A 2021 Film Journey: Day 39

Still not feeling particularly good today, so after a full day of work followed by a much-needed nap, there was only time for one quick movie and a short post. Today’s movie was a 2020 film that was on my shortlist to watch before putting together a year end list. While it unfortunately fell through the cracks then, it thankfully fit in perfectly this month for Black History Month.

Miss Juneteenth (2020, Dir. Channing Godfrey Peoples)

Image result for Miss Juneteenth

While Turquoise (Nicole Beharie) may be forcing her daughter Kai (Alexis Chikaeze) into the same beauty contest she won as a girl, Turquoise is not a traditional pageant mom. First time director Channing Godfrey Peoples uses the Miss Juneteenth pageant less as a symbol of glitz and glam, but instead as an escape route away from a life of poverty. Unfortunately, in the words of her boss, “ain’t no American Dream for Black folks.”

While invariably, some of the past Miss Juneteenth winners have gone on to great things, even a full ride scholarship to a historically Black college doesn’t guarantee a flawless future. Turquoise never even finished high school, so her scholarship went unused. And yet Kai is pushed into attempting to follow in her mother’s footprints in hopes of finding the mythical escape from a working-class life.

Miss Juneteenth is by and large a solid if not remarkable low budget indie flick. The kind of film that tends to get lost on a streaming service, but if you find it and put it on you end up very pleasantly surprised. The film had a budget of less than $1 million, so while I think it’s merely good not great, it shows a lot of skill from Peoples, and I hope studios will agree and give her a nice budget increase for her second feature.

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