Jan 19, 2022

TVO Original ‘Subjects of Desire’ challenges harmful narratives about beauty and Black women

Selected as one of Canada’s Top Ten Films of 2021 by TIFF and a Top 10 Audience Favourite at Hot Docs Festival, the acclaimed doc premieres on TVO Tuesday, February 1

Conventional beauty narratives have often excluded Black women and girls, negatively affecting identity and limiting perceptions of beauty. Premiering on TVO Tuesday, February 1, 2022 at 9 pm ET and streaming across Canada afterwards on TVO.orgYouTube and TVO streaming services including Roku and Apple TV, TVO Original Subjects of Desire reveals the harmful stereotypes targeting Black women and the promising hope for change. The film has garnered awards and accolades from Hot Docs, SXSW, TIFF and more.

Subjects of Desire will be eye-opening for viewers who haven’t felt systematically excluded from conventional beauty standards, while simultaneously reflecting many of the life experiences of those who have,” says John Ferri, VP of Programming and Content at TVO. “This documentary delves into the far-reaching impacts popular beauty narratives have had on Black women and what we can do to support change.”

“In making this film I wanted to explore the destructive narratives that Black women and girls often face just waking up in their skin. I’m genuinely floored by the incredible impact it’s having and the conversations it’s igniting. Grateful and blessed for TVO and those who supported me,” says director-writer-producer Jennifer Holness.

Featuring interviews with singer-songwriters India Arie and Jully Black, as well as former beauty pageant contestants and Holness’s own teenaged daughters, TVO Original Subjects of Desire highlights the small-but-promising gains that have been made to redefine who can be considered beautiful in media and society. The documentary has increasingly drawn attention following its inclusion in TIFF’s Canada’s Top Ten 2021 and Hot Docs Festival’s top 10 list of audience favourites. 

The first feature documentary from veteran film and TV producer Jennifer Holness, Subjects of Desire is part of TVO’s Black History Month programming, which will also include the drama series Small Axe from Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen, and the documentaries Black Power: A British Story of ResistanceSubnormal: A British ScandalToni Morrison: The Pieces I AmBecoming Black and more. 

Watch the premiere of TVO Original Subjects of Desire on Tuesday, February 1 at 9 pm ET on TVO and stream any time on TVO.orgYouTube and TVO streaming channels. Stay current on the latest TVO documentary news and insights by signing up for the forthcoming TVO Docs newsletter at TVO.org/newsletters.

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