Film

We Asked People Which Empowering Movies To Watch Instead Of Trump’s Inauguration

Today we should give ourselves a break and watch something that makes us feel stronger.

Tonight, in the very dead of night, Australians with severe schadenfreude may wish to stay awake to watch a pussy-grabbing demagogue be sworn in as president of the United States.

This will be a positive event for at least one person: Jon Voight, who is reportedly the only actor attending Donald Trump’s inauguration. It’ll give him a chance to lurch back into relevancy for the first time since that Seinfeld episode.

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But for many people from historically marginalised backgrounds in America and around the world, it will be a sad and frightening day. Trump has the support of white supremacists, is on record bragging about sexually assaulting women, and has famously called for Muslims to be banned from the country he will soon be running. He has also alienated disabled and LGBTIQ communities.

Given that today will officially mark the beginning of four years of struggle for many communities, I think we should give ourselves a break and watch something that makes us feel stronger and more powerful. I asked around to find out what movies people watch to feel empowered.


Yassmin Abdel-Magied: Mechanical Engineer, Activist and Writer

When asked what movie she would watch instead of Trump’s inauguration, Abdel-Magied’s response was immediate: Disney’s Queen of Katwe.

“Hearing about a Hollywood or Disney film set in Africa often fills me with dread, as more often than not it ends up being a story about death, famine, war,” she says. “But to watch a film that is about the continent of my birth, which celebrates the stories and the talents of its people… it was truly a joy.”

Starring Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo, Queen of Katwe is the true story of Ugandan chess champion Phiona Mutesi and her dreams of doing big things from an impoverished area of Kampala.

“It showed the characters in all their true human nuance, a reality that is often missed in stories about people of colour,” Abdel-Magied says. “To see Uganda as I know it, in all its joy, song and vibrancy, lifted my heart.”

“Even better though, [the film is about] a strong, young female character that was powerful, beautiful and human — and greatest of all, true. I can’t recommend the film more — watch it, and share with me in the triumph.”


Priya Malik — Comedian and TV Personality

Priya Malik is familiar with men in authority only paying attention to what she looks like, and not her four university degrees or PhD candidate status. When talking about cricked as a sports anchor in India, a crew member once told her to “calm her t*ts”. This is a level of discourse that unfortunately has become even more familiar with Donald Trump as the leader of the free world.

Malik’s choice of empowering film was specifically chosen with the President-Elect in mind. “I’d watch a Hindi one to piss him off even more and to get more enthused about my Indianness,” she said.

“I recently watched a film named Parched set in rural India. It is a story about three women confined by the shackles of their daily lives which include sexual assault and domestic violence and the lack of freedom to be. Their thirst for better lives lead them onto a revolutionary path where being ‘parched’ is no longer an option. Not even for golden showers.”


Maria Lewis — Journalist and Author

Maria Lewis chose an Irish horror movie to satiate your rage as the world doubles down on the patriarchy. “Nothing makes me feel more powerful or strong than boss women doing boss shit,” she says.

Byzantium is a gothic horror flick that’s all about women claiming power and freedom for themselves in a world where they’re suffocated by men. In this case the very literal manifestation of the patriarchy is an ancient order of vampires who only pass down immortality from rich-white-dude-to-rich-white-dude.

Clara (Gemma Arterton) interrupts that sausage-fest by becoming the first female vampire and immediately sets out to ‘to bring justice to those who prey on the weak and to curb the power of men’. Once she shares that power with her daughter, the story really kicks into gear.

“The ladies fight for each other and for their right to live however the fuck they wanna live,” Maria says.


Dee Fidge — Comedian and Writer

When you’re facing the apocalyptic implosion of a major global superpower, sometimes you need some light relief. Twitter hero Dee Fidge is on it with the 1997 work of filmic art, Spice World. You know, the Spice Girls’ movie, where they ride around London having adventures in a double-decker bus that has beanbags and a swing and even a gym for Mel C.

This it the film around which every girl in my primary school (ageing myself here) centred our religious devotion.

Fidge often writes about mental illness, and is also a bit of a queer icon for young Australians. She points out that it’s hard to find movies about someone with her background that aren’t deeply tragic. Though Spice World doesn’t explicitly deal with these issues, she says that it’s “a film that celebrates women and humour; my two favourite things… I watch it at least once a year as a feel-good escape”.

“The lighthearted pure joy [of Spice World] brings me a sense of calm. I don’t often find fictional characters I identify with that aren’t depressing or from Girl Interrupted, so this is a go-to film for when I need boosting up.”

The best bit? Spice World features more cameos than Trump’s inauguration will.

Kaitlyn Plyley is a freelance writer and the host of conversation podcast Just A Spoonful. She tweets from @kplyley.