Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Oscar-nominated documentary by queer Black filmmaker on Netflix

A Love Song For Latasha, a documentary short directed by Black queer filmmaker Sophia Nahli Allison, is what we need to watch right now.

Sophia Nahli Allison is a multi-hyphenate queer Black talent. She is the director, cinematographer, editor, and producer of a new documentary short that probes the injustice surrounding the shooting death of 15-year-old Latasha Harlins at a South Central Los Angeles store, which became a flashpoint for the city’s 1992 civil uprising. As the Black community expressed its profound pain in the streets, Latasha’s friends and family privately mourned the loss of a vibrant child whose full story was never in the headlines.

Sophia Nahli Allison recalls experiencing the 1992 L.A. riots as a four year-old girl. Though Latasha’s death was a catalyst for the riots, Allison wanted to make a film about Latasha’s life so she would be remembered beyond the trauma of a Black body, beyond a statistic, a newspaper headline, or an inaccurate Wikipedia page.

Artist Victoria Cassinova

Now, three decades later, Allison, herself from South Central Los Angeles, has revisited this traumatic event to excavate hidden truths about white supremacy and the ongoing tragedy of race relations in this country. A Love Song For Latasha removes Latasha from the context of her death and rebuilds an archive of a promising life lost. Oral history and memories from Latasha’s best friend and cousin converge in a dreamlike portrait that shows the impact one brief but brilliant life can have.

Earlier this year, a mural created by artist Victoria Cassinova and dedicated to the life and legacy of Latasha Harlins debuted on what would have been her 45th birthday. Located at the Algin Sutton Recreation Center in South LA, the mural stands at the front of the building where Latasha and her friends spent time throughout their childhood and teenage years. The words to the left of her face are a poem Latasha wrote, it is also spoken in the film. The phrase “We Queens” is something Latasha often said to her friends to remind them of their power and importance. Latasha’s full name is a focal point.

Watch the trailer:

Critics are raving about A Love Song For Latasha.

“Allison’s experimental style, lush palette, fast-paced editing and tender close-ups on Latasha’s cousins and friends, all now 40-something Black women like me, recreate the loss of Latasha’s innocence.” – The New York Times

“A Love Song For Latasha is experimental, it’s artistic, and it’s a moving tribute to a life that was stolen, not just from Harlins, but from those who loved her. Though the runtime is only 19 minutes, Allison manages to make Harlins come alive in a way that the media surrounding her death—and the violence that followed it—never could.” – Decider

“This work is especially crucial during these a time when Black death is at the forefront of daily coverage, and it challenges us to remember the Black womxn, trans men, and non-binary folx we’ve lost and to reimagine the rich and nuanced lives they lived.” – Vice

A Love Song For Latasha is now on Netflix.

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