Black films took center stage at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival | Movies


Sundance 2022 featured a slew of films with a black lens, films that focused on global blackness and featured black actors in roles that offered some range and nuance.

Here is a list of films that made an impression and deserved to be seen by a wider audience.

Nanny“Nanny” won the Grand Jury Prize at the American Drama Competition. Nikyatu Jusu directed this horror folk film about a Senegalese immigrant woman hired as a nanny for an upper-class white family. The film depicts the disparity between an undocumented worker, Aisha (Anna Diop), and the upper-class family she works for while saving money to bring her child to America. Anna Diop delivers an enthralling performance, with director Nikyatu going back to the ancestors using water as the film’s common thread. The film has not yet been purchased for distribution, but hopefully that will change.

Buyer: No distribution currently

EmergencyCollege friends Sean and Kunle plan a legendary night of partying before they go their separate ways at graduation in Carey Willima’s “Emergency.” The discovery of an unconscious white woman on their floor upsets the projection of their evening. At the heart of the debate is whether to call 911 and why that might not be the best option given the optics. Carey Williams, the director, uses the humor and setting of a predominantly white college setting to heighten this authentic discussion between the police and the community. RJ Ryder (Sean) and Donald Elise Watkins (Kunle) deliver outstanding performances.

DescendingThe power to preserve one’s history is illustrated in Margaret Brown’s Descendant. The story centers on a slave ship named The Clotilda. This ship transported 110 enslaved Africans to Mobile, Alabama, more than 50 years after the slave trade was punishable by death. To conceal the evidence, the ship was destroyed. This story of what happened to the descendants and their owners was buried, but the ancestors of the slaves began to speak, relieving the atrocity.

Brown deliberately demonstrates how the Meaher family (slave owners) maintain a stranglehold on the community by controlling the land, with factories letting chemicals into the water, leading to medical problems in the community.

Questlove (Ahmir Thompson) is one of the producers of this film recently acquired for Netflix by Obama’s production company Higher Ground.

Honk for Jesus. save your soulDirectors Adamma Ebo used a mockumentary to tell the story of a disgraced pastor named Lee Curtis Child (Sterling K. Brown) and his first lady, Trinitie Childs (Regina Hall). In the midst of a sex scandal, the pastor of the mega-church fights to reclaim the star he cares about most. Adamma Ebo has used his upbringing in Atlanta to expose the cracks in the black church, especially the mega-churches that preach the prosperity gospel. This film will have you laughing and thinking about how these places of “healing” turned into areas of pain and trauma, thanks to stellar performances from Brown and Hall.

Buyer: No distribution currently

MasterDirector/screenwriter Mariama Diallo uses a haunted college backdrop to highlight the hardships of a black student’s experiences at a former New England college while showing the journey and tribulations of the college’s first black dean. Regina Hall plays the dean, the master, and Zoe Renee plays Jasmine Moore, a black student assigned to the dreaded haunted hall. Diallo uses ghosts and history to demonstrate the microaggressions and racism that everyone faces. A university proud of its diversity clings to the past and its racist ideologies.

God’s countrySandra (Newton) is tired of accepting things as they are. A former New Orleans police officer is now a tenured professor at a rural college. She is fed up with life and all it has to offer. Hurricane Katrina was responsible for the forced relocation. After recently burying her mother, everything seems to hit her at once. The only thing she has control over is who can walk on her land. A new set of complex issues arise because of the dispute, issues that she is willing to face head-on. A pair of intruder hunters tested this to the point of nausea. We know this won’t end well because Sandra is keen not to bend. Writer/director Julian Higgins and screenwriter Shaye Ogbonna make some interesting choices that will lead to complex conversations. Thandiwe Newton demonstrates why she’s one of the best actresses working today as a complex, wounded woman who refuses to let go.

Buyer: No distribution currently

Mars One (Marte Um)The story of an Afro-Brazilian family is told in “Mars One”. The film focuses on the Martin family, all of whom have contradictory dreams. They are a lower middle class family. Themes ran through the heart of the films, including patriarchy, homosexuality, religion and a love of football. Deivinho (Cícero Lucas) is overwhelmed by his father’s dream of becoming a professional footballer, while he dreams of becoming an astronaut. His older sister, Eunice (Camilla Damião), is dying to be free from her parents’ control. Mom (Rejane Faria) is going through a series of dreadful days and Wellington (Carlos Francisco), a recovering alcoholic, is desperate to regain his place at the head of this family.

What sets director Gabriel Martins’ film apart is that it’s one of the few to focus on Afro-Brazilians living in Brazil without any of the tropes typically associated with that population. It’s resolutely black and Brazilian. At its core, it’s about loving and learning to accept that being different doesn’t mean being inferior.

Buyer: Magnolia International

892John Boyega gives a riveting performance as Lance Corporal Brian Brown-Easley. It depicts a veteran with PTSD who decides to rob a bank because his disability check has been garnished. This film also features Michael K. Willimas’ final performance as hostage negotiator Eli Bernard. While some of the movie’s beats can be a little slow, the heart of the film is Boyega’s performance. It illustrates the hypocrisy of patriotism. We send young men to war to end conflicts started by older men, then leave them to fend for themselves when they return. Nicole Beharie plays bank manager Estel Valerie, attempting to bring things to a peaceful conclusion. The film raises many questions, but Boyega keeps us in suspense until the end.

Alice“Alice” is the film with the most complexities. Based on a true story, “Alice” is set in the 1970s on a plantation that still houses slaves. Young Alice (KeKe Palmer) is unaware that black people are free until she escapes and meets truck driver Frank (Common), who tries to explain to her that slavery was abolished ages ago. decades and that it is, in fact, in 1973. goes from a slave movie to a Blaxploitation movie, with Alice quickly learning how to use modern tools. While stories about slavery are essential, it’s also essential to tell them with nuance and care, rather than just for entertainment value.

Buyer: Vertical Entertainment and Roadside Attraction


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