A year ago, if you’d perused Twitter or Tumblr, you may have come across the rather provocative handle @DearWhitePeople, offering such quips as “What do you mean, you haven’t seen The Wiz?” and “Stop touching my hair.”
The voice of the posts belongs to Sam, a lead character in the forthcoming movie Dear White People, by first-time feature director Justin Simien.
Based on Justin’s own experiences at a predominately white university, the plot centers on:
Four black students at an Ivy League college where a riot breaks out over a popular ‘African American’ themed party thrown by white students. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the film will explore racial identity in ‘post-racial’ America while weaving a universal story of forging one’s unique path in the world.
The film stars Tyler Williams, Tessa Thompson, Teyonah Parris, and Brandon Bell.
Regarding the film’s potential to spark debate, Justin had this to say:
“Nobody wants to be called a racist, so I think when people hear the title ‘Dear White People,’ already they want to take a defensive posture. But my movie isn’t necessarily about racism. I think that racism is a fact of life and any movie dealing with black issues has to take place in a world where that’s reflected. But my movie is really about race identity – it’s about who you are, how the world sees you, and how that affects your potential.”
The project, now complete a year later, will make its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, which runs from January 16-26 in Park City, Utah.
Above and below are first-look images from the film, courtesy of Sundance.