In spite of recent improvements, American cinema largely remains the domain of privileged white men. Therefore, the stories we’re told usually reflect this disparity. Whilst female voices are finally being heard and given financial support, the same can’t really be said for Black, Hispanic or Asian film-makers. Their histories are often co-opted by someone else. Thankfully, that’s beginning to change in independent cinema. Premature is a fantastic example of what can be achieved.
Seventeen-year-old Ayanna (Zora Howard) is biding her time before leaving Harlem to go and study at college. Her life is thrown upside down when Isaiah (Joshua Boone) arrives in town. He seems different to the other boys in the neighbourhood. He has grand ambitions and wants something more from his life. Whilst the pair have big dreams, they’re shackled by the realities around them.
Premature is a beautiful film about an Afro-American experience in contemporary America. Whilst opportunities exist and there are whole world to explore, it’s often the invisible barriers which get in the way. However, director Rashaad Ernesto Green also tells a story of love that is universal. Zora Howard is a revelation in her first lead role. She adds power and authenticity to the film and is ably supported by an impressive cast. Premature is electric and raw cinema. It needs to be seen.
Premature screens again at London Film Festival on 7 October.