Gabourey Sidibe's directorial debut, The Tale Of Four, resonates as a poignant call-to-action for the Black Lives Matter generation. Created as part of Refinery29's Shatterbox Anthology, Sidibe's film draws inspiration from Nina Simone's haunting 1966 song, Four Women, to boldly spotlight the often-unheard voices of the Black community — the harrowing realities of stories touched by domestic violence, police brutality, and the specter of mass incarceration.
Sidibe, who rose to worldwide fame after her Oscar-nominated performance in 2009's Precious, is no stranger to bringing the struggles of marginalized women to center stage. The Tale Of Four, which premiered to rave reviews this past June at the Nantucket Film Festival and features Sidibe's Empire co-star, Jussie Smollett, doesn't shy away from capturing the power or the pain of the continued struggle for equality.
Weaving together narratives from female activists, sexual assault survivors, and the children of imprisoned moms, the short film resonates as a portrait of contemporary American society still infected by the racism elegized by Simone over 50 years ago. But if the brave women of Sidibe's short seem doomed to have to fight the same cruelties and prejudices perpetrated against Black bodies for centuries, their fearless honesty also echoes the hope that things might finally start to change. "As I do with most things I’m afraid of, I talk about them, make them audible, hoping that addressing the fear will alleviate it," Sidibe told Refinery29 earlier this year. "That’s what the film is about: addressing it, saying it out loud, and hoping that through sharing my fear and my outrage that it will cause more outrage and more fear."
An unflinching look at the everyday trauma endured by people of color in this country, The Tale Of Four feels as heartbreakingly familiar as it is enduringly relevant. Watch the full short film above, which premiered on Refinery29 on October 24, 2017.
Refinery29 is thrilled to be showing this Shatterbox Anthology film. Just 7% of 2016's top films were directed by women. Refinery29 wants to change this by giving 12 female directors a chance to claim their power. Our message to Hollywood? You can't win without women. Watch new films every month on Refinery29.com/Shatterbox