Amazon Studios has released the official trailer for writer/director Tayarisha Poe's feature film debut, “Selah and the Spades,” which made its world premiere as a NEXT selection at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Set in the closed world of an elite Pennsylvania boarding school, the Haldwell, where the student body is run by five factions, the film stars a young impressive cast of fresh new faces, including Lovie Simone as the titular Selah Summers. She’s joined by Celeste O'Connor, Jharrel Jerome, Jesse Williams, Gina Torres, and Ana Mulvoy Ten.
Of the Haldwell student body’s five factions — The Spades, The Sea, The Skins, The Bobbies, and The Prefects factions — Selah runs the most dominant, The Spades, who cater to the most classic of vices and supply students with coveted, illegal alcohol and pills. As the school year comes to an end, Selah has to contend with the reality that she will lose control of The Spades, with sophomore upstart Paloma Celeste O’Connor making waves. As the student begins to outshine the teacher, Selah becomes determined to reassert her power, no matter the cost.
For writer-director Poe, a 2016 Sundance Institute Knight Foundation Fellow, the “Lord of the Flies”-esque drama is ultimately about young people, away from their families, at a boarding school, attempting to govern themselves, creating their own version of a regulated environment. It’s also about shedding light on the relatively unseen.
“I am always eager to see stories about the marginalia of black life, and more generally about the minutiae of being a human being,” the filmmaker said in a Sundance 2019 interview with IndieWire. “In film, in most Western storytelling, there is this false, persistent assumption that the relatable ‘every man’ story can only be successful — and therefore must only be told — with white characters at the center of them. And that's just not my jam.”
Writing a film for those who rarely see their own lives reflected on the screen, Poe said that “Selah” was inspired by “no-pulp orange juice, brutalist architecture, codes of silence, rats, ineffectual adults, control, pleats in skirts, color, Rihanna as a way of being, cardigans, friendships that leave you with gut punches, telling the truth, mind games, lying, power vacuums, and spades — the card game, the gang, the Motörhead song, the tool, the suit, the faction.”
A dynamic Simone carries the drama, playing an overachieving prep school queen, in a film that has more style than story, but it’s an extraordinary style, punctuated by a soundtrack that includes jazzy drums and snares, intercut with emo pop and Bing Crosby.
Amazon has set an April 17 release date for “Selah and the Spades” on Prime, and is developing an original series based on the teen drama, which Poe will write, direct, and produce, along with Lauren McBride, who also produced the film. Check out the film’s official trailer below.
High school can be a battlefield, but rarely has that battlefield seemed so dangerous as it does in Amazon’s stylish Sundance drama Selah and The Spades. The feature film debut of writer/director Tayarisha Poe, Selah and The Spades follows a young girl who is chosen to be the protégé of the Queen Bee of an elite Pennsylvania boarding school, and discovers that she wasn’t the first to be given this dubious honor. Watch the Selah and The Spades trailer below.
Selah and The Spades Trailer
Amazon Studios has released the official trailer for Tayarisha Poe’s feature film debut, Selah and The Spades, a stylish high school drama set in the closed world of an elite Pennsylvania boarding school. In this exclusive world, the student body is run by five factions: The Spades, The Sea, The Skins, The Bobbies, and The Prefects. Commanding the top faction is the titular Selah Summers Love Simone, who decides to choose a young protégé to take her place upon graduation. But as that sophomore upstart Paloma Celeste O’Connor soon finds, it’s a treacherous path to the top.
Selah and The Spades seems like a teen drama in the tradition of Brick or Thoroughbreds — stylish, razor-sharp, and populated by very good-looking teens who all act like characters in a noir film. The cast of fresh faces playing those characters include Jharrel Jerome, Jesse Williams, Gina Torres, and Ana Mulvoy Ten.
Here is the synopsis for Selah and The Spades:
In the closed world of an elite Pennsylvania boarding school, Haldwell, the student body is run by five factions. Seventeen-year-old Selah Summers Lovie Simone runs the most dominant group, the Spades, with unshakable poise, as they cater to the most classic of vices and supply students with coveted, illegal alcohol and pills. Tensions between the factions escalate, and when Selah’s best friend/right hand Maxxie MOONLIGHT’s Jharrel Jerome becomes distracted by a new love, Selah takes on a protégée, enamored sophomore Paloma Celeste O’Connor, to whom she imparts her wisdom on ruling the school. But with graduation looming and Paloma proving an impressively quick study, Selah’s fears turn sinister as she grapples with losing the control by which she defines herself.
In her feature debut, writer/director Tayarisha Poe immerses us in a ened depiction of teenage politics. This searing character study encapsulates just how intoxicating power can be for a teenage girl who acutely feels the threat of being denied it. Exciting newcomer Lovie Simone’s performance beautifully embodies both Selah’s publicly impeccable command and the internal fears and uncertainty that drive it.
Selah and The Spades premieres on Amazon Prime Video April 17, 2020.
Although “The L Word: Generation Q” may have tried desperately to speak to a “new generation” of queer women and non-binary folks, fresher creative voices quickly rose to the top in its place. Though people still watched. Showtime’s “Work in Progress” was the best queer comedy of the year, Netflix’s “Feel Good” was an unexpected delight, and “Vida” is returning just in time for queer audiences to catch up on the best show about queer women of color on TV. Yet another contender released a promising first trailer today: “Betty” is a stylish and youthful portrait of Brooklyn teen skaters that already appears extremely queer.
The six-part half-hour arrives on HBO from filmmaker Crystal Moselle, who quickly made waves in 2015 with her her riveting documentary hybrid “The Wolfpack.” “Betty” is adapted from her second feature, the similarly hybridized “Skate Kitchen,” which followed a group of teenage girl skaters in New York City. The film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival to positive reviews and was released by Magnolia Pictures that year.
In his B+ review of “Skate Kitchen” out of Sundance, IndieWire’s Eric Kohn wrote: “The streetwise alternative to ‘Girls,’ the movie weaves together such a complete vision of its subjects that the rest of the world barely exists. Of course, there's a long-standing precedent to capturing this subculture — ‘Kids’ did it, with more adventurous storytelling twists, more than 20 years ago — but Moselle's subjects hold their own with the surprising ability to clarify their emotions through the cathartic process of hanging out.”
“Betty” features many of the film’s original stars, most of whom had not acted before, including Kabrina Adams, Dede Lovelace, Nina Moran, Rachelle Vinberg, and Ajani Russell. All accomplished skaters in their own right, the first trailer shows the charismatic crew navigating various crushes and friendship trials with compelling panache and humor.
“Betty” is directed, co-written, and executive produced by Moselle. Lesley Arfin and Patricia Breen are also co-writers. Arfin, who also EPs, is a comedy writer best known for co-creating the Netflix series “Love” with Judd Apatow and Paul Rust.
HBO will release “Betty” beginning May 1 at 11 pm ET. Check out the exciting first trailer below: