JUST ANOTHER GIRL ON THE I.R.T.
Co-presented with Alfreda's Cinema
Directed by Leslie Harris
With Ariyan A. Johnson, Ebony Jerido, Kevin Thigpen
Approx. 92 min. DCP.
"Chantel (Ariyan A. Johnson), is a junior in a Brooklyn high school—a black student in a school and a neighborhood where all of her classmates and all of her friends and acquaintances are black. She lives in a housing project with her parents and two younger brothers. Chantel’s parents work long hours—her mother’s on the day shift, her father on the night shift—so she’s responsible for getting her brothers up and off to school in the morning. Chantel herself works part-time at a food store (the scenes were filmed at the famous Zabar’s), and, noting the absurd luxuries that a high-handed and contemptuous white woman takes for granted, she accepts no guff from this customer and risks her job to push back at her. Chantel’s parents fight over money and struggle bitterly for it; her mother is denied a long-awaited promotion.
Chantel is also an excellent student whose plan to attend college and become a doctor—an ambition that’s depicted as atypical in her circle of peers—has two motivations: for her to be of service to the community, and to make a good living without a “boss.” Chantel’s intense practicality and focus is still that of a high-school junior—one who’s in a hurry in all sorts of ways. She wants to graduate a year early and get to college (and leave the neighborhood) all the faster; she also wants a social life, and struggles against her wary and protective parents for a bit of freedom. The pressures of her conflicts with her parents and also the stresses of her daily life break into drama when Chantel begins a relationship with a suave young man named Tyrone (Kevin Thigpen). She becomes pregnant and must decide whether to have an abortion. She also has to face the crisis of letting her parents, her peers, and her school know that she’s pregnant—and how she does so is the dramatic crux of the movie."
– Richard Brody, The New Yorker