Seeking Mavis Beacon is a wild Sundance doc about the search for a lost tech icon

A Sundance documentary with a healthy heart and a dose of whimsy Looking for Mavis Mayak follows two young Black women dedicated to finding the original model for Mavis Mayak teaches Typing. If you touched a computer in the 80s or 90s, there’s a good chance Mavis helped you get comfortable with the keyboard. At least, you might remember her from the program’s original 1987 cover: a smiling, graceful Black woman in a cream-colored dress. He epitomized style and a professional vibe – if you buy this program, it’s like you can be just as good as him.

It’s no spoiler to say that “Mavis Lighthouse” didn’t actually exist—it was a marketing idea concocted by a bunch of white guys from Silicon Valley. But the cover star of the program was real: Her name was Renee L’Esperance, a Haitian model discovered while working at Saks Fifth Avenue in Los Angeles. Then he helped his image Mavis Mayak teaches Typing successful, he retreated from the spotlight, reportedly returning to retire in the Caribbean.

Looking for Mavis Mayak

Looking for Mavis Mayak

The documentary’s director and writer Jazmin Jones, as well as her collaborator Olivia McKayla Ross, start with these basic details and set out to find L’Esperance as a pair of digital detectives. From their home base in an old Bay Area office surrounded by tech ephemera, various artworks and images of influential black women, they schedule L’Esperance’s reporting, track leads and even hold a spiritual ceremony to connect with them. model.

I won’t say if the couple actually finds L’Esperance because it’s a journey. Looking for Mavis Mayak such a joy to watch. Jones and Ross both grew up with the writing program and feel a kinship with the character of Mavis Beacon. It was the first app to prominently feature a black woman on the cover (reportedly causing some suppliers to cut orders), so it made the tech world seem like a place where young black women could actually fit in. The beacon’s digital hands are also visible. on the screen, as if it’s gently guiding your fingers to the correct letters and placement.

Mavis Beacon to help uncover more details about the whereabouts of Jones and Ross . Some of these calls are featured in the film and they clearly show that his digital presence inspired many people. The film opens with references to Beacon throughout culture, including one of my favorite bits Abbott Elementary, where Quinta Brunson’s overachieving teacher is excited to see a writing sign in the school crowd. I remembered my own childhood experience Mavis Mayak teaches Typing, spending free time at school and free time at home trying to speed up writing. In high school, writing was as natural as breathing. Yes, I would be scared if I saw the real Beacon in person.

While the documentary wouldn’t seem out of place at Sundance, which is known for its innovative projects, it sometimes feels like a piece of experimental media meant for YouTube or an impossibly cool twenty-something art show. (At one point, Ross attends a farewell party for one of his friends’ dead laptops. It’s held in an art space full of people dressed in white. It makes you love him even more.)

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