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'White Girl' Evokes NYC Nostalgia While Tackling Privilege And Power Dynamics

"My goal isn’t to shock, it’s to be real and authentic. Which can sometimes be shocking.”

White Girl, written and directed by Elizabeth Wood, is an epic portrayal of New York City's hazy summer scene. The film follows Leah (Morgan Saylor), an over-the-top college freshman who moves to Brooklyn with her best friend. After eyes lock, a curious interest sparks between Leah and Puerto Rican dope purveyor Blue (Brian ‘Sene’ Marc), resulting in a tragic romance. After Blue gets caught up in the drug enterprise and thrown in jail, Leah goes to extreme ends to get him back. Starring Hamilton's Anthony Ramos and Sex and the City's Chris Noth, White Girl tackles white privilege and points at current racial politics.

Through 88 minutes of raunchy sex, various drugs and obscene profanity, you get a filthy feel of what the darker side of 5th Avenue looks like. One thing that immediately grabs your attention is the merger of Latino drug dealers and Anglo women new to Brooklyn. It's a cross between what New York City was and its new gentrified identity that we're seeing today. Whether the film is a real portrayal of New York City streets or an overly-dramatized one is up for debate, but the raw conversation that this film creates is its true purpose. White Girl invites its audience to a conversation on the topics of gentrification, socio-economic issues, the party scene and rape culture, leaving some with a sense of discomfort in their reality.

“I want people to think about the film," Wood told Indie Wire. "I know there are plenty of times I walk out of a movie theater and am just thinking about what I want to eat, so if the film is on their mind, it was a triumph.”

Leah's frizzy platinum blonde hair and charismatic, yet loony smile gives for a captivating performance. Described by Saylor as "ready to party," "open" and "adventurous," her character is very complicated in nature as she is still exploring herself while we, the onlookers, simultaneously try to figure her out. New to the streets of the Big Apple, Leah gets a sobering reality check when she realizes she's a young, white woman in an environment inhabited by generations of people of color, also riddled with machismo. When she's left with the dangerous task of selling Blue's large amount of cocaine, she makes full use of the leverage behind her body and the color of her skin. "She's dealing with the implications of being white, of being female and also cocaine," Wood said to The Wrap. "This is a girl exploring the world in its own, realizing her whiteness, realizing the power structure of what it means to use sex, to use being a woman, to use race."

Set wise, it's New York City down to the core, with bodegas and fire escapes galore, and an orchestra of police sirens and train screeches. You get a sense of familiarity when watching the film, which is already being compared to Larry Clark's controversial 1995 film, Kids.

Clark has reportedly been a strong influence on Wood during the film's creation. Kids brought to light the unsettling truth of New York City's youth and their taboo approach to drugs and sex during the rise of AIDS. Not only did the film make the hairs on your back stand up, but it discussed a controversial topic when no one else did. White Girl is said to be a millennial version of Kids, however, approaching different conversations.

In 2013, Elizabeth Wood earned an MFA in Screenwriting at Columbia University, before penning the screenplay based loosely on her own experiences as an eccentric white girl. “I’ve got intense sensibilities,” Wood described in an interview with Variety. “I just like to feel things. My goal isn’t to shock, it’s to be real and authentic. Which can sometimes be shocking.”

Absorbing that intensity in her writing, she completed the screenplay for White Girl and began production in 2015, despite budgeting problems. When her financier dropped out last minute, Wood relied on budget cuts and private investors to bring her project to fruition. Soon thereafter, her widely talked-about film made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival with a nomination for the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize. It also won first place at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Later, the film's streaming rights were picked up by Netflix.

White Girl will be released in select theaters on Sept. 2. For information on early, private screenings, visit here.

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Ozuna And Darell Travel Through An Industrial Conquest Denouncing A Bad Love In "Vacia Sin Mi"

Gloomy cloudy skies are looming over an industrial like setting dotted with huge heavy duty trucks, as beautiful young ladies clad in yellow jumpsuits surround Ozuna in the visuals for his new single, “Vacia Sin Mi” featuring Latin trap artist Darell.

The new track is centered around the plight behind a romance gone wrong, and Ozuna is denouncing the love interest that did him wrong.  Through a hypnotic slow beat, he sings on beat about wanting nothing to do with her. He’s moved on and so should she. Darell assists the singer with brash vocals, which sound like the Spanish version of rapper Future’s signature raspy syrupy drawl.

“We want to show people a completely new concept, always looking to surprise the fans that have always supported my artistic career,” Ozuna stated in a press release.  

“Vacia Sin Mi” is the 27 year-old’s latest single off his forthcoming project NIBURU, which will be released under the record label Dimelo Vi. Just recently, the reggaeton artist made history by garnering 23 nominations for the 2019 Billboard Latin Music Awards.

We’re curious to see what new music and sound his forthcoming project will bring. Last year, he told VIBE VIVA about his previous album, Aura and what it represents for him. "Aura" is what one reflects in the heart, what you bring into the world, and what people want to learn from you,” he said. “In this situation particularly, it reflects what I have learned from fame, from all this going around my life. I interpreted all that in this album. I made international collaborations, which is something that didn’t exist in the past.”

