This Week in Media: From Mediterranea to Munchies

This week I satisfied my wanderlust by watching The Munchies Guide To street food in Berlin and became re-energized to start editing my documentary thanks to the trailer for the feature film, Mediterranea. For those of  you who, like me, want to support independent films about people of color, buy tickets to this evening’s screening of Ayanda at the Schomburg Center.


Thanks to the Reel Sisters Film Festival listserv, I learned of the film Ayanda. Distributed by Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY, the movie focuses on Ayanda, a young South African woman, as she tries to revive her father’s car repair garage and preserve his memory. I intend to post a review of the film this weekend, but I wanted to make sure to give it a plug before the last screening here in New York. Head over to the Schomburg Center today, November 20, at 5 p.m. to support a funny, heartfelt indie film that showcases the rich diversity of one African community.


Mediterranea tells the story of two friends from Burkina Faso as they journey to Italy and are met with hostility as they try to begin a new life. Unlike other treatments of this extremely timely issue, the film is not a documentary, but rather narrative fiction, with many of the events based on the life experiences of its lead actor, Koudous Seihon. If the haunting images in the trailer are any example, the film does an excellent job of capturing the many obstacles migrants face, from surviving bandits in the Sahara desert to performing low-paying agricultural jobs in Southern Italy. Though a number of intense scenes flash by, the migrant-led protests in Rosarno will certainly be of particular interest to audiences as they have not been depicted before.

The film, which is director Jonas Carpignano’s debut feature, was chosen for inclusion in Critics’s Week at the Cannes Film Festival and has already received a number of accolades. You can catch Mediterranea on iTunes and at the IFC Center through November 26. Be on the look out for a long-form review of the film in the next couple of weeks!


The Munchies Guide To combines two of my favorite things: delicious food and exotic locales. Produced by Vice, the Berlin edition is hosted by Kavita Goodstar. Her first stop introduces viewers to the city’s Thai market. Originally started as a place for local Thai women to gather with their children during lunchtime, it has evolved, over 25 years later, into a homespun market of authentic Thai food. Sitting on the grass with tiny hot plates and umbrellas, the women sell everything from hot soup to hibiscus drinks.

After a visit to Neukölln for a traditional Berliner potato pancake, which is topped with fresh applesauce, the episode closes with a visit to two Turkish restaurants. It’s an appropriate fit since, as Kavita notes, the Turks were responsible for bringing street food to Berlin via the now infamous Döner. As she prepares to eat kumpir, a baked potato stuffed with butter and cheese, among other things, the server tries to convince her that the dish is actually healthy. It’s a funny moment that calls to mind my own experience of hearing Italians defend their carb-laden diet.

Bonus Points: What If + Uptown Funk Mashup

1. What If

When I first saw this trailer two years ago, my interest was not piqued. Despite being set in a metropolitan city, none of the main characters were people of color. This fact, combined with what appeared to be witty humor aimed at millennials (a la Girls), led me to conclude the film was not intended for me.

However, for reasons unknown, I paused my channel surfing this past Tuesday long enough to get drawn into the film. The film’s brand of “intelligent” humor made me laugh and  was not condescending. Zoe Kazan and Daniel Radcliffe have great on-screen chemistry as friends, striking a balance between awkward self-consciousness and fast-paced banter. Though it is hardly believable that Daniel Radcliffe and Adam Driver would be close friends, their scenes were surprisingly funny. Radcliffe is certainly not my favorite actor (I’m still salty about his performance in Harry Potter), but he has gained my respect thanks to his serious comedic chops. The movie critics were right on this one: What If is a quality rom-com that is actually funny.

2. Uptown Funk and Old Hollywood Dancing

I stumbled across this video thanks to an article from Slate. Nerd Fest UK created an absolutely spectacular mashup of everyone’s favorite funk-heavy hit from this summer, Uptown Funk, with dance numbers from some of Old Hollywood’s most iconic films. The result is a feel-good video that leaves you smiling from beginning to end. The dance moves go surprisingly well with the track, no doubt thanks in part to spot-on editing. Some of my favorites are featured-namely Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, and the Nicholas Brothers-and their energy and humor are infectious, just like the song. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some classic Hollywood musicals to catch up on.

Author’s Note: Turn on the captions for a list of the films featured in the video.


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