Written and Directed by Jennifer Holness
Produced by Jennifer Holness

2021 | 101 minutes
Hungry Eyes Media
Original version in English


Subjects of Desire explores the cultural shift in North American beauty standards
towards embracing Black female aesthetics and features while exposing the deliberate
and often dangerous portrayals of Black women in the media. From society’s new fixation on the ‘booty’, fuller lips, the dramatic rise of spray tanned skin, ethnic hairstyles, and athletic bodies, some argue that Black women are having a beauty moment.  But others, primarily Black women, argue that traditional Black features and attributes are seen as more desirable when they are on White women.  
Told from the POV of women who aren’t afraid to challenge conventional beauty
standards, the film is partially set at the 50th Anniversary of the Miss Black America
Pageant, a beauty pageant that was created as a political protest.  

Subjects of Desire is a culturally significant, provocative film that deconstructs what we
understand about race and the power behind beauty.


Top 10 Audience Award – Hot Docs
Cultural Spirit Award – New Hope Film Festival
Best Documentary – DC Black Film Festival
Best Documentary – San Francisco Black Film Festival
DOXX Award for Best Documentary  –  Tallgrass Film Festival
Best Documentary – CineFAM Film Festival
Canada’s Top 10 Films – TIFF


Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary  – SXSW
Best Documentary – Bentonville Film Festival
Best Canadian Documentary – Calgary International Film Festival
Mind the Gap Award – Mill Valley Film Festival
Spirit Award – Mill Valley Film Festival
Gordan Parks Black Excellence in Filmmaking – Tallgrass Film Festival
Best Documentary Audience Award – American Black Film Festival
Best Documentary Feature – Denton Black Film Festival

Official trailer

Director’s note

I grew up feeling like I was outside the norm of conventional beauty. I had smooth chocolate skin, 4C hair and while I was considered nice looking, I rarely found products that enhanced my looks. Luckily, I was confident at being a ‘natural,’ and have literally jumped for joy over the past decade as products for Black women became plentiful and fantastic. As significant, Black women and girls started to embrace their beauty and the world began to emulate, buy, borrow and appropriate Black aesthetics. That’s when I realized I wanted to understand the structures behind the beauty standards we all accept.  I also wanted  to deconstruct why so many of us grew up feeling hurt, insecure and sometimes ugly. I wanted to be a part of telling our story as Black women and why our beauty holds power. 

I am blessed with three beautiful daughters, currently teenagers, aged 13, 17 and 19. Over the years, I’ve watched them develop into glorious young ladies and my hopes and dreams for them have soared. Like many mothers, I also want to protect them from the pain I felt growing up, before I grew into loving the skin I’m in. Then 5 years ago, a surprising thing happened my girls began to tell me how many of their non-Black friends coveted their beauty. Big booty – they want that. Fuller lips, – they are getting products for that, slim fit, slim-thick, small waists to full hips ratio, they are working out for that,  baby hairs, braids and extensions – they are buying that. Beyonce, Rihanna, Lupita Nyong’o, even Naomi Campbell ( this lady does not age), women who are considered the creme of the crop in beauty, belong in our camp. And yes white beauty standards have remained dominant, but an interesting shift is unfolding too. That’s when I began to understand that while many things remained the same from my youth, a great deal has changed too. I want to tell the story of whys and how this is unfolding.

Photo Credits: Hungry Eyes Media


Jennifer brings a fresh, authentic perspective to telling powerful, thought-provoking stories.  Jen has worked as a documentary filmmaker for nearly 20 years.  She is the Executive Producer of Maya Annik Bedward feature doc, Black Zombie, that is in production with CBC’s Doc Channel. She was recently awarded the CMPA’s Indiescreen Established Producer of the year Award in recognition of her contribution to Canada’s film industry and her incredible career achievements. Jen has directed her first feature documentary, Subjects of Desire, about Black women and beauty that will have its world premiere at SXSW and it will air on TVO and Crave in Canada. Jen who is passionate about Black Canadian History ( and redressing the lack of) is producing her first History Channel Series, BLK: An Origin Story.  She will serve as a series showrunner and a director with partner Sudz Sutherland.

Photo Credit: Rafy

Sudz works on both sides of the fence as a freelance writer and director for TV dramas and feature films. Some of his most recent work include Netflix’s Ginny and Georgia, Superman and Lois, and CBC’s For The Record. Sudz’s feature film, Home Again, won the prestigious PAFF‐ BAFTA Festival Choice Award in Los Angeles and was nominated for Best Direction from the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC). Home Again is the follow up to his multiple award winning and Genie nominated debut feature film Love, Sex and Eating the Bones. His Dramatic series ‘Shoot the Messenger,’ with writer/producer Jennifer Holness was aired on the CBC. Sudz is currently developing a comedy series for CFC-Netflix, #relationshipgoals, and will be producing and directing on a powerful new documentary series, BLK: An Origin Story, that he co-created about lost Black History in Canada.

