Janelle Monáe dances to the music as she drives in the car with her friend (Tessa Thompson). Her friend hears a siren and turns around. She stops the car on the shoulder. A drone asks for identification and scans their cards. Using a red laser, the drone also reads their eyes and gives them permission to continue on their trip. As they watch the drone fly back in the other direction, she and her friend let open the trunk. Several of friends climb out and sit in the backseat.
Lit in electric blue, people sit at a long table inside an empty pool at night.
Monáe continues to drive her friends.
The people dance inside the pool at night and into the afternoon of the next day. Two men stand in by column and exhale smoke into each other’s mouths. Three women in glasses, blouses and skirts stand together. Monáe and her friends sit on the steps of the pool.
In the car, she and her friends wear animal masks. They arrive at the house and stand in the pool with the variety of people at the party. A young man, wearing an R.I.P. jacket puts his arm around her. She hugs him.
She dances on a bed as people line around in the room.
A young woman shaves a line into two people’s heads and puts a pink streak in it. Monáe watches the young woman and approaches her. Monáe stands by two gold women and pours water on them. She sits across from the young woman and runs her finger on her face.
At night, she sits at the main table. A drone surveils them. Police officers run into the empty pool and people scatter. A police officer grabs her by the waist. The young man pulls the police officer off of her.
Janelle Monáe pauses at the light and asks if her friend has seen her identification. Her friend searches the glove compartment and finds it underneath the seat. The identification was the only way she would be able to pass into the next town. Her friend says she thinks spotted a drone a miles away. It might be following them. She looks into her mirror and slows down.
The drone alerts them with a siren and informs them to stop. They show their identification, which the drone verifies. The drone lets them go with a warning. Her friend says they have made it past the checkpoint and it’s safe now. They let their friends out from the backseat.
It was sixth trip smuggling people back into town. Defined as an other, the drone trapped people into a commune. People attended conversion classes and trained to become better citizens. Losing any form of ID would land someone into a nondescript building to be interrogated. She had lived in the commune for three months before being rescued. Thin and draped in shapeless clothing, she was broken down and had to be led out by her rescuers.
They were always being watched, though. Every trip she figured would be last. The checkpoints had become shorter with invasive scans. A retinal scan was considered mild. Some women had experienced a body scan and never recovered.
She and her friend bring the group of women to the abandoned home. The wealthy had fled as the scrutiny on the drones circled their homes at an alarming frequency and reporting damaging information back to the government. She and her friends had to scramble to find the means. However, they were going to stay and fight.
An arrest, though, sent her and her friends back to the commune. Although they were separated, they had devised ways to communicate. They escaped once. They could do it again. Their lives held value.
Director: N/A Year: 2018