The Sundance Film Festival is one of the preeminent film festivals in the world. Known for cutting edge films, Sundance is the platform for new motion pictures that mainstream cinema studios run to for new and exciting projects. Black films have long had a place at Sundance like the Hudlin Brothers’s teen comedy House Party, Wendell B Harris’ Chameleon Street and notably Ava DuVernay with I Will Follow. The 2016 Sundance Film Festival is jam-packed with 31 films by or about people of African descent including several documentaries. Here is your list of those 31 films and the link to the schedule. If you can’t attend this year, bookmark this page to keep up with possible streaming of these projects.
As You Are / U.S.A. (Director: Miles Joris Peyrafitte, Screenwriters: Miles Joris Peyrafitte, Madison Harrison) — As You Are is the telling and retelling of a relationship between three teenagers as it traces the course of their friendship through a construction of disparate memories prompted by a police investigation. Cast: Owen Campbell, Charlie Heaton, Amandla Stenberg, John Scurti, Scott Cohen, Mary Stuart Masterson. World Premiere
The Birth of a Nation / U.S.A. ( Director and Screenwriter: Nate Parker ) — Set against the antebellum South, this story follows Nat Turner, a literate slave, and preacher whose financially strained owner, Samuel Turner, accepts an offer to use Nat’s preaching to subdue unruly slaves. After witnessing countless atrocities against fellow slaves, Nat devises a plan to lead his people to freedom. Cast: Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Jackie Earle Haley, Gabrielle Union, Mark Boone Jr. World Premiere
Morris from America / U.S.A ., Germany (Director and screenwriter: Chad Hartigan) — Thirteen year old Morris, a hip-hop loving American, moves to Heidelberg, Germany, with his father. In this completely foreign land, he falls in love with a local girl, befriends his German tutor turned confidant and attempts to navigate the unique trials and tribulations of adolescence. Cast: Markees Christmas, Craig Robinson, Carla Juri, Lina Keller, Jakub Gierszał, Levin Henning. World Premiere
A scene from Southside with You. Photo by Pat Scola
Southside With You / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Richard Tanne) — Southside With You chronicles a single day in the summer of 1989 when the future President of the United States, Barack Obama, wooed his future First Lady on an epic first date across Chicago’s South Side. Cast: Tika Sumpter, Parker Sawyers, Vanessa Bell Calloway. World Premiere
U.S. Doc umantary
The Bad Kids / U.S .A. (Directors: Keith Fulton, Lou Pepe) — At a remote Mojave Desert high school, extraordinary educators believe that empathy and life skills, more than academics, give at risk students command of their own futures. This coming of age story watches education combat the crippling effects of poverty in the lives of these so called “bad kids.” World Premiere
Kiki / U.S.A., Sweden (Director: Sara Jordenö) — Through a strikingly intimate and visually daring lens, Kiki offers a riveting, complex insight into a safe space created and governed by LGBTQ youths of color, who are demanding happiness and political power. The film is an exciting coming of age story about agency, resilience, and the transformative art form of voguing. World Premiere
Kiki. Photo by Nati Gomez
Life, Animated / U .S.A. (Director: Roger Ross Williams, Screenwriters: Roger Ross Williams, David Teague) — Owen Suskind, an autistic boy who could not speak for years, slowly emerged from his isolation by immersing himself in Disney animated movies. Using these films as a roadmap, he reconnects with his loving family and the wider world in this emotional coming of age story. Cast: Owen Suskind, Ron Suskind, Cornelia Suskind, Walter Suskind.
Suited / U.S.A. (Director: Jason Benjamin) — Bindle & Keep, a Brooklyn tailoring company, makes custom suits for a growing legion of gender non-conforming clients. World Premiere
Trapped / U.S.A. (Director: Dawn Porter) — American abortion clinics are in a fight for survival. Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws are increasingly being passed by states that maintain they ensure women’s safety and health, but as clinics continue to shut their doors, opponents believe the real purpose of these laws is to outlaw abortion. World Premiere
The Fits / U.S.A., Italy (Director: Anna Rose Holmer, Screenwriters: Anna Rose Holmer, Saela Davis, Lisa Kjerulff) — In this psychological portrait, Toni, an 11year old tomboy, is assimilating into a tight knit dance team in Cincinnati’s West End when a mysterious outbreak of fainting spells plagues the team, and her desire for acceptance is twisted. Cast: Royalty Hightower, Alexis Neblett, Da’Sean Minor, Lauren Gibson, Makyla Burnam, Inayah Rodgers. North American Premiere
How To Tell You’re A Douchebag / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Tahir Jetter) — This romantic comedy follows a misogynist who falls in love. Cast: Charles Brice, DeWanda Wise, William Jackson Harper, Alexander Mulzac, Jenna Williams, Tonye Patano. World Premiere
How to Tell you’re a Douchebag. Photo by Cory Fraiman Lott.