Iris Ng is recognized as a versatile cinematographer, who lends her patience, creativity, intuition, and skill to bring a director’s vision to the screen. For over a decade, Iris has collaborated with award-winning directors Sarah Polley, Min Sook Lee, Fredrik Gertten, Vikram Jayanti, Michelle Latimer, and Martha Burns on a variety of documentaries while shooting a wide variety of films for artists such as Chris Curreri, Oliver Husain, Bambitchell, and Richard Fung. After obtaining her BFA in Film Production from York University, she has honed her craft shooting over sixty projects in many facets of the industry, from narrative, art and documentary films to commercials, music videos and episodic television. In the process, she has had the opportunity to work in Asia, Africa, Europe, and across North America. While her work has been screened in festivals and installations around the world, Iris’ goal continues to be to capture the essence of the moment in the medium, regardless of the size of the project.

Ricardo specializes in feature films, documentaries, lifestyle T.V., commercials and music videos. He is an expert in all formats. Ricardo is known for his talent for lighting and for his quiet and professional demeanour on set; while having fun at the same time. If you know Ricardo, then you know his love of “Juicy Fruit”! His talents have not gone unnoticed; on the contrary, Ricardo has been recognized in the industry and has many awards under his belt. Ricardo is a husband and the proud father of three children, consistently volunteering his time and energy to helping aspiring filmmakers.

Lawrence Jackman is a Toronto-based filmmaker. Over the past fifteen years he has worked as director, editor and consultant on many award-winning documentaries and dramas. He was the director of How Does It Feel (2011) and co-director of A Better Man (2017).

Teddi Jones (A. Tjernagel), is a singer-songwriter and music producer from Vancouver, Canada. Her accredited work extends to Summer Walker (Over It), Buddy (She Think), $NOT (Fall In Love, Revenge, Demanding) and G-Eazy feat. Rick Ross (Lifestyles of the Rich & Hated). Teddi’s sound ranges from mysterious, chopped singing-vocals to the creative use of analog instruments including guitars, pianos and more. She is known for her creations of production-ready instrumental samples.

Tyler is a director, screenwriter and producer based in Toronto, Ontario. During his childhood, to escape the mundanity of the suburbs, he would go to the theatres weekly, which is where he discovered his love for storytelling and filmmaking. Tyler graduated from Sheridan College with a Bachelor’s degree in Film and Television. After graduation, Tyler’s first short film Teething (2019) was accepted into 2019’s Reelworld Film Festival. He wrote, directed, produced and edited the film. He is currently in pre-production of his second short film, I Live Here which he has received funding from Ontario Arts Council, NFB and CBC. Tyler ’s main goal is to create grounded and humanizing films about black people and people of colour. He is currently writing his first feature film and continues to be a student of the craft.

Elise Whittington has 5 years of experience within the film and television industry as well as a diversified background in the arts and general management. She has considerable experience in providing business affairs and project management support for every stage of a project’s life cycle. Elise utilizes her innate sense of creativity in a multitude of ways and specifically in her strategic approach to project development in its early stages. Her expertise lies in the execution of the application process for all levels of funding, from assistance and preparation of all necessary documents to contract management, submission, and long-term management of each project.  Elise holds a M.B.A. from the Schulich School of business. Elise Whittington has 5 years of experience within the film and television industry as well as a diversified background in the arts and general management.

About hungry eyes media

Hungry Eyes Media is co-founded by the dynamic creative duo of Jen Holness and Sudz Sutherland. Sutherland and Holness bring a fresh, authentic perspective to telling powerful, thought-provoking stories.  In doing so, they have racked up numerous national and international awards and accolades. Hungry Eyes recently expanded its focus to develop content for mobile users as well. As a company with its own distinct mission plan, Hungry Eyes seeks to inspire and entertain!


Ryann Richardson
Alexandra Germaine
Seraiah Nicole
Brittany Lewis

India Arie
Jully Black
Rachael Dolezal
Amanda Parris

Dr. Cheryl Thompson
Dr. Carolyn West
Dr. Heather Widdows

Kaya Joubert Johnson
Charli Proudfoot
Daeja Sutherland
Rayne Sutherland
Torie Williams

presents SUBJECTS OF


Written and Directed by
Jennifer Holness

Garvia Bailey

Jennifer Holness

Sudz Sutherland

Directors of Photography
Iris Ng
Ricardo Diaz

Music Composer
A. “Teddi Jones” Tjernagel

Music Consultant
Tom Third

Tanya Fleet

Hoda Ali

Hoda Ali

Associate Producers
Tyler Evans

Elise Whittington

Production Manager
Samantha Kaine
Krista Mitchell

Sound Recordist
Tim Lue

Additional Sound Recordist
Edward O’Connor
Jeffrey Reyes
Richard Gott

Make-Up Artists
Nicole Pilon
Elizabeth Taylor
Gemma Masters
Tiffany Peters

Hair Stylists
Chantelle Hinds
Nikki Zalanka
Patience Barton

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Get in touch

Hungry Eyes Media
895 Davenport Rd.
Toronto, ON
M6G 3C7

Publicist – Selina McCallum


Jennifer Holness’s Executive Assistant
Twinkle Dhawan