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From Midnight in Paris (2019), dir. James Blagden & Roni Moore (image courtesy Metrograph)

“Midnight in Paris” was the theme for the 2012 prom at Flint Northern High School. Filmmakers James Blagden and Roni Moore followed some of the students that year as they prepared for the event, also interviewing their family members, as well as sundry school staff. Prom as a cultural institution is one of the most prominent dramatic devices in stories about teenagers, and yet it’s not often that we see the prom experiences of Black students featured in film and TV.

This was a few years before Flint, Michigan would become known nationwide for its (still ongoing) water crisis. The kids wryly comment on how their town is only talked about in terms of crime and poverty. Midnight in Paris defies this convention, instead finding both the large and small joys in everyday life for the teens and their families. Moore and Blagden have an impeccable sense for where to place their cameras to observe the proceedings with gentle curiosity. This is a supremely winning, often very funny movie that will surely evoke many fond memories of one’s own youth.

Midnight in Paris is screening online October 23 through 29 via Metrograph.

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Dan Schindel

Dan Schindel is Associate Editor for Documentary at Hyperallergic. He lives and works in New York.

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