Miss Juneteenth is a 2020 American drama film written and directed by Channing Godfrey Peoples and starring Nicole Beharie, Kendrick Sampson, and Alexis Chikaeze. The plot follows a single mom and former teen beauty queen who enters her daughter into the local Miss Juneteenth pageant. The film premiered at Sundance in January 2020, and was released via video on demand on June 19, 2020, coinciding with the 155th anniversary of the titular holiday.
Official promotional poster
|Directed by||Channing Godfrey Peoples|
|Written by||Channing Godfrey Peoples|
|Music by||Emily Rice|
|Edited by||Courtney Ware|
|Distributed by||Vertical Entertainment|
Turquoise Jones (Nicole Beharie), is a single mother in a suburb of Fort Worth, Texas. She is the former winner of the local Miss Juneteenth pageant which offers full scholarships to college. She enters her 15-year-old daughter, Kai (Alexis Chikaeze) in the same pageant despite her daughter's obvious lack of enthusiasm.
While other former Miss Juneteenth winners have gone on to have successful careers Turquoise's education was derailed by the birth of Kai, which forced her to drop out of college and for a time work as a stripper. To make ends meet she currently works at a bar and part time as a beautician at a mortuary where the owner is romantically interested in her. However Turquoise is still in love with Kai's father Ronnie and the two continue sleeping together despite officially being separated.
Kai struggles with her preparations for the Miss Juneteenth pageant, wanting to pursue dance instead. When her father fails to come through with the money for her pageant dress she is forced to compete in her mother's old gown.
The Miss Juneteenth pageant goes forward. To Turquoise's surprise for Kai's talent she performs Maya Angelou's Phenomenal Woman, the poem that Turquoise performed herself and had been pushing Kai to perform, but set to dance. Turquoise is proud of her performance but nevertheless Kai fails to even place in the Miss Juneteenth pageant.
After the owner of the bar where she works suffers heart problems he lets Turquoise know that he must sell the bar. However she offers him a counter proposal, offering to slowly buy out his business. He accepts and Turquoise begins her new life as a businesswoman.
The director of photography was Daniel Patterson, the production designer was Olivia Peebles, and Rachel Dainer-Best was the costume designer. Filming took place during July and August 2019 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Miss Juneteenth premiered at Sundance 2020 in the U.S. Dramatic Competition.
The film made $20,946 from six theaters in its opening weekend (an average of $3,491 per venue), finishing sixth among reported films.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 99% based on 91 reviews, with an average rating of 7.72/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "Like a pageant winner walking across the stage, Miss Juneteenth follows a familiar path – but does so with charm and grace." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 73 out of 100, based on 23 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Writing for The New York Times, Lovia Gyarkye praised the film's diverse themes: "The movie tackles multitudinous themes in its roughly 100 minutes, from the significance of Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, to the legacy of racism in predatory bank lending practices. But what’s most impressive is the amount of space Peoples’s black female characters inhabit in the narrative." Angelica Jade Bastien, writing in New York magazine's blog Vulture, said: "Miss Juneteenth isn't trying to make grand proclamations about what it means to be Black in America today. The film is too smart for such grandstanding. Instead, it revels in watching Black folks just be."
Writing for Variety, Dennis Harvey said that: "This portrait of a whole community dogged by debt and diminishing prospect has a basic authenticity that will ring true for many viewers unaccustomed to seeing themselves onscreen... Rewarding if somewhat predictable in its overall storytelling arc, the indie drama might look more attractive to buyers if another editorial pass tightened its sometimes too-leisurely tempo a bit." David Roonet of The Hollywood Reporter wrote: "Whenever Peoples returns her gaze to the intimate bond between Turquoise and Kai, with the push and pull of their relationship, its challenges and rewards, played out with exquisite understatement by Beharie and Chikaeze, this becomes a satisfying portrait of hope and resilience."
- "Low Budget Film Casting Notice" ("The SAG Low Budget Agreement applies to films with budgets between $700,000 and $2,500,000"). SAG-AFTRA. Retrieved June 21, 2020.
- "Miss Juneteenth (2020)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 7, 2020.
- Harvey, Dennis; Harvey, Dennis (2020-01-25). "'Miss Juneteenth': Film Review". Variety. Retrieved 2020-06-19.
- "'Miss Juneteenth': Film Review | Sundance 2020". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2020-06-19.
- N'Duka, Amanda (2020-01-25). "'Miss Juneteenth' Tells A Story Of Two Women "Who Come Into Their Own In A Different Way" – Sundance Studio". Deadline. Retrieved 2020-01-26.
- Tallerico, Brian. "Sundance 2020: Bad Hair, Miss Juneteenth | Sundance | Roger Ebert". www.rogerebert.com. Retrieved 2020-01-26.
- Hipes, Patrick (2020-04-14). "Sundance Pic 'Miss Juneteenth' To Hit Screens In June With Vertical Entertainment Deal". Deadline. Retrieved 2020-05-21.
- "A Former Beauty Queen Returns in 'Miss Juneteenth' Trailer (Exclusive)". Entertainment Tonight. Retrieved 2020-05-21.
- "Domestic 2020 Weekend 25 - June 19-21". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 21, 2020.
- "Miss Juneteenth (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 7, 2020.
- "Miss Juneteenth Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved June 29, 2020.
- Gyarkye, Lovia (2020-06-18). "'Miss Juneteenth' Review: Celebrating Black Girlhood". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-06-19.
- Bastién, Angelica Jade (2020-06-19). "Miss Juneteenth Is a Gently Beautiful Film Worth Celebrating". Vulture. Retrieved 2020-06-19.