Bad Hair: What Motivated Director Justin Simien?

Justin Simien’s Sundance Film Fest opening night, Bad Hair, is a genre-blending horror feature, meant as a tribute to the struggles of black women.

Simien burst into national scene after his 2014 feature “Dear White People,” which was later adapted into a Netflix Original series.

The world premiere of Bad Hair took place at Park City’s Ray Theater on Thursday night, January 23.

The cast includes newcomer and lead Elle Lorraine, Lena Waithe, and Kelly Rowland.

“I made this movie with one group in mind–black women,” Simien said.  His goal was to “interrogate a system obsessed with black culture, but one that doesn’t give a s— about black lives.”

LorraiSimien spoke of his mother and late aunts, and said he’s found patterns over his entire life of society “mining” black women for their passion and wisdom, but never elevating them to positions of power.
Conceived over a long weekend in Palm Springs with his producers, Simien said he also wanted to explore “a genre that I love,” and was particularly inspired by the skin-crawling horror of South Korea.
“There’s a sub-genre of Korean horror films, hair horror, and there’s no American equivalent,” he said. “I thought about ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ ‘Wicker Man’ and absurd traditions of horror and camp.”
Waithe spoke briefly about her excitement to participate in a highly popular film tradition that was cast with and aimed specifically at black women.
“When we watch it, we feel like it’s for us. If no one else gets it, who gives a s—?” she said.
Simien burst into national recognition following his 2014 feature “Dear White People,” which was later adapted into a Netflix Original series. “Bad Hair” is currently seeking a domestic distributor, with Endeavor Content repping filmmakers in the sale.ne plays Anna, a hopeful on-air host stuck at the assistant level at a cable network in 1989. The channel’s programming skews authentically African American, until an evil white executive (James Van Der Beek) sees the pending hip-hip revolution about to saturate pop culture and shakes things up.

Anna, stricken with a devastating scar from an encounter with drug store hair relaxer as a child, finds she cannot climb the ladder without assuming the aesthetic requires of her.

Under peer pressure, she submits to getting a weave, sewn in hair pieces that would become a beauty standard in the 1990s. The benefits are immediate, but Anna soon realizes her new hair comes at a price.

Simien spoke of his mother and aunts, and said he’s found patterns over his entire life of society “mining” black women for their passion and wisdom, but never elevating them to positions of power.

Simien said he also wanted to explore “a genre that I love,” and was particularly inspired by the skin-crawling horror of South Korea. “There’s a sub-genre of Korean horror films, and there’s no American equivalent,” he said. “I thought about ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ ‘Wicker Man’ and absurd traditions of horror and camp.”

Waithe spoke about her excitement to participate in a popular film tradition that was cast with and aimed specifically at black women. “When we watch it, we feel like it’s for us. If no one else gets it, who gives a s—?” she said.

“Bad Hair” is currently seeking a domestic distributor.