4YE At TIFF: The Hate U Give Is Powerful And Timely

Credit: 20th Century Fox

One of my most highly anticipated films to make its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival this year was The Hate U Give which is the movie adaptation of the book (of the same name) by Angie Thomas.

The Hate U Give was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement along with some personal experience from the author herself (Thomas makes a cameo appearance in the film so keep an eye out for that).

The novel skyrocketed to the top of the bestseller charts and has been on the young adults New York Times Bestseller list for 80 weeks.

Yeah, you read that right. 80 weeks.

And 80 weeks later it is still sitting on top of that list.

The Hate U Give is a story about Starr Carter (played by the marvelous Amandla Stenberg) who is trying to navigate through her life being two different people.

The first is who she is with when she is at home in Garden Heights – a predominately black neighborhood – with her friends and family. The second is who she is at her predominately white private high school – Williamson – with her friends and her boyfriend Chris (KJ Apa).

The two lives Starr is living gets disrupted by an extremely terrible situation.

After seeing Khalil (Algee Smith), a childhood friend and former crush, at a party the two leave once a fight breaks out and on their way home they get pulled over by a police officer. After one wrong move by Khalil, that is misinterpreted, the police officer shoots Khalil dead and Starr is the only witness who isn’t the officer.

Sounds a little too familiar of a story, huh?

The story then follows Starr as she tries to figure out her identity as a black woman and what she wants to do. Should she stay silent, should she talk, how should she deal with people at her school using the shooting as a way out of school. Should she mention things that could get her in trouble within her own community?

The Hate U Give, directed by George Tillman Jr., is truly a phenomenal film from the cast (Stenberg, Smith, Apa, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, Anthony Mackie, Issa Rae, Common, Sabrina Carpenter, Lamar Johnson, and TJ Wright to just name a few) to the way the movie, much like the novel, doesn’t back away from the voice of the youth – it embraces it.

The film is so very powerful and is going to be an extremely important movie for everyone to see. And I mean everyone.

As a white person I won’t touch what this movie is going to mean to the black audience because that’s not my place to do so but I will say with certainty that a lot of white people may feel uncomfortable watching this movie but that’s a good thing!

Don’t shy away from them, go see it! Feel uncomfortable, learn, understand.

I can’t stress how much I loved this movie – almost as much as the book which is saying something.

It does help that the screenplay by Audrey Wells was very true to the novel.

I laughed, I cried, I felt every emotion pouring out of Stenberg (have I mentioned how incredible she is in this).

This was the last film I ended up seeing at TIFF and it was definitely a saving the best for last moment.

The Hate U Give will hit theatres on October 19. If you haven’t already check out the trailer below:

Melissa LoParco
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