The year 2021 might still be a bit new, but it’s already high time for a film poised to become one of the year’s must-see indie gems. “Test Pattern,” Shatara Michelle Ford’s feature directorial debut, offers a searing and smart examination of some of the most topical issues in contemporary culture. Featuring “Ballers” regular Brittany S. Hall in a major star turn, “Test Pattern” might sound buzzword-laden, but Hall’s unique treatment of tough material sets it far apart.
Per the film’s official synopsis, “Part psychological horror, part realist drama, this exhilarating debut feature from Shatara Michelle Ford is set against the backdrop of national discussions around inequitable health care and policing, the #MeToo movement, and race in America. ‘Test Pattern’ follows an interracial couple whose relationship is put to the test after a Black woman is sexually assaulted and her white boyfriend drives her from hospital to hospital in search of a rape kit. Their story reveals the systemic injustices and social conditioning women face when navigating sex and consent within the American patriarchy.”
Billed as “a gripping social thriller [that] offers a unique exploration of institutional racism and sexism from a Black female point of view,” Ford’s film is a serious discovery, and the kind of project that should rocket her (and her stars) to a new level of Hollywood hype. The film’s tense first trailer handily lays out its many elements, but also imbues them with some serious stress and confusion, while also cleverly introducing a fraught relationship that, as the film’s tagline hints, might be about power as much as anything else.
The film screened at the BlackStar Film Festival in the summer of 2019, where it won the Lionsgate/STARZ Producer Award, and the New Orleans Film Festival, where it won the Narrative Features Jury Award. “Test Pattern” also screened at a variety of virtual festivals in recent months, and it’s now readying for a wider release (and, hopefully, wider discovery).