in , , , ,

16 Films by Black Directors to Look Out For at 2018 Sundance Film Festival

Photo Source: Historic Park City

After the first lineup of films that was announced last year November, the 2018 Sundance Film Festival started yesterday, January 18, and will last until January 28, with the showcasing of bold, independent storytelling from around the world.

Photo Source: Historic Park City

110 feature-length films were selected, representing 29 countries and 47 first-time filmmakers, including 30 in competition. The Sundance Institute press release mentions that 8,740 short films were submitted for consideration this year. Although the Institute has a long history of underrepresentation of black filmmakers, these 16 films by black directors as compiled by Okay Africa, with synopses from Sundance are the ones you shouldn’t miss at the festival. The list includes directorial debuts from Idris Elba and Boots Riley, as well as Zambia’s Rungano Nyoni’s first feature film that has already garnered critical acclaim.

  1. Boots Riley: “Sorry to Bother You”
Lakeith Stanfield Photo Source: Doug Emmett/ Sundance Institute

Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield), a 30-something black telemarketer with self-esteem issues, discovers a magical selling power living inside of him. Suddenly he’s rising up the ranks to the elite team of his company, which sells heinous products and services. The upswing in Cassius’s career raises serious red flags with his brilliant girlfriend, Detroit (Tessa Thompson), a sign-twirling gallery artist who is secretly a part of a Banksy-style collective called Left Eye. But the unimaginable hits the fan when Cassius meets the company’s cocaine-snorting, orgy-hosting, obnoxious, and relentlessly optimistic CEO, Steve Lift (Armie Hammer).

Bursting with wit and originality, writer/director Boots Riley pulls no punches in this immensely intelligent comedy about overcoming your perception of your own powers of persuasion. With pitch-perfect performances by a stellar cast, a super funky soundtrack (which Riley contributes to), plus a score by Tune-Yards, “Sorry to Bother You” is a sparkling debut feature that surfs a macabre universe with a disturbing likeness to our own.

  1. Spike Lee: Pass Over
Photo Source: Sundance

Playwright Antoinette Nwandu’s politically charged Pass Over riffs on Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, transporting the classic play’s story framework to a contemporary Chicago setting and boldly creating her own specific, timely, and provocative work bursting with passion and poetry. Director Spike Lee (a Sundance Film Festival alum nine times over) channels Danya Taymor’s onstage direction into his spirited cinematographic capturing of the work, recorded on the Steppenwolf Theatre stage. Jon Michael Hill and Julian Parker deliver captivating performances, balancing ferocity and humor as they devastatingly illustrate this particular human condition.

Read Related :  Chidinma’s ‘Love Me’ Will (Definitely) Become Nigeria’s Valentine Anthem This Year

3. Rungano Nyoni: I Am Not a Witch

Margaret Mulubwa Photo Source: Clandestine Films/ Sundance

After nine-year-old Shula is accused of being a witch by her fellow villagers, she is ushered to the state authorities for judgment, whereupon she is immediately declared guilty and unceremoniously sentenced to exile in a camp for witches of all ages. Upon arrival, she is tied to a long, white ribbon connected to a large coil whose removal, she is told, will transform her into a goat. Just like Shula, the camp denizens have been scapegoated and gathered together, occasionally expected to perform miracles.

Writer/director Rungano Nyongi’s deft directorial instincts unfurl this tale of interconnected vignettes in true mythological fashion, pointedly and with playful vigor. Gorgeously photographed and performed with resolute confidence, Nyongi’s astounding work layers satire and social critique into a richly textured and refreshing take on institutional subjugation, and the film resonates with earth-shattering power.

4. Mel Jones: Leimert Park

Photo Source: Sundance

Things get complicated when three friends share a house in South Los Angeles’s Leimert Park. Despite being married, beats-maker Mickey hasn’t had an orgasm in three months; Bridge mistakes sex for love while assisting a visiting artist, and Kendra shoots videos of her numerous sexual encounters with the goal of landing her own art show. Set against a vibrant LA backdrop with a fantastic cast of female leads, “Leimert Park” is an in-your-face comedy built for the modern age.

5. Mariama Diallo: Hair Wolf

Photo Source: Sundance

In a black hair salon in gentrifying Brooklyn, the local residents fend off a strange new monster: white women intent on sucking the lifeblood from black culture.

6. Idris Elba: Yardie

Aml Ameen
Photo Source: Alex Bailey/Sundance

On a hot night in Kingston, Jamaica, 1973, Jerry Dread stops the music at an outdoor party to encourage a truce between warring gangs. His little brother Denis looks on from the crowd as an assassin’s bullet rings out, taking Jerry’s life. A decade later, Denis is the right-hand man to gang boss Fox, who sends him on a loyalty-testing mission to London. But when the mission goes wrong, Denis hides out with an old flame and decides to find his brother’s killer.

