Ewurakua Dawson-Amoah’s poetic short, co-written by Dawson-Amoah and Adeleke Ode, To The Girl That Looks Like Me summarises a key component of being black: hair. And with it, all the other bits and pieces that come attached, like shame, and the scrutinising eyes that cause the shame.
In a five-minute runtime, the narrator’s powerful voice takes the audience through an inner world common to too many. It begins at shame—grief even—at being born black, at needing cornrows, at needing someone else to do your hair, while a white world looks on with question, judgement, and worst of all, mockery. The narration keeps moving, pausing to look at the painful irony of appropriation: silky hair on white heads braided into cornrows. And on it keeps going, to come upon a space clawed out by black hands where one is black without shame. There is celebration and fierce pride; a reclamation of what should never have been taken. The minimalistic music gives centre stage to the narration, which utilises the beats and relative silences such that labeling it poetry is absolutely justified.
The shots are beautifully composed, incorporating sharp, neat lines with dark, peeling old walls in its opening sequence: there is poverty and struggle, but also an unbroken spirit. The harsh lighting emphasizes the debasing experience of being thus scrutinized by a white crowd. Throughout the film, its visual style—showing a strong influence of contemporary art—makes explicit the inner emotional world of the character we follow. It is simultaneously specific and personal, and shared. The editing imbues it with potent energy and beauty channelised from righteous anger.
To The Girl That Looks Like Me is acutely specific to the black experience, but its themes hold wider appeal, as does its compelling narration style. The feelings at the core of being abused, oppressed, and discriminated against, after all, do overlap across groups.
And for filmmaking enthusiasts, there is many a lesson to glean here.
Watch To the Girl that Looks Like Me Short Film
To The Girl That Looks Like Me: Powerful Portrayal Of Anger And Self-Actualization