The Luckiest Girl
3f, 2m - 70 minutes
“The Luckiest Girl” is the story of a ten year old African-American girl who moves to The Netherlands with her grandmother, a prosecutor at the war crimes tribunal. Tahira is homesick for California. The last straw is when she discovers that Santa doesn’t come to Holland; instead, it’s Sinterklaas, and his politically incorrect buddy Zwarte Piet. Much to the horror of her grandmother, Tahira likes Piet, the clown in blackface. The story is told in what the Rogues would call “hyper theatre” style where Tahira’s imagination comes to life and characters include the famous “Girl with A Pearl” painting who has a lot to say.
My first winter in The Netherlands covering war crimes trials for public radio, I was shocked to discover the Dutch saw nothing wrong with “Black Pete.” At the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the American judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald became my hero – and my model for Gran in “The Luckiest Girl.” Zwarte Piet was always a conundrum, she told me. She and a number of other African-American ex-pats agonized every December about whether to condemn or ignore the caricature. Over the past few months, media outlets around the world have reported on the uproar over Piet. UNESCO proposed putting him on their “naughty” list of human rights abuses. Yet a Dutch Facebook site praising Piet got a MILLION likes in one day!