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22 Feature Films Of The African Diaspora To See At The Toronto International Film Festival

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act September 5, 2013 at 11:29AM

A repost, considering the festival begins today!

The Venezuelan drama Bad Hair (Pelo Malo), written and directed by Mariana Rondon, which centers on a 9-year old boy's obsession with straightening his own hair, which elicits "a tidal wave of homophobic panic in his hard-working mother."

As Vanessa noted in her previous profile of the film, what's interesting about it, from it's longer synopsis is how the filmmaker seems to interweave issues of sexual and racial identity - homophobia and racism - through the eyes of a young boy and his racially diverse family.  

In Bad Hair, Junior (Samuel Lange) is harboring a fantasy of becoming a long-haired singer. The boy's black grandmother (Nelly Ramos) seems to encourage her grandson. Conflict arises when Junior's mother - who panics at the thought of her son becoming gay - "sets out to "correct" Junior's condition before it fully takes hold."

Here's a full synopsis, courtesy of TIFF:

Junior (Samuel Lange) is a beautiful nine year- old boy, with big brown eyes, a delicate frame, and a head of luxurious dark curls. But Junior aches to straighten those curls, to acquire a whole new look befitting his emerging fantasy image of himself as a long-haired singer. As the opportunity approaches to have his photo taken for the new school year, that ache turns into a fiery longing. Junior's mother, Marta (Samantha Castillo), is barely hanging on. The father of her children has died, she recently lost her job as a security guard, and she now struggles to put a few arepas on the table for Junior and his baby brother. She loves her kids, would endure almost anything for them, but she cannot abide Junior's preening and fussing over his appearance. The boy's grandmother (Nelly Ramos), however, encourages and nurtures his behaviour; even though she knows why he visits the same newsstand every morning — the one tended by a handsome, slick young man. Junior doesn't even know yet what it means to be gay, but the very notion prompts Marta to set out to "correct" Junior's condition before it fully takes hold. 

Watch the trailer below:

This article is related to: Festival Dispatch, Lists

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