Subjects of Desire

Film Info
Country Listing:Canada
Cast/Crew Info
Director(s):Jennifer Holness


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Streaming October 17 - November 30

Since 1968, the Miss Black America beauty pageant has been celebrating and upholding the philosophy "Black is Beautiful." First mounted as a political protest against the exclusion of Black women from the Miss America pageant, the event is the jumping-off point for Subjects of Desire—a thought-provoking primer on how Black features and aesthetics have influenced, and been influenced by, modern beauty standards. From harmful stereotypes and light-skin privilege to hair politics and #BlackGirlMagic, the film explores what it means to be a Black woman in North America in all its dimensions. Featuring interviews with India Arie, Amanda Parris and the infamous Rachel Dolezal, a white activist who for years claimed to be Black, Subjects of Desire offers a wide-ranging look at the intersection of race, beauty and politics.

Cross-Culture Stories, sponsored by Warner Bros. Discovery Access Canada, spotlights underrepresented Canadian documentary filmmakers and brings attention to urgent stories from around the globe. With stirring narratives, this Hot Docs members' exclusive film series lifts the voices of diverse Canadian storytellers and serves as proof of the vast filmmaking talent in our country.   

The film will be available for 48 hours from when you start the stream. Please note streaming is only possible from inside Canada. For additional assistance, visit our FAQ page or email us at