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Femme Filmmakers Festival Review – Night (Joosje Duk)

Night starts off as a seemingly innocent film, two girls (Rachel Hilson & Genelva Krin) are getting ready for a night out, doing their make-up and discuss their lipstick shades. The two girls are joined by another couple who happen to be cousins, we hear one of them mention whether there was any issues with immigration. Then the new girls appear on-screen, two white blonde girls (Kelly McCready & Katherine Romans)… why would they ever have an issue with immigration?

As the night unfolds, the carefree dynamic between four friends suddenly shifts following an unpleasant encounter with a nightclub bouncer. The night is soured and one of the white girls asks if they can leave. The viewer follows the four girls at a diner as they recall the incident at the nightclub, and their friendship must go through the ultimate test. When the twist is revealed, it’s like a slap in the face and we realise just damaging micro-aggressions can be and just how privileged many of us actually are (whether we want to admit it or not).

Night shows us casual racism can been like a snowball, building up and become bigger and bigger, until it becomes uncontrollable. If you needed a wake-up call about the state of reality and a commentary about the current issues faced by women of colour, well Joosje Duk’s brilliant film is it. It is no surprise that the film won the Huffington Post Arts Impact Award and has been gaining critical praise on the festival circuit (which it most definitely deserves).

Joosje Duk

Some may consider micro-aggressions too minor to call out, however they function as painful reminders of the past prejudice to those who fall victim of them. It is the lack of sheer ignorance and respect for other people’s cultures, backgrounds and traditions which can prove more damaging in the long-term.

Dutch filmmaker Joosje Duk forces us to consider these often ignored and overlooked acts of micro-aggressions in a new light. The film is based on her own experience, when she witnessed a group of men being denied access to a club, simply because of the colour of their skin. It sounds like it should be something of the past, belonging to the 1950s, but the alarming truth is that incidents like these occur far too regularly in our own time.

In her directors statement, Duk stated in Night she is “trying to show that micro-aggressions which people might not think of as racist can still hurt others, in order to make people think twice about their seemingly harmless actions. I’d love for NIGHT to be a story inspiring the audience to feel confident talking about race in a positive and stimulating way.” While writing the screenplay for the short film, the director spoke to many African-American women in New York about their experiences of casual racism and they helped to edit and revise the script.

As Duk discusses in her statement ”[They] explained to me that it’s hard for white women to understand their privilege, unless they experience what it is like to be a minority in the United States. When something racist occurs, many people feel like minorities are being ‘too sensitive,’ but what would they say when they were the ones being discriminated against?”

Joosje Duk

Night is a film that is relevant and should be seen by as many people as possible. It’s an important film with a serious message that should be heard. Moments of micro-aggressions may seem invisible or innocent to some, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a severe impact on others. Night is also about friendship, and how we can all learn from one and another’s experiences in order to better ourselves. With strong performances, clever story-telling and a thought-provoking subject matter, Night is a film that will start a conversation about micro-aggressions that could stimulate people to think about the topic of racism in a more honest and profound way.

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