Watch the video for “Vacia Sin Mi” above.

 

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Two Former Cops Arrested For Murder Of Brazilian Politician and Activist Marielle Franco

Brazilian activist and councilwoman Marielle Franco was murdered almost a year ago on March 14 2018, along with her driver Anderson Gomes. Now almost a year since Franco's brutal murder, suspects have been named and arrested in the case.

"Two police officers were arrested for direct and effective participation in the crime," said Rio de Janeiro's state police secretary, Marcus Vinícius Braga. "With these arrests, we get close to solving the crime."

Franco was a well-known activist in Rio de Janeiro and she used her platform to speak out on police brutality and on the behalf of Black Brazilians who have been fighting the rampant racism in their country. Just a day before her death Franco had attended a discussion titled "Young Black Women Moving [Power] Structures" and just a couple of hours later was allegedly shot by the arrested suspect retired military officer Ronnie Lessa with the assistance of the expelled cop, and another suspect, Élcio Vieira Queiroz, who was driving the car.

Franco was clearly targeted given her candidness when speaking about the corruption that plagues the Brazilian police force and the color of her skin is what convinced the men that their actions would go unnoticed. Brazilian prosecutors have stated that Franco's assassination was planned three months in advance by the two individuals, however, they are also now looking into whether Lessa and Queiroz were hired to kill Franco by someone else.

Following the arrests Gomes' widow, Ágatha Reis spoke out. "It is a weight that is starting to lift off my shoulders," Reis said. "I cannot be completely at peace. They still have to tell us who ordered these killings. It doesn't end here." Reis sentiments were echoed by supporters of Franco as #WhoOrderedMariellesMurder trended on Twitter soon after the arrests as well.

This is the first step towards justice for Franco and Gomes and it must not be the last.

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Bronx City Councilman Unveils Street In Memory Of Lesandro "Junior" Guzman-Feliz

Honoring the victim in the tragic and fatal case of mistaken identity, a New York City street has been renamed in tribute to Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz, CBS New York reports.

Guzman-Feliz was killed by members of the Trinitarios gang in the summer of 2018 after a group of its members mistakenly thought he was somebody else. He was 15. His story gained nationwide media coverage after footage showed multiple men attacking him with machetes.

It was announced that the Bathgate Avenue block would be renamed on July 25 and now nearly eight months later, the street sign has officially been unveiled. With both the family and city council members of the revel in tow, Councilman Ritchie Torres delivered a beautiful speech honoring the late Bronx native.

 

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A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words❤️🙏🏼😩 . . . Cr: @justice4junjun #justiceforjunior #justiceforjunior💔 #lesandroguzmanfeliz #juniorsworld #happybirthdayleandra #happybirthday #ripjunior #e4j #j4j #llj #longlivejunior #flyhighjunior #forever15 #restinpeacejunior

A post shared by 👼🏽JUSTICE FOR JUNIOR👼🏽🗣 (@rip_junior15) on Feb 27, 2019 at 12:49pm PST

 

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The Crowd Sang Happy Birthday To Leandra😩😭❤️ Btw THE SIGN IS UP ITS OFFICIAL😭 . . . #justiceforjunior💔 #justiceforjunior #forever15 #juniorsworld #longlivejunior #stoptheviolence #justice #e4j #j4j #flyhighjunior #lesandroguzmanfeliz #ripjunior #restinpeacejunior #restinheaven

A post shared by 👼🏽JUSTICE FOR JUNIOR👼🏽🗣 (@rip_junior15) on Feb 27, 2019 at 7:48am PST

 

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A Bittersweet Moment😭❤️🙏🏼🤴🏽 Long Live Junior👼🏽 . . . Cr: @camaro_clutch #justiceforjunior💔 #justiceforjunior #forever15 #juniorsworld #longlivejunior #stoptheviolence #justice #e4j #j4j #flyhighjunior #lesandroguzmanfeliz #ripjunior #restinpeacejunior #restinheaven

A post shared by 👼🏽JUSTICE FOR JUNIOR👼🏽🗣 (@rip_junior15) on Feb 27, 2019 at 8:01am PST

“It is Junior’s memory that inspired the governor of New York to invest over $18 million in new funds for youth programming right here in the Bronx. It is Junior’s memory that inspired both the mayor and the City Council to bring new gang violence prevention services right here to the 48th Precinct," Torres said. "And it is Junior’s memory that inspired the Bronx borough president, partnering with New York State’s parks and the Fresh Air Fund, to create an upstate summer program for Bronx youth known as Camp Junior. These commemorations of Junior’s memory represent only the beginning. Junior’s impact will last as his spirit lives on.”

He went on to say, “we should remember Junior not only for the tragic loss of his life in an unspeakable act of violence. We should remember him for the lives he has saved and the lives he will save because of the legacy he leaves behind—a legacy that I am honored to memorialize right here on Bathgate and 183rd. This street will forever be the home, will forever tell the story of Lesandro ‘Junior’ Guzman-Feliz.”

 

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