Imagine a cinematic landscape, where Black Girl Magic is allowed to inhabit the world of fairy tales...a Once Upon A Time framework, where little Black girls can see themselves, as faeries, as goddesses, as warriors...Thistles and Thorns is an experimental short film that reimagines Black girls as the protagonist of a magical realm. The magical realm isn't a remake of a European fairytale but rather it is uniquely informed by Black culture and heritage; Black girlhood informs the fairy tale itself.
The camera crawls, intimately following the character Assata (Yazmin Monet Watkins-Vieux) on her perilous journey to bring magic back to the Garden of Sisterhood. Assata, whose name was inspired by Assata Shakur, sports a massive and unapologetic Afro, and the friends and foes she encounters, both human and mythical, also sport natural hair and protective styles. You see, in the cinematic world of Thistles and Thorns, Black women’s natural hair is celebrated and honored, a stark contrast to the usual way it is allowed to exist on-screen (especially in the rare times that Black women get to navigate far-off realms). The music is alluring and underscores both the danger that Assata must face and the courage she must draw forth -- reminiscent of the everyday experience of Black womanhood. The most beautiful moment, however, is near the end, when we see who Assata is fighting for, who she has made this journey for: the young Black warriors who too shall face the perils she has overcome. We see generations of Black female power, vulnerability and victory.
The ANIMI Production film, was written by Yazmin Monet Watkins-Vieux and David Vieux, and directed by Kalie Acheson. It also boasts a majority female crew. The film was screened at the LA Women Rising event at the SoHo House and received the Award of Merit and Best Short Film at the One-Reeler Short Film Competition in 2018, as well as the Best Experimental Platinum Award at LA Shorts fest in 2018. Watch the complete film below:
Photo: ANIMI Productions