Jacqueline (Argentine) / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Bernardo Britto) — A young French woman hires a man to document her self imposed political asylum in Argentina after supposedly leaking highly confidential government secrets. Cast: Camille Rutherford, Wyatt Cenac, James Benson, Martin Anderson, Sarah Willis, Enrique Dura. World Premiere
The Land / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Steven Caple Jr.) — Four teenage boys devote their summer to escaping the streets of Cleveland, Ohio, by pursuing a dream life of professional skateboarding. But when they get caught in the web of the local queen pin, their motley brotherhood is tested, threatening to make this summer their last. Cast: Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Moises Arias, Rafi Gavron, Ezri Walker, Erykah Badu, Michael K. Williams. World Premiere
Sleight / U.S.A. (Director: JD Dillard, Screenwriters: JD Dillard, Alex Theurer) — After a young street magician is left to care for his little sister following their mother’s passing, he turns to dealing drugs, but quickly runs into trouble with his supplier. When his sister gets kidnapped, he must rely on his smarts and sleight of hand to save her. Cast: Jacob Latimore, Dulé Hill, Seychelle Gabriel, Storm Reid, Sasheer Zamata, Cameron Esposito. World Premiere
The Lobster / Ireland, United Kingdom, Greece, France (Director: Yorgos Lanthimos, Screenwriters: Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou) — In a dystopian near future, single people are obliged to find a mate in 45 days or else be transformed into an animal of their choice and be released into the woods. Cast: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Ben Whishaw, Léa Seydoux, John C. Reilly, Olivia Colman.
Miles Ahead / U .S.A. (Director: Don Cheadle, Screenwriters: Don Cheadle, Steven Baigelman) — Inspired by events in Miles Davis’s life, this is a wildly entertaining, impressionistic, no holds barred portrait of one of twentieth century music’s creative geniuses. Cast: Don Cheadle, Ewan McGregor, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Lakeith Lee Stanfield, Michael Stuhlbarg.
Miles Ahead directed by Don Cheadle
Cameraperson / U.S.A. (Director: Kirsten Johnson) — By exposing her role behind the camera, Johnson reaches into the vast trove of footage that she has shot over decades around the world. What emerges is a visually bold memoir and a revelatory interrogation into the power of the camera. World Premiere
Film Hawk / U .S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: JJ Garvine, Tai Parquet) — Trace Bob Hawk’s early years as the young gay child of a Methodist minister to his current career as a consultant on some of the most influential independent films of our time. Cast: Bob Hawk, Kevin Smith, Edward Burns, Rob Epstein, Barbara Hammer, Kimberly Reed.
Maya Angelou And Still I Rise / U .S.A. (Directors: Bob Hercules, Rita Coburn Whack) — The remarkable story of Maya Angelou—iconic writer, poet, actress, and activist whose life has intersected some of the most profound moments in recent American history.
Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall / U.S.A. (Director: Spike Lee) — Catapulted by the success of his first major solo project, Off the Wall, Michael Jackson went from child star to King of Pop. This film explores the seminal album, with rare archival footage and interviews from those who were there and those whose lives its success and legacy impacted. World Premiere
Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall. Photo by Kervin DeVonish
Resilience / U.S.A. (Director: James Redford) — This film chronicles the birth of a new movement among pediatricians, therapists, educators, and communities using cutting edge brain science to disrupt cycles of violence, addiction, and disease. These professionals help break the cycles of adversity by daring to talk about the effects of divorce, abuse, and neglect. World Premiere
Under the Gun / U.S.A. (Director: Stephanie Soechtig) — The Sandy Hook massacre was considered a watershed moment in the national debate on gun control, but the body count at the hands of gun violence has only increased. Through the lens of the victims’ families, as well as pro gun advocates, we examine why our politicians have failed to act. World Premiere
Complete Unknown / U .S.A. (Director: Joshua Marston, Screenwriters: Joshua Marston, Julian Sheppard) — When Tom and his wife host a dinner party to celebrate his birthday, one of their friends brings a date named Alice. Tom is convinced he knows her, but she’s going by a different name and a different biography—and she’s not acknowledging that she knows him. Cast: Rachel Weisz, Michael Shannon, Kathy Bates, Danny Glover, Michael Chernus.
Mr. Pig / Mexico (Director: Diego Luna, Screenwriters: Augusto Mendoza, Diego Luna) — On a mission to sell his last remaining prize hog and reunite with old friends, an aging farmer abandons his foreclosed farm and journeys to Mexico. After smuggling in the hog, his estranged daughter shows up, forcing them to face their past and embark on an adventurous road trip together. Cast: Danny Glover, Maya Rudolph, José María Yazpik, Joel Murray, Angélica Aragón, Gabriela Araujo. World Premiere
Sophie and the Rising Sun / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Maggie Greenwald) — In a small Southern town in the autumn of 1941, Sophie’s lonely life is transformed when an Asian man arrives under mysterious circumstances. Their love affair becomes the lightning rod for long buried conflicts that erupt in bigotry and violence with the outbreak of World War ll. Cast: Julianne Nicholson, Margo Martindale, Lorraine Toussaint, Takashi Yamaguchi, Diane Ladd, Joel Murray. World Premiere. S ALT LAKE CITY GALA FILM
O.J.: Made in America / U.S.A. (Director: Ezra Edelman) — This is the story of O.J. Simpson, one of the most polarizing people of the twentieth century, and the city in which he lived for much of his life, Los Angeles. The film explores Simpson’s rise and fall, centered around two of America’s greatest fixations—race and celebrity. The Festival will premiere the full 7.5hour documentary, followed by an extended Q&A. World Premiere
United Shades of America / U .S.A. (Executive Producers: Jimmy Fox, W. Kamau Bell, Star Price, Ethan Berlin) — Political comedian W. Kamau Bell explores the racial subcultures of America. In this CNN original series premiere, he uses humor to challenge Klansmen looking to rebrand their message. Cast: W. Kamau Bell.
Must see Short Films
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Swimming in Your Skin Again YúYú
The Send Off