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Are Black Filmmakers Allowed To Shoegaze?

The idea of quiet opening scenes, moments where actors have "shoegaze" type silences where there is space for a character to simply breathe in the weight of their existence. Films like Ava DuVernay's I Will Follow and Barry Jenkins' Medicine For Melancholy give us Subtle Core in that realm. Matthew A. Cherry's The Last Fall is a film that centers on a Black man and is plentiful of sensitive shoegaze moments, something we rarely see on screen, especially with a Black actor as the lead.

I liken the feeling of shoegazing to the music genre where performers are allowed (and expected) to come on stage, quietly perform their set, embracing lo-fi vibes. Where the audience and performer are joined in a marriage of quiet appreciation. The music reaches out and connects with the audience without the expectation of an exaggerated performance. As someone who has attended several of these type of concerts (usually held in smaller venues) there is an unspoken communion between performer and audience that we are both here to cherish the subtle flow of artistic expression. A slow cadence of swaying back and forth. This kind of communion exists in shoegaze, dream-pop and post-rock. Translating these vibes, theses aesthetics into cinema-- White filmmakers are easily afforded the opportunity to create quiet films, and often celebrated for it. It's a privilege. I hope we can cultivate more spaces, and film fans who celebrate the Subtle Core moments of Black filmmaking.

Which brings me to Miss Juneteenth. It was just released on VOD and is a solid addition to this cinematic space. Channing Godfrey Peoples directs Nicole Beharie in an Oscar-worthy performance as a woman who's biggest dream is for daughter to win a Juneteenth pageant. The subtle core of this film is very specific, we enter a vibrant world of Black Texan traditions-- one that has never been depicted on this level before. Peoples and Beharie did the thing were musicians close their eyes, and completely immerse themselves into the sonic waves of their artistry-- it was epic in its quietness.

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