We’ve been waiting for the film adaptation of the bestselling book, Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give since the trailer dropped earlier this year. The wait is finally over – and it is so worth it. As book nerds, we would recommend that you read the book before watching the film, but *gasp* the film is almost as good as the book. SHAAZIA EBRAHIM and FATIMA MOOSA attended a pre-screening of the movie, which launches October 19 in cinemas countrywide.
The Hate U Give follows 16-year-old Starr Carter (played by Amandla Stenberg), who lives in a poor black neighbourhood and goes to high school in a rich, white one. Starr has to switch between her black-neighbourhood-self and her self-that-she-makes-palatable-to-white-people. But after she watches her friend being gunned down by a white police officer, she can no longer code switch between her two identities without being true to herself.
Although the story takes place in the United States and has mainly American themes, there are some that are very relevant to South African audiences. Take white privilege, for instance. We all know one white person who makes racist “jokes” and expects you to laugh at them. Or the white person who is all about a cause for an aesthetic, and not because of the injustice. But more than that, it’s about standing up against injustice and speaking your truth, a theme that is universal.
When you watch the film, prepare to cry. It’s absolutely heart-wrenching and jarring to be told the story of police brutality and #BlackLivesMatter through the eyes of a teenage girl. Conversations around racism and violence against black people in the US sometimes seem far removed from our daily realities, making the story a very human one. This movie shows all of that without making it feel like that’s the only thing that defines Starr and her family. The moments of brevity and lightheartedness between the Carter family will make you smile and laugh. As Potterheads, we especially loved the Harry Potter references peppered throughout the film.
The father-daughter relationship between Starr and her dad had us so soft. Imagine a former gang member turned general store owner who taught his young children the Black Panther 10 Point Program. The way her dad gives her the freedom to grow and discover her identity and his unwavering support is beautiful.
The cast produced fantastic performances, whether it was the characters we loved or the ones we loved to hate. The cast was made up of brilliant actors: Russel Hornsby, Regina Hall, Common, Sabrina Carpenter, and KJ Apa. It was especially cool to see Issa Rae in her role in the film, and the cameo by the author, Angie Thomas. Even with the sterling cast, the person who provided all of the feels was Amandla Stenberg.
Amandla Stenberg is stan-worthy AF
When you hear the word “Amandla”, you probably want to say “awethu” right? Your instincts are correct. Amandla was literally named for the Zulu/Xhosa word for power. And our girl Amandla is powerful AF.
Firstly, Stenberg considers herself an intersectional feminist. She speaks out about her political views in interviews and on social media. Stenberg was even named “Feminist of the Year” in 2015 by the Ms. Foundation for Women.
Not to mention, Stenberg is all about queer rights. In her Vogue interview, she said she doesn’t even think gender exists. Stenberg identifies as non-binary, and uses both ‘they’ and ‘she’ pronouns. She said her gender, like her sexuality, is fluid.
At the age of 16, she schooled classmates and the American public on the relevance of black culture and its appropriation by mass media. In a video, she and a classmate created for history class, Stenberg asked: “What would America be like if we loved black people as much as we love black culture?”, embodying the spirit of Starr before the book was even written.
You may have seen her as Rue in The Hunger Games and Madeline Whittier in Everything, Everything. We stan an actor who acts in YA book-to-film adaptations. Her portrayal of Starr might be her best performance yet.
Featured image provided by Pan Macmillan.