The latest in our series of writers highlighting under-the-radar films is a recommendation for an unusual and intelligent teen drama
I missed Tayarisha Poe’s startling debut feature Selah and the Spades at two 2019 film festivals – Sundance and Toronto – and kicked myself after each oversight. When I finally watched the teen boarding school drama on Amazon Prime, I discovered a mafia-inspired plot told from the unique perspective of a black woman, yet steeped in the pressures of black excellence. I loved Poe’s intelligent world building and the frankness she sketched her characters with. When Selah and the Spades premiered in April, amid the world ramping up against the Covid-19 pandemic, Selah’s cutthroat machinations, in some fashion, captured a reality that felt colder by the day. Unfortunately, due to the aforementioned pandemic, Poe’s debut seemingly went unnoticed by the general public. As I did last year, they’ve missed out.