In Walker’s text, Celie discovers the fullness of womanhood because of Shug, the love she can hold for herself, her capacity to be an independent and sexual being. Celie discovers her ability for sexual pleasure through Shug, even before the two have sex. Shug encourages Celie to explore herself sexually, helping keep watch as Celie examines her vagina in a mirror. Shug remains beside Celie as she navigates additional upheaval. When Celie discovers that Mister has been hiding letters from her sister, Shug cuddles with Celie and encourages her to find agency through making and wearing pants. In Bazawule’s version, Celie’s decision to start selling pants is a pivot she stumbles into after receiving an inheritance from her biological father. But Walker’s actual text is precise: the decision to wear and sew the garment is itself a queer act of resistance, inspired by Shug in the face of Mister’s tyranny. Instead of honoring Walker’s intentions, the movie erases the couple’s relationship almost entirely, and the betrayals that come with it. Shug’s decision to have a fling with a 19-year-old boy (also featured in the Broadway musical adaptation) is removed. The plot point served as a nod to the expansiveness of Shug’s own sexuality, but also Celie’s deep investment in their mutual domesticity. Fantasia Barrino in The Color Purple. Photograph: Lynsey Weatherspoon/AP Bazawule and Gardley are instead committed to showing the abuse suffered by Celie in painstaking detail. Slaps endured by Celie are readily included. One of the movie’s earliest fantasies – Celie retreating into a glammed-out picture of Shug – comes as she is being raped by Mister. The abuse is, of course, a key element of Walker’s story. But here, Celie’s debasement is prioritized above her relationship with Shug and her overall healing. At a time when Black queer people face increased threats and violence, the choice to blot out Celie’s queerness feels especially damaging. Black queer and trans people are increasingly and systematically under threat, as lawmakers pass a bevy of anti-LGBTQ+ laws and hate crimes against Black and queer communities rise nationwide . The latest take on The Color Purple could provide a needed example of the healing that queer relationships can provide. It could serve as an exaltation of Black sapphic community, especially when such connections are treated with suspect and condemnation. Instead, that thread of Celie’s life is frayed away. When Celie declares she is “here”, she is “beautiful”, it should also include her queerness too.
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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