How fast time flies! The 2013 Sundance Film Festival is upon us (launches this week). The first film festival of each year that many filmmakers work diligently to get their films into; most don’t make the short list, and for those that do, it could mean the beginning of an extra special year.
What film might be this year’s Beasts Of The Southern Wild? What director might make history like Ava DuVernay did last year, becoming the first black woman director to win the coveted Best Director award? What trippy, experimental features will challenge and astonish us like Terence Nance’s An Oversimplification Of Her Beauty? Might there be any wonderful documentaries on the *black experience* globally (historical, present, or future) that will enlighten us – like The Black Power Mixtape and Slavery By Another Name?
And there are still more questions I could ask… but I won’t. And I don’t have the answers to any of them either.
But what I do know with certainty is that there are 24 diasporic films (shorts, features, docs) that will screen at this year’s festival – films that tell stories that center primarily around characters of African descent.
And in anticipation of the festival’s opening, I compiled a list of all 24 films, separated in their respective categories, which you can find below.
I personally won’t be at the festival this year, however, Zeba Blay will be providing us with coverage – as much as she can squeeze into her hectic schedule.
But without further ado, here are the 24 films:
30% (Women and Politics in Sierra Leone) / United Kingdom, Sierra Leone (Director: Anna Cady) — Oil-painted animation brings to life the stories of three powerful women in postconflict Sierra Leone, revealing the violence and corruption women face as they fight for fairer representation in the governance of their country.
Century / U.S.A. (Director: Kevin Jerome Everson) — Filmed in Charlottesville, Virginia, and starring a General Motors automobile—the titular brown Buick Century—meeting its fate.
Datamosh / U.S.A. (Director: Yung Jake) — A contemporary rap video that explores the glitchy video art trend “datamoshing”. All geeked up, Yung Jake glitches out your computer and celebrates nerdiness and getting money.
The Roper / U.S.A. (Director: Ewan McNicol) — A black man with hip-hop and zydeco roots hard grafts through the local, all-white rodeo circuits in the Deep South, as he dreams of competing in the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
Boneshaker / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Frances Bodomo) — An African family, lost in America, travels to a Louisiana church to find a cure for its problem child.
The Curse / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Fyzal Boulifa) — Fatine has ventured far from the village to meet her older lover. When a small boy catches her, all she wants to do is go home.
Iyeza / South Africa (Director and screenwriter: Kudzanai Chiurai) — An allegory of the Last Supper depicting the establishment of a new nation-state, Kudzanai Chiurai’s Iyeza explores the African condition by juxtaposing the past and the present of a continent in the grip of violent civil wars.
Jonah / Tanzania, United Kingdom (Director: Kibwe Tavares, Screenwriter: Jack Thorne) — When two young men photograph a gigantic fish leaping from the sea, their small town becomes a tourist attraction in this story about the old and the new.
Record/Play / U.S.A. (Director: Jesse Atlas, Screenwriters: Aaron Wolfe, Jesse Atlas) — War, fate, and a broken Walkman transcend time and space in this sci-fi love story.
Until the Quiet Comes / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Kahlil Joseph) — Shot in the Nickerson Gardens housing projects in Watts, Los Angeles, this film deals with themes of violence, camaraderie and spirituality through the lens of magical realism.
American Promise / U.S.A. (Directors: Joe Brewster, Michèle Stephenson) — This intimate documentary follows the 12-year journey of two African-American families pursuing the promise of opportunity through the education of their sons.
ANITA / U.S.A. (Director: Freida Mock) — Anita Hill, an African-American woman, charges Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas with sexual harassment in explosive Senate hearings in 1991 – bringing sexual politics into the national consciousness and fueling 20 years of international debate on the issues.
Fire in the Blood / India (Director: Dylan Mohan Gray) — In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Western governments and pharmaceutical companies blocked low-cost antiretroviral drugs from reaching AIDS-stricken Africa, causing 10 million or more unnecessary deaths. An improbable group of people decided to fight back. North American Premiere
God Loves Uganda / U.S.A. (Director: Roger Ross Williams) — A powerful exploration of the evangelical campaign to infuse African culture with values imported from America’s Christian Right. The film follows American and Ugandan religious leaders fighting “sexual immorality” and missionaries trying to convince Ugandans to follow biblical law.
Gideon’s Army / U.S.A. (Director: Dawn Porter) — Gideon’s Army follows three young, committed Public Defenders who are dedicated to working for the people society would rather forget. Long hours, low pay and staggering caseloads are so common that even the most committed often give up.
Muscle Shoals / U.S.A. (Director: Greg “Freddy” Camalier) In a tiny Alabama town with the curious name of Muscle Shoals, something miraculous sprang from the mud of the Tennessee River. A group of unassuming, yet incredibly talented, locals came together and spawned some of the greatest music of all time: “Mustang Sally,” “I Never Loved a Man,” “Wild Horses,” and many more. During the most incendiary periods of racial hostility, white folks and black folks came together to create music that would last for generations and gave birth to the incomparable “Muscle Shoals sound.”
The Square (Al Midan) / Egypt, U.S.A. (Director: Jehane Noujaim) — What does it mean to risk your life for your ideals? How far will five revolutionaries go in defending their beliefs in the fight for their nation? World Premiere
The Stuart Hall Project / United Kingdom (Director: John Akomfrah) — Antinuclear campaigner, New Left activist and founding father of Cultural Studies, this documentary interweaves 70 years of Stuart Hall’s film, radio and television appearances, and material from his private archive to document a memorable life and construct a portrait of Britain’s foremost radical intellectual. World Premiere
Twenty Feet from Stardom / U.S.A. (Director: Morgan Neville) — Backup singers live in a world that lies just beyond the spotlight. Their voices bring harmony to the biggest bands in popular music, but we’ve had no idea who these singers are or what lives they lead – until now.
Blue Caprice / U.S.A. (Director: Alexandre Moors, Screenwriters: R.F.I Porto, Alexandre Moors) — An abandoned boy is lured to America and drawn into the shadow of a dangerous father figure in this film inspired by the real life events that led to the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks. Cast: Isaiah Washington, Tequan Richmond, Joey Lauren Adams, Tim Blake Nelson, Cassandra Freeman, Leo Fitzpatrick.
Fruitvale / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ryan Coogler) — The true story of Oscar, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family and strangers on the last day of 2008. Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, Melonie Diaz, Ahna O’Reilly, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray.
The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete / U.S.A. (Director: George Tillman Jr., Screenwriter: Michael Starrbury) — Separated from their mothers and facing a summer in the Brooklyn projects alone, two boys hide from police and forage for food, with only each other to trust. A story of salvation through friendship and two boys against the world. Cast: Skylan Brooks, Ethan Dizon, Jennifer Hudson, Jordin Sparks, Anthony Mackie, Jeffrey Wright.
Mother of George / U.S.A. (Director: Andrew Dosunmu, Screenwriter: Darci Picoult) — A story about a woman willing to do anything and risk everything for her marriage. Cast: Isaach De Bankolé, Danai Gurira, Anthony Okungbowa, Yaya Alafia, Bukky Ajayi.
Newlyweeds / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Shaka King) — A Brooklyn repo man and his globetrotting girlfriend forge an unlikely romance. But what should be a match made in stoner heaven turns into a love triangle gone awry in this dark coming-of-age comedy about dependency. Cast: Amari Cheatom, Trae Harris, Tone Tank, Colman Domingo, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Adrian Martinez.