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Phat girlz got substance

PreciousA new film about an obese teenager is not as negative as it may first appear, especially if the book is anything to go by, says Angela Hinds

Precious, a film based on the book called Push by Sapphire, which has just been released in the United States, looks certain to ignite debate on these shores too, once it hits UK cinema.

It is a controversial film that delves into topics such as rape and abuse, and has already won a host of awards such as the Audience Award and The Grand Jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival as well as the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival, won last year by the film Slumdog Millionaire.

It is now being touted for an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture, quite an achievement for a film whose main character is a black, obese teenager living with her family in Harlem.

The story centres on the horrific life led by Precious Jones, played by Gabourey Sidibe. Raped and impregnated by her father twice, when she gets a chance to go to illiteracy classes at an alternative school she starts to turn her life around.

This film doesn’t deal with lightweight topics and Cinderella it certainly isn’t but Gabourey gives a fantastic portrayal. When asked why with so many positive African American stories out there, Sidibe felt this story needed to be told.

‘Because no one has told it and its reality. Think about how many people you walk by, how many people you know, and you don’t know what their story is because no one is saying anything.’

Gabourey ‘Gabby’ Sidibe, 26, is the daughter of Gospel artist Alice Tan Ridley. At 350 lbs is getting noticed because she is not your typical Hollywood ‘babes’.

Surprised at her rapid rise to fame she says ‘A girl like me, there’s no way, because I don’t look like most actresses do, I didn’t think I could. I’m just a girl from Brooklyn.

The film also features Mariah Carey, Mo’nique and Lenny Kravitz. African Americans wary at yet another negative film depicting their stories and gathering a host of awards are comforted by the fact that it is sensitively produced by Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry.

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