In a last-minute decision to keep people safe, the 2022 Sundance Film Festival has gone virtual—to take a deep dive and to learn more, hit the website. https://festival.sundance.org/.
Since Sundance had to pivot and return to a virtual festival this year, in theory, the festival is more accessible than ever. Moreover, the selection includes feature films, documentaries, shorts, and experimental programs.
To be frank, the 2022 Sundance festival feels light on African American storytelling and storytellers.
Here are a few more highlights that caught our eye.
“ᎤᏕᏲᏅ ( (pronounced oo-de-yo-NUH) (What They’ve Been Taught)”
Directed by Brit Hensel with Keli Gonzales.
Exploring expressions of reciprocity in the Cherokee world, brought to life through a story told by an elder and first language speaker, Hensel is the first woman who is a citizen of Cherokee Nation to direct an official selection at the festival. Watch the trailer: https://bit.ly/3GF77qH
“Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul”
Written and directed by Adamma Ebo, and produced by Adanne Ebo, Daniel Kaluuya, Rowan Riley, Amandla Crichlow, Jesse Burgum, Matthew Cooper.
As the proud first lady of a Southern Baptist megachurch, Trinitie Childs carries immense responsibility on her shoulders. Starring Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown.
Directed by Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman. Executive produced by Lin-Manuel Miranda, and produced by Ezra Miller and Stephen Hendel.
This film is the first collaborative feature by Anisia Uzeyman and slam poet Saul Williams that 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 (played by both Cheryl Isheja and Elvis Ngabo “Bobo”), and a grieving coltan miner (Bertrand Ninteretse “Kaya Free”).
Directed by Tonya Lewis Lee (Spike Lee’s wife) and Paula Eiselt.
Following the deaths of their partners due to preventable childbirth complications and medical negligence, two bereaved fathers galvanize activists, birth-workers, and physicians to reckon with one of the most pressing yet unspoken American crises of our time—the U.S. maternal health crisis.
Directed by Mariama Diallo.
Three women strive to find their place at an elite New England university. As the insidious specter of racism haunts the campus in increasingly supernatural fashion, each fights to survive in this space of privilege.
Starring Regina Hall, Zoe Renee, Talia Ryder, Talia Balsam, Amber Gray.
Directed by Carey Williams.
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.
By director/producer/director of photography Isabel Castro.
This documentary tugged on the heartstrings and is a clear labor of love by Isabel Castro. And, I am sure that you are aware that large sections of Harlem are now populated by hard-working immigrants from Mexico. The shift in the new immigrants uptown piqued my interest, and once I watched the wonderfully crafted “Mija,” I knew that I wanted to know more.
“Mija” focuses on Doris Muñoz, an ambitious, young music manager whose undocumented family depends on her ability to launch pop stars. When she loses her best client, Doris hustles to discover new talent and finds Jacks—another daughter of immigrants for whom “making it” isn’t just a dream: it’s a necessity.
Isabel Castro is a four-time Emmy-nominated, Mexican American filmmaker who combines a practice in journalism and art to tell stories about immigration, civil rights, and identity. She splits her time between Mexico City and Los Angeles.
Castro directed, produced, and filmed the Emmy-nominated, award-winning documentary short “USA v. Scott” (Tribeca 2020, The New Yorker), Emmy-nominated “Darlin” (Tribeca 2019, NYT OpDocs), and the Emmy-nominated Netflix docu-series “Pandemic.” Her debut project “Crossing Over” (Univision/Participant Media) won a 2015 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Documentary. Interviews about her work on “Crossing Over” were nominated for two additional GLAAD awards. She’s worked on dozens of stories as a producer, cinematographer and multimedia journalist for The New York Times, as an Edward R. Murrow-award winning producer at The Marshall Project, on two seasons of the Emmy-award winning series “VICE” on HBO, and as an Emmy-nominated producer covering civil rights and policy at VICE News Tonight on HBO.
“Mija” is her feature-length debut. “Mija” has received support from the Sundance Institute, Impact Partners, Cinereach, the SFFILM Catapult Documentary Fellowship, Points North Institute / CNN Films, Fork Films, Chicken & E! Pictures, Firelight Media, and NBCU Academy & NBC News Studios Original Voices. Castro is an artist-in-residence at Concordia Studio, and was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” and DOC NYC’s “40 Under 40”, both in 2021.
Here is what Isabel Castro had to share about making the documentary “Mija” which will screen at the Sundance Film Festival, 2022.
AMSTERDAM NEWS: How did this project originate?
ISABEL CASTRO: I spent years covering immigration for media outlets, including The New York Times and The Marshall Project. While I’m proud of that work, I also found myself frustrated by the limitations of those formats. I was longing to convey the incredibly complex dynamics of immigrant families and all the emotions they navigate, including guilt, resentment, and anger. So I turned to filmmaking.
AMN: What interested you in making “Mija”?
IC: I was particularly interested in telling this kind of story from the perspective of young protagonists. As a teenager, I felt like there was a shortage of stories about what it meant to come of age as an immigrant or as a child of immigrants in the United States. I wanted to tell the kind of story I craved myself, as a Mexican immigrant when I was figuring out my identity, family, and community.