Many filmmakers have tried their hand at fine arts (and vice versa), but it’s rare to see an art exhibition adapted into a feature film. But that could be changing soon, as A24 has announced that it is teaming up with filmmaker and multimedia artist Kahlil Joseph on a film adaptation of his acclaimed installation “BLKNWS.” Though Joseph has received critical acclaim for his short films and art exhibitions, this will mark his feature directorial debut.
“BLKNWS” was an immersive, fictional newscast that satirized America’s “news-creation industrial complex.” Through a combination of original content and aggregated news footage, it imagined what a cable news network run from a Black perspective would look like. An official press release for the installation described it as “a fugitive newscast that rejuvenates what news can be, ‘BLKNWS’ aims to become a bona fide news network that can only be accessed at specific terrestrial sites.” The project sought to raise questions about the way corporate media keeps people addicted to news. While many film lovers will be curious about how a museum installation can translate to cinema, it is worth nothing that the format of “BLKNWS” has constantly evolved. Beginning as a series of shorts that played before other work, it evolved into an immersive installation and eventually became a 47-minute short film. It was broadcast in several art theaters and museums around the country, and played in the New Frontier Films & Performances category at Sundance in 2019.
Joseph has revisited “BLKNWS” in various formats since conceiving the idea in 2018, but he has kept busy with plenty of other projects in between. In addition to directing music videos for the likes of Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar, he is known for the short films “Fly Paper” and “Black Mary,” which have primarily screened in art galleries around the world.
Details about how Joseph will adapt the sprawling performance art project into a narrative film remain under wraps. The project, which currently has the working title “BLKNWS: The Feature Film,” will be co-produced by A24 and Participant. Jeff Skoll and Anikah McLaren are executive producing, and Bradford Young (“Selma,” “Arrival”) is set to serve as Director of Photography.