Leslie Harris’s Closet Picks

Inside Criterion / Closet Picks — Nov 27, 2019


In 1993, Leslie Harris took the Sundance Film Festival by storm, winning a special jury prize for her dynamic first feature, Just Another Girl on the I.R.T., a coming-of-age story about an ambitious, outspoken young black woman (the unforgettable Ariyan A. Johnson) navigating the trials and tribulations of high school in Brooklyn. This groundbreaking depiction of African American girlhood is now playing on the Criterion Channel, and Harris is currently working on bringing a sequel to the screen.

Recently at our offices to record an introduction to the film, Harris took a moment to pop into our film closet, where she said she felt “in the presence of geniuses.” She proceeded to pay tribute to a few of those cinematic geniuses, as she spotted favorite films of hers on the shelves: Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game, which Harris recommends to those who want to learn how to make a movie (and, as a longtime filmmaking professor, she would know); Agnès Varda’s Vagabond, whose complex female protagonist was a key inspiration for Just Another Girl; and Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage, a movie whose emotional rawness puts her in mind of an underappreciated work by her late contemporary John Singleton. Press play above to learn some of the other titles that loom large in Harris’s personal canon.