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  • Own Voice

Subjects of Desire

Director Jennifer Holness
Year 2021
Run Time 103min
Genre Documentary

In this powerful documentary, filmmaker Jennifer Holness takes an incisive look at why our society enforces such impossible and conflicting beauty standards on Black women. The treatment of Black Women in our culture is rarely given the attention it deserves, but Holness uses the 50th anniversary of the Miss Black America pageant as a jumping off point to explore everything from the media’s continued reinforcement of damaging and reductive archetypes to the recent explosion of cultural appropriation trends.

Featuring a variety of interviews with beauty experts, prominent Black women in the media, pageant contestants and more, Holness doesn’t hold back from exposing the harsh truths about the world we live in.

“Both critical and celebratory, Jennifer Holness’ packed and penetrating documentary Subjects of Desire provides a superb overview of how Black culture has influenced, and been influenced by, contemporary beauty ideals from Civil War times to #BlackGirlMagic and beyond.” – Jessica Kiang, Variety


Jennifer Holness

Holness is a director, writer, and producer whose producing credits include award-winning films Stateless, Guns, and Love, Sex, and Eating the Bones, and series like She’s the Mayor and Shoot the Messenger. She wrote and directed Subjects of Desire and recently received the Canadian Media Producers Association’s Established Producer Award, and directed an episode of the series BLK: An Origin Story. Next, she is producing the feature Rip Tide.


Jennifer Holness


India Arie, Jully Black, Alexandra Germain


Jennifer Holness, Sudz Sutherland




Arts and Culture, BIPOC Stories, Discrimination, Female Filmmaker, History, Social Justice & Politics, Strong Female Leads

Original Language


Canadian Distributor