Some time ago I wrote about an upcoming equestrian short film by Sybil H. Mair, called The Adventures of Selika, starring Karidja Toure as the lead role. At the time, filming had only just begun and was still in its early stages. As a lover of all things equestrian I was particularly excited to see a young black écuyère brought to the forefront in such an artistic way, and a story around her life being reimagined and told through film. Sadly I was unable to honour my invitation the London film premiere but I’ve now had the pleasure of watching the film, and it’s now also available for you all to purchase.
As previously mentioned, Selika Lazevski was a 19th century black écuyère, a haut dressage rider who rode in French circuses and hippodromes. Very little is known about her, so the film imagines her intriguing story based on the famous portrait of her taken by the renowned French photographer Felix Nadar. The tale fits the image perfectly, and though the film is short, it feels very much as if we are embarking on a journey with Selika, discovering the path she has chosen to take – setting off to Paris to create her own destiny, and forge her existence within that society.
I love the fact that the premise leaves many questions unanswered, and leaves us wanting more. Sybil tells me a feature screenplay is in the process of being developed, which is fantastic news! Keep your eyes peeled, I’m sure it’ll be another masterpiece.
I had already seen behind-the-scenes photos so I knew more or less what to expect. However, the final piece exceeded my expectations. Karidja Toure gives a flawless performance and the film is simply beautifully written. I was mesmerized by the cinematography, a stunning piece of work filmed with tremendous attention to detail. The locations and costumes all look very authentic, making the viewing experience a complete immersion into that era.
Without going into full think-piece mode, I do want to note the importance of stories like these being told. There are different layers to this film and it does explore race and romance, among other things. I love the fact that Sybil H. Mair has chosen to focus on an untold story – and it is because Selika’s story has remained untold throughout the centuries that today there seems to be a common assumption that people of colour didn’t hold a place of value as horsemen and horsewomen within white dominated societies. It is because of the untold stories of black women like Selika that we struggle to imagine the possibility that people of colour could have thrived as equestrians in those days. If films like The Adventures of Selika can play a part in dismantling these assumptions, I’ll be glad to continue bringing attention to such work on my blog.
Facebook: The Adventures of Selika
Follow Sybil H. Mair on Instagram for more news about her upcoming endeavours including the feature screenplay currently being developed for The adventures of Selika.