Connect with us

Film Festival Coverage

18 Black Films Premiering At Sundance 2021 Everyone Needs To See



sundance 2021 black films to watch

I don’t know about you, but January has come and gone in a flash! One minute we were staring at the capital dumbfounded at how easy it is to break in when you’re white, next thing you know we’re saying hello to our new President (and laughing at Bernie Sanders’ memes) and boom it’s the end of the month!

And with the end of the month comes one of the most loved film festivals in the world, Sundance, which I am blessed (and grateful) to be covering this year!

Sundance 2021 has a TON of films to watch, but these 18 Black films are the ones you can’t miss! So if you’ll be attending the Sundance 2021 Film Festival this year, here are …

18 Black Films You Need to Watch

FYI … if you don’t already have tickets for Sundance, you’ll definitely want to hurry before these films are sold out! Sundance starts this Thurs., Jan 28th.

Black Feature Films to Watch At Sundance 2021



A still from Ailey by Jamila Wignot, an official selection of the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Jack Mitchell.

Many know the name Alvin Ailey, but how many know the man? Ailey’s commitment to searching for truth in movement resulted in pioneering and enduring choreography that centers on African American experiences.

Director Jamila Wignot’s resonant biography grants artful access to the elusive visionary who founded one of the world’s most renowned dance companies, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.


Wignot’s approach shares Ailey’s love of poetry. Where Ailey conveyed poetry through movement, Wignot crafts a visual poetry to evoke Ailey’s memories. Archival footage, layered with audio recordings, expounds on Ailey’s upbringing and establishes the language of his inspiration.

Interviews with celebrated company dancers and distinguished choreographers give insight into Ailey’s process and legacy, while the current company of dancers work to bring a tribute to life. Wignot’s portrait is complex, capturing the talent and confidence of a man in the spotlight while also carving out space for Ailey’s vulnerability. Wignot moves between the interior and exterior, the inhale and exhale, to capture Ailey’s reverberating impact.


First Date

Tyson Brown and Shelby Duclos appear in First Date by Manuel Crosby and Darren Knapp, an official selection of the NEXT section at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Mike, a high school kid with a crush, finally summons the courage to ask Kelsey out on a date. With a date but no wheels, Mike borrows money and gets duped into buying a clunker ’65 Chrysler. Although many a first date goes awry, Mike’s swiftly descends into a surreal misadventure that finds him inexplicably targeted by a pair of cops, a criminal gang, and a vengeful cat lady—with all roads leading to a showdown.

First Date is a purely entertaining throwback, billed by newcomer directing duo Manuel Crosby and Darren Knapp as a dark comedy and coming-of-age thriller (Superbad meets True Romance).

As an ode to the bygone movies of the directors’ youth, the film takes unexpected turns through a mishmash of genres without losing its way, deftly balancing tone and playfully reimagining the collision of teenage incorruptibility and real-world cynicism. Propelled by its fantastic lead, Tyson Brown, and the impressive cinematic instincts of Crosby and Knapp, First Date is an outstanding first feature.


Judas and the Black Messiah

Lakeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya appear in Judas and the Black Messiah by Shaka King, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Glen Wilson.

Fred Hampton’s cathartic words “I am a revolutionary” became a rallying call in 1969. As chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, Hampton demanded all power to the people and inspired a growing movement of solidarity, prompting the FBI to consider him a threat and to plant informant William O’Neal to infiltrate the party.

Judas and the Black Messiah not only recounts Hampton’s legacy and the FBI’s conspiring but also gives equal footing to the man who became infamous for his betrayal—highlighting the systems of inequality and oppression that fed both of their roles.


Director Shaka King returns to the Sundance Film Festival with an incredible cast of Sundance alums led by Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield. Kaluuya channels Hampton’s ability to energize and unite communities, while Stanfield taps into the anguish of a man with conflicting allegiances.

Dominique Fishback also stands out in her reserved yet confronting performance as Deborah Johnson, Hampton’s life partner. King’s magnetic film carries themes that continue to resonate today and serves as a reminder of the potent power of the people.