Based on the cult novel by Victor HeadleyIdris Elba’s standout directorial debut fuses the hard-boiled gangster genre with a dramatic coming-of-age period piece, bringing to life characters who struggle to find forgiveness while making their own paths between two worlds. Elba expertly re-creates the atmosphere of the times with an astute eye for detail and an evocative soundtrack that captures the tumultuous spirit of Kingston and London in the ’80s—where identity, culture, and even the cities themselves were in flux.

Read Related :  Meet The Six African Referees Selected to Officiate Russia 2018 World Cup

7. Reinaldo Marcus Green: Monsters and Men

Photo Source: Sundance

One night, in front of a bodega in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood, Manny Ortega witnesses a white police officer wrongfully gun down a neighborhood street hustler, and Manny films the incident on his phone. Now he’s faced with a dilemma: release the video and bring unwanted exposure to himself and his family, or keep the video private and be complicit in the injustice?

With a deep sense of humanity and a deft directorial hand, Reinaldo Marcus Green smartly reformulates the traditional construction of “protagonist” to magnify the power of perspective. Green tells the story of how the footage affects the lives of three upstanding men in Bed-Stuy—a young father striving to support his new family, an African American cop dealing with the fallout of his colleague’s mistake, and a star high school athlete who becomes politicized by the incident. Each man is very different, but they equally feel the urgency of the question they must all face: should I take moral action or remain safely on the sidelines? Green provokes viewers to ask themselves the same question.

8.Qasim Basir: A Boy. A Girl. A Dream

Photo Source: Sundance

Cass (Omari Hardwick), a handsome USC grad stalled in his career, is getting lost in the alcohol- and drug-infused world of LA club promotion. On the night of the 2016 presidential election, he meets Frida (Meagan Good), a beautiful, spirited midwestern visitor dealing with a difficult breakup. Their chemistry is undeniable. Nothing will ever be the same again.

With a sense of quiet enchantment and magnitude in the mundane, director Qasim Basir has created a visually sensuous, dreamlike film unspooling in real time, seemingly in one continuous take, that transports you to a singular moment in time—election night—when the texture of life seemed to indescribably yet drastically change. A Boy, A Girl, A Dream. effortlessly holds a full spectrum of emotion—feelings of panic, embarrassment, attraction, vulnerability, despair, anger, companionship, disorientation, and a creeping sense of a nation radically changing course—all inside a single slice-of-life film about two people meeting each other for the first time.

Read Related :  Get into the New Week Mode with Phyno's New Single "Isi Ego"

9.Katrelle N. Kindred: War Paint

Photo Source: Sundance

A young black girl in South LA experiences a series of events at the convergence of racism and sexism during the Fourth of July holiday.

10. Tomisin Adepeju: The Right Choice

Photo Source: Sundance

With the help of an adviser, a husband and wife must answer three seemingly harmless questionsto create their perfect designer baby.

11. Carey Williams: Emergency

Photo Source: Sundance

Faced with an emergency situation, a group of young Black and Latino friends carefully weigh the pros and cons of calling the police.

12. Dime Davis: Wild Wild West: A Beautiful Rant by Mark Bradford

Where do artists come from? An answer explored through paper, percussion, and one provocative artist.

13. Marc Johnson: ULTRAVIOLET

A woman named Kanchana and several scorpions explore collaborative survival approaches in a posthuman future in which all living beings are considered equal. Interspecies sociability, the Anthropocene, and speculative fabulations unfold in a futuristic and enchanted world.

14. RaMell Ross: Hale County This Morning, This Evening

How does one express the reality of individuals whose public image, lives, and humanity originate in exploitation? Photographer and filmmaker RaMell Ross employs the integrity of nonfiction filmmaking and the currency of stereotypical imagery to fill in the gaps between individual black male icons. “Hale County This Morning, This Evening”Hale County This Morning, This Evening” is a lyrical innovation to the form of portraiture that boldly ruptures racist aesthetic frameworks that have historically constricted the expression of African American men on film.

In the lives of protagonists Daniel and Quincy, quotidian moments and the surrounding southern landscape are given importance, drawing poetic comparisons between historical symbols and the African American banal. Images are woven together to replace narrative arc with visual movements. As Ross crafts an inspired tapestry made up of time, the human soul, history, environmental wonder, sociology, and cosmic phenomena, a new aesthetic framework emerges that offers a new way of seeing and experiencing the heat, and the hearts, of people in the Black Belt region of the U.S., as well as black people far beyond.

15 Kamau Bilal: Baby Brother

The director’s baby brother moves back in with his parents.

What do you think?

0 points
Upvote Downvote

Total votes: 0

Upvotes: 0

Upvotes percentage: 0.000000%

Downvotes: 0

Downvotes percentage: 0.000000%

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Didier Drogba Has Opened a Fully Furnished School In His Home Country, Ivory Coast

Uganda Wants to Launch its Own Social Media Platforms