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Tayarisha Poe - Selah and the Spades

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2019 NEXT Section Sundance Trading Card Series: #14. Tayarisha Poe – Selah and the Spades

2019 NEXT Section Sundance Trading Card Series: #14. Tayarisha Poe – Selah and the Spades

Filmmaker Tayarisha Poe from Selah and the Spades is among the voices, faces and creative folks that are a part of the ten films selected for our favourite section at the Sundance Film Festival. Added to the fest at the beginning of the decade, over time, the NEXT section (formerly referred to as “<=>”) has unearthed some of the best voices in micro American indie film projects with the likes of Sebastian Silva, Josh Mond, Rick Alverson, Anna Rose Holmer, Andrew Dosunmu, Craig Zobel, David Lowery and Janicza Bravo. We return with Sundance Trading Card Series focusing on the 2019 NEXT section selected films and personalities.

Eric Lavallee: Name me three of your favorite “2018 discoveries”.
Tayarisha Poe: I feel the most eureka moments when I find an excellent novel to fall into.
1. HEADS OF THE COLORED PEOPLE by Nafissa Thompson-Spires
3.THE CHANGELING by Victor Lavalle

Tayarisha Poe - Selah and the Spades

Lavallee: Prior to committing to the project, could you discuss the first gist of an idea (e.g. setting, visual idea, character, plot device, personal experience) and how that evolved or help push the project forward?
Poe: Selah and The Spades began with a short story titled JUST SELAH about a girl leaning against a storefront window in her small town of Pontomic, PA as she watched through binoculars while her best friend Maxxie beat the crap out of a kid who’d been spreading rumors about their faction. I started writing it on the train home from my first job post college on a day when I realized I really, really, really did not enjoy spending my entire day beneath fluorescent lights, and in fact, I needed to write about a kid who always did exactly what they wanted to do at every moment of their life, consequences be damned. Thus, Selah.

Lavallee: What characteristics, traits, mannerisms, were you looking for in your lead player? Could you detail that DNA and how they relate to the world around them?.
Poe: The most important thing for whoever was to play Selah was that they had to love her, to empathize with her, not just on the surface but in a way where their energy vibrates on the same level as hers does. It needed to be a person who saw Selah as a being worthy of that love and that empathy, it could never be pity, never that. It had to be that they saw themselves in Selah, and they were comfortable with that reality.

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Tayarisha Poe - Selah and the Spades

Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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