AWFJ Presents WE LOVE MOSES – Review by Jamie Broadnax

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In the short film We Love Moses, a 12-year-old’s secret crush on her brother’s best friend is scrutinized. In one moment, her life and his are changed dramatically in one shocking plot twist. The movie explores girlhood, relationships, and sexuality.

The prolifically themed coming of age story is written and directed by Dionne Edwards, and the film’s protagonist is Ella, played by actor Danae Jean-Marie.

Ella has a crush on her brother’s best friend Moses (Jerome Holder). She constantly scribbles in her notebook about her adoration for Moses and, for this, she is incessantly teased by her classmates. Ella often tags along with Moses and her brother Michael (Raphel Famotibe). However, one fateful day, she uncovers a secret that forever changes the lives of everyone in this narrative.

With gorgeous cinematography and brave performances this short film dares to uncover girlhood, repression, femininity, masculinity, secrets and shame. And it unpacks all of that through a young Black female gaze.

While the film’s director says that the movie is not autobiographical in nature, she has pulled from her own experiences as a child who was nosey, obsessive and inquisitive — much like Ella in the movie’s story. The journey in writing the script for We Love Moses took seven years for Edwards. She had the idea in her head for the story behind We Love Moses for two years.

What is important to take away from Edwards’ film is that it uniquely authentically looks at sexuality and sexual expression through the lens of a Black girl. That is what is being uniquely scrutinized in this narrative, and throughout the history of cinema this territory has been largely uncharted. Stories dealing with Black girls having repressed sexual desires are quite rare.

Another example of a film that has done this quite beautifully is Dee Rees feature film Pariah, released in 2011. That’s a story of a Black girl who embraces her identity as lesbian, but often times found that those desires had to be repressed.

While these are important stories to tell, and have been told in queer cinema, oftentimes, we don’t get as many of these stories projected from the Black female gaze. We Love Moses, albeit a short film, touches on those issues and director Dionne Edwards is willing to be bold with taking those risks. It’s most certainly a film worth your time and definitely sticks with you long after viewing it.

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Jamie Broadnax (Archived Contributor)

Jamie Broadnax is the founder and publisher of Black Girl Nerds.