Back when young white fans of the “Hunger Games” book spewed racism across social media at 12-year-old biracial Amandla Stenberg for playing the role of Rue in the film (laying waste to the idiot’s notion that young white America is less racist than generations before,) there was concern that the young actress might be scarred from the experience. Instead, she emerged outspoken, politically and culturally astute, and (for lots of people of all ages) a heroine for her fearlessness. All of which was amped up several notches when she came out recently as bisexual. And she’s only seventeen.
It’s perhaps not surprising, then, that she brings a biting wit and intelligence to her fledgling career as a filmmaker. As part of her application to NYU Film School, she wrote, directed, shot and edited the short Blue Girls Burn Fast, a coming-of-age film that has blackness, brownness, and queerness at its center. It’s actually her second short. The first was an adaptation of the classic feminist text “The Yellow Wallpaper.”
Blue tweaks familiar components of the coming-of-age film. Like Dee Rees’ feature Pariah, it uses a punk soundtrack to score the inner life of its black heroine Andrea (Leeza Lester,) who prefers to go by Andy. A jaded, snarky, but very funny foster child, she tosses off biting asides on race (the film has a fantastic riff on trans-black Rachel Dolezal) and the world around her. Her own world is rocked when Lea (Julia Rocha,) her neighbor from across the street, crawls into her bedroom window one night and pushes Andy into the realm of the sexuality-fluid. Funny and moving, Blue whets your appetite for whatever Stenberg might want to do next.