MY NAME IS PAULI MURRAY sundance films to watch 2021

Photo Credit: Sundance Film Festival 2021

It’s not often we’re introduced to a true luminary, and Pauli Murray was just that—as well as a lawyer, Black activist, feminist, poet, and priest. Murray questioned systems of oppression and conformity throughout the mid-twentieth century, with a radical vision consistently ahead of the times. Murray’s trailblazing legal foresight influenced landmark civil rights decisions and gender equality legislation that transformed our world.

Directors Betsy West and Julie Cohen (RBG, 2018 Sundance Film Festival) return to Sundance with an illuminating portrait of an inspiring leader. Murray’s writings, photographs, and audio recordings, along with newly discovered footage and interviews, interlace to tell the story of a pioneer with a tenacious spirit.

West and Cohen balance numerous professional accomplishments with a window into Murray’s full and complex private life. Murray’s personal letters reveal years of grappling with and resisting gender categories, affectionate exchanges with loved ones, and confident and resolute demands for justice. Pauli Murray has a legacy far-reaching and deep. This is a name you won’t soon forget.


Night of the Kings

Koné Bakary and Anzian Marcel appear in Night of the Kings by Philippe Lacôte, an official selection of the Spotlight section at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Philippe Lacôte’s gripping second feature, Night of the Kings, has won acclaim at major festivals since premiering at the Venice International Film Festival.

A new arrival at Ivory Coast’s infamous MACA prison is quickly anointed the institution’s “Roman”—a griot instructed to tell stories for the population at the command of reigning inmate king, the ailing Blackbeard.


Roman must ascertain his place in the prison’s dangerously shifting inmate politics, embrace his inner Scheherazade, and weave a tale that will get them all through the night and stave off impending chaos.

Night of the Kings is a bold, imaginative ode to the power of storytelling and a layered, compelling portrait of the complexities of life within the prison walls.

Roman’s desperately woven tales cleverly embody the turmoil surrounding him, and Lacôte enhances their fantastical and dramatic effect by interjecting glorious cinematic depictions of the boy’s imaginings. The horde of listening prisoners transforms into a makeshift chorus, translating the tales into song and dance, intensifying the film’s enthralling effect.



Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson appear in Passing by Rebecca Hall, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Edu Grau.

Irene Redfield (Tessa Thompson), a refined, upper-class 1920s woman, finds breezy refuge from a hot summer day in the grand tearoom of New York City’s Drayton Hotel.

Across the room, she spots a blond woman staring her down. Irene wants to steal away, but before she can, Clare Kendry (Ruth Negga) rushes over to stop her. It turns out the two were in high school together, and while both are African American women who can “pass” as white, they have chosen to live on opposite sides of the color line. Now, their renewed acquaintance threatens them both.

Passing is an elegant psychological thriller about obsession, repression, and the lies people tell themselves and others to protect their carefully constructed realities.


In her debut feature, Rebecca Hall uses creamy, mesmerizing black-and-white cinematography and a deft directorial restraint to adapt Nella Larsen’s acclaimed 1929 Harlem Renaissance novel into an affecting experiential insight into the pursuit of happiness and authenticity by those navigating the grinding tensions of American racism.



Camaron Engels and Francesca Noel appear in R#J by Carey Williams, an official selection of the NEXT section at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Charles Murphy.

In fair Verona, a war as old as time is brewing between rival houses—but it’s being captured in a new way. Montague and Capulet Gen Zers are using their cell phones to document the eruptions of violence plaguing their communities. In the middle of it all, Romeo discovers Juliet’s artwork at a party, and the two inevitably fall in love. As tensions between their families escalate, the two plead for peace and desperately search for a way to escape their star-crossed destiny.

Told entirely through social media and smartphone screens, this bold adaptation of Romeo and Juliet reinvents the world’s most enduring love story with style and lyricism, with black and brown youth at the heart of it all.

Blending text messages and Shakespearean dialogue, R#J takes us into the subversive love language of the moment, where GIFs, Spotify playlist exchanges, and Instagram profiles kindle romance and unexpected windows of vulnerability. Sundance shorts alum Carey Williams (Emergency) launches us into the impressive vision of his debut feature, where technology powerfully unveils timelessness.


