Seeing My Reflection In Film: "Night Catches Us" Struck A Chord With Me

By Arielle Loren

It is rare that a film invades my imagination to the point of insomnia. After seeing Tanya Hamilton’s Night Catches Us starring Kerry Washington and Anthony Mackie, I felt a sense of deep pride wash over my body and nudge my mind into continuous thoughts about the potential for independent productions to rebalance diversity in black film. Based in Philadelphia, Night Catches Us tells the story of two former black panthers trying to re-establish life after leaving The Party and the death of a fellow panther years ago. While the central plot revolves around these two characters’ lives, Hamilton integrates into the film historic footage of the Black Panther Party. As this era of black history often is pigeonholed to radicalism, Hamilton truly humanizes The Party through several scenes of police brutality, corruption, and community gatherings. For instance, Washington’s character, Patricia, would raise money to pay the legal fees for her less fortunate clients and feed every child on the block even when she couldn’t pay her light bill.

This sentiment of “community first” is the history with which I identify and the one that I wish we could spread to more mainstream screens. While watching this film, I saw my reflection. From Washington’s afro to her desire to serve her community, I felt hope again for the half-baked images rummaging through mainstream black film. Night Catches Us only is playing in select theaters, BUT you can rent it on iTunes and On Demand via Comcast. Thus, there’s no excuse not to support this film; we’ve got to support the films that we want to see in the mainstream. I hope Night Catches Us will be nominated for an Oscar and brought to larger screens. As a first time director, Hamilton has left me quite impressed and I can’t wait to see what other stories she will bring to life during her career. Additionally, I am truly proud to see my reflection in her too.

Check out the trailer Night Catches Us below and if you haven’t seen the film, view it on iTunes.

Tell me, how can we get more films like this onto the big screen?

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