We’ve arrived and survived another new year. Since the 1980s, the month of January hosts the much anticipated Sundance Film Festival, and in 2022, the festival has made the decision to create another fully virtual experience after the news and staggering numbers of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Nonetheless, all is not lost. Sundance attendees will be able to experience a myriad of new films with the hopes of being distributed and streamed by major companies like Lionsgate, Hulu and Netflix. We sincerely wish all of the filmmakers and creators the best and we particularly hope that the Black films being featured are offered the opportunities of being shared with the world.
Here are five Black films we’re very excited about for the Sundance Film Festival 2022.
“Emergency,” Carey Williams
The talented young Black filmmaker Carey Williams returns to Sundance with his new film, “Emergency,” a full-length version of a short film by the same name. The 2018 Special Jury Award winner offers a dark comedy about racial dynamics in education and Black police engagement.
Plot: Straight-A college student Kunle and his laid-back best friend, Sean, are about to have the most epic night of their lives. Determined to be the first Black students to complete their school’s frat party legendary tour, the friends strap in for their ultimate assignment, Solo cups in hand. But a quick pit stop at home alters their plans when they find a white girl passed out on the living room floor. Faced with the risks of calling the police under life-threatening optics, Kunle, Sean, and their Latino roommate, Carlos, must find a way to de-escalate the situation before it’s too late.
“Neptune Frost,” Anisia Uzeyman and Saul Williams
Saul Williams along with his wife and creative partner Anisia Uzeyman create an imaginative, otherworldly film about technology in the African diaspora. This fantasy film is the product of many years of Williams’ work crafting this story in many different formations as it first emerged as a music project called MartyrLoserKing.
Plot: A cinematic vision born out of a war that forces its citizenry to inhabit other dimensions, “Neptune Frost,” which debuted to critical acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival, is a film that becomes richer with every rewatch, and is destined to occupy the upper echelons of the Afrofuturism canon. “Neptune Frost” hacks the conventions of moviemaking to give us this musical science fiction hybrid set in Rwanda about a transcending connection between an intersex runaway, Neptune, and a grieving coltan miner.
“Alice,” Krystin Ver Linden
“Alice” is a Black star-studded film traversing the world of Black liberation. Keke Palmer and Common break the mold with an interesting film about enslavement and the powerful constructs and misinformation that has kept a Black woman in captivity until the 1970s.
Plot: Alice spends her days enslaved on a rural Georgia plantation restlessly yearning for freedom. After a violent clash with plantation owner Paul (Jonny Lee Miller), Alice flees through the neighboring woods and stumbles onto the unfamiliar sight of a highway, soon discovering that the year is actually 1973. Rescued on the roadside by a disillusioned Black activist named Frank, Alice uncovers the lies that have kept her enslaved and the promise of Black liberation.
“Aftershock,” Paula Eiselt and Tonya Lewis Lee
Filmmakers Tonya Lewis Lee (Spike Lee’s wife) and Paula Eislet explore the trauma and activism of reproductive rights in this powerful documentary, “Aftershock.” This film shares a penetrating story of Black life and loss as they follow the growth and activism of grieving two grieving husbands and fathers.
Synopsis: An alarmingly disproportionate number of Black women are failed every year by the
U.S. maternal health system. Shamony Gibson and Amber Rose Isaac were vibrant, excited mothers-to-be whose deaths due to childbirth complications were preventable. Now, their partners and families are determined to sound a rallying cry around this chilling yet largely ignored crisis. Directors Paula Eiselt and Tonya Lewis Lee follow Gibson’s and Isaac’s bereaved partners, Omari Maynard and Bruce McIntyre, as they fight for justice and build communities of support, bonding especially with other surviving Black fathers.
“jeen-yuhs: A Kanye trilogy,” Clarence “Coodie” Simmons & Chike Ozah
A new film exploring the very early years of Kanye West via a 1998 interview West did with access television hose Coodie. This documentary gives insight into the rise of West and the elements that took him to international stardom.
Synopsis: One fateful night at Jermaine Dupri’s birthday party in 1998, Coodie, a Chicago public access TV host, first interviewed 21-year-old up-and-coming hip hop producer Kanye West. Inspired by the film “Hoop Dreams,” Coodie started to document West’s life to see how far his dreams would take him. When West moved to New York City to land a record deal, Coodie followed with camera in hand. He recorded West for years, from the hustle of his budding producer days through his rise to global icon. This epic three-film documentary features hours of fly-on-the-wall footage and paints a sweeping portrait of one of pop culture’s most controversial figures.