A Gorgeous Take on Black Sisterhood | Gabrielle Union in “The Door” by Ava DuVernay

Yesterday I stumbled upon this breathtakingly produced short film and my heart literally sang. As soon as I was done watching it, I immediately watched it two more times before emailing the link to everyone. From the fashion, to the the all-star line-up, to the music (oh the music!), to the mood this film evokes, I was completely sold within the first 30 seconds of hitting “play.”

Written and produced by up and coming filmmaker, Ava DuVernay, “The Door” is number 5 in a series of “Women’s Tales” put on by high fashion brand, Miu Miu. With Gabrielle Union in the lead, surrounded by a formidable group of black actresses (Alfre Woodard!), “The Door” is a stylish yet endearing depiction of friendship, love, and black sisterhood.

Interview Magazine further describes,

For the fifth film made for The Women’s Tales, a short film series sponsored by Miu Miu, Miuccia Prada chose filmmaker Ava DuVernay, best known as the first black woman to win Best Director at last year’s Sundance for Middle of Nowhere, to direct The Door, a story driven by female friendships.

In the film, a steely, frigid blue building structure frames the opening shot, guiding viewers’ attention to a female figure in perfect profile, wearing a sweeping red dress as she gazes out from a glass balcony.

As the protagonist, played by a serene Gabrielle Union, receives visits from friends, they are introduced standing at the literal door referenced in the title. They seem to be dropping by to cheer her up from an apparent divorce, and each companion helps her pick an ensemble to wear out—first to dinner, then to a nightclub, then to a concert, where singer-songwriter Goapele steals the scene with her vocals. The familiar gesture of choosing outfits makes the characters’ interactions around the clothes natural and believable as a genuine part of each relationship. In the closing scene, we see Union slip off a ring from her left hand, and slip on a pair of leather gloves, before walking out the door. Says DuVernay, “Eventually, we witness our heroine ready to walk through the door on her own. The door in the film represents a pathway to who we are.”

I love this project for three reasons:

  1. The elegant portrayal of black women. When I was a little girl growing up in the 90′s, I used to play in the living room on Saturday mornings where my mom would watch Style with Esa Klensch. Though I was initially annoyed that my mom was hogging the TV from my Saturday morning cartoons, pretty soon I would look forward to the show as I became mesmerized by the like of Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks who were often featured walking down the runway in Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and Versace’s best. It was the image of those women – strong and chic in their high heels and 90′s power suits – that first represented adulthood, femininity, and sophistication for me. I completely wanted to look like that when I grew up! “The Door,” with its fabulous styling of Gabrielle Union and her gorgeous friends, instantly takes me back to the same adoration I had as little girl sitting on the living room carpet, absorbing the icons of her mother’s fashion program as it blared in the background.
  2. The sheer creativity, in 10 minutes no less. I’ve been reading a lot of books on creativity lately and an interesting concept I keep coming across is that constraints can increase our creativity versus stifling it. “A set of limitations is often the catalyst that sets creativity free.” I love that Ava was able to weave a visually striking and totally engrossing story in such a short time frame. It inspires me to think that I too can create something so skilled from something so simple.
  3. The story. Given that “The Door” features an all black cast, the storyline is the part of this project that I find most empowering. “The Door” shows that as black women, we can be strong without being unfeeling. The tragedies of our lives are supposed to feel tragic; relishing in the feeling of the moment, for a time, do not take away our strength. It simple means we are human, which the very acknowledgement of is unfortunately profound in a society that does not always remember that black women are people, too. Contrary to the “unscripted” “realities” portrayed on popular TV, the experience many black women share with each other is one of love and support, not bickering and hatred. We too embody Sisterhood. Womanhood. Personhood. To me, “The Door” is like a breath of fresh air.

And #4 the music! Oh, the music just makes me melt… :-)

What did you think about this short film? What other projects showcasing black women inspire you? I’d love to hear your comments.

Photo: Brigitte Lacombe, via Interview Magazine

  • CHERYL PETRATOS

    THANKS SO MUCH! This is a great short! Like you, I played it over and over! I even went to itunes and got the music (FYI~Because can be download off their site!)
    It was so great for all the reasons that you’ve mentioned!
    C~

  • Precious

    This was a great post! It was simple but the lack of words spoke volumes. This is a type of work that I feel anyone could relate to and the fashion was impressive.

  • Joy

    Courtney thanks so much for sharing this. It’s beautiful.

  • http://www.lifeandcomposition.com BessieAkuba

    I love this because of the same reasons you do. It is indeed refreshing to see us in the same way we see ourselves.