Summer Of Soul (Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

A still from Summer Of Soul (Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, an official selection of the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Mass Distraction Media.

In 1969, during the same summer as Woodstock, a different music festival took place 100 miles away. More than 300,000 people attended the summer concert series known as the Harlem Cultural Festival.

It was filmed, but after that summer, the footage sat in a basement for 50 years. It has never been seen. Until now.

Summer Of Soul is a stunning unearthed treasure destined to become a pillar of American music and African American history. In his striking debut as a filmmaker, the legendary musician Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson presents this transporting documentary—part concert film, part historical record—about an epic event that radiated the wholesale reevaluation of Black history, culture, fashion, and music.


This rich tapestry deftly incorporates an unforgettable musical revue that includes many rare gems, such as a Stevie Wonder drum solo and a duet between Mahalia Jackson and Mavis Staples. Summer Of Soul shines a light on the importance of history to our spiritual well-being and stands as a testament to the healing power of music.

Black Short Films to Watch At Sundance 2021


Black Bodies

Komi Olaf appears in Black Bodies by Kelly Fyffe-Marshall, an official selection of the Shorts Program at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Yvonne Stanley.

A Black man comes face-to-face with the realities of being Black in the twenty-first century.



Noble B. Whitted appears in Bruiser by Miles Warren, an official selection of the Shorts Program at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

After his father gets into a fight at a bowling alley, Darious begins to investigate the limitations of his own manhood.


A Concerto is a Conversation

A still from A Concerto is a Conversation by Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers, an official selection of the Shorts Program at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

A virtuoso jazz pianist and film composer tracks his family’s lineage through his 91-year-old grandfather from Jim Crow Florida to the Walt Disney Concert Hall.


Dear Philadelphia

A still from Dear Philadelphia by Renee Osubu, an official selection of the Shorts Program at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Luis Lopez.

With the help of their family, friends, and faith, three fathers unravel the incomparable partnership of forgiveness and community in North Philadelphia.


sundance 2021 films to watch Don't Go Tellin' Your Momma

A still from Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma by Topaz Jones and rubberband., an official selection of the Shorts Program at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

In 1970, Black educators in Chicago developed alphabet flash cards to provide Black-centered teaching materials to the vastly white educational landscape, and the Black ABCs were born. Fifty years later, 26 scenes provide an update to their meanings.


sundance 2021 films to watch Five Tiger

Ayanda Seoka appears in Five Tiger by Nomawonga Khumalo, an official selection of the Shorts Program at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Rick Joaquim.

A God-fearing woman in present-day South Africa finds herself in a transactional relationship as she tries to support her sick husband and daughter.


sundance 2021 films to watch I Ran From It and Was Still In It

Miale Assata Kay, Malakhi Justice Kay and Darol Olu Kae appear in I Ran From It and Was Still In It by Darol Olu Kae, an official selection of the Shorts Program at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

A poetic meditation on familial loss and separation, as well as the love that endures against dispersion.


sundance 2021 films to watch Lizard

Hamilat Olanrewaju and Pamilerin Ayodeji appear Lizard by Akinola Davies Jr., an official selection of the Shorts Program at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by British Broadcasting Corporation and Potboiler Productions Ltd.

Juwon, an eight-year-old girl with an ability to sense danger, gets ejected from Sunday school service. She unwittingly witnesses the underbelly in and around a megachurch in Lagos.


sundance 2021 films to watch Up at Night

A still from Up at Night by Nelson Makengo, an official selection of the Shorts Program at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by twentyninestudioproduction.

As dusk fades and another night without electricity falls, Kinshasa’s neighborhoods reveal an environment of violence, political conflict, and uncertainty over the building of the Grand Inga 3 hydroelectric dam, which promises a permanent source of energy to the Congo.


WHITE WEDDING sundance films to watch 2021

Photo Credit: Sundance Film Festival 2021

Amidst a racially tense Southern wedding, a biracial bride has the chance to confront her estranged Black father after accidentally hiring his wedding band to perform.

What films are you excited to watch at the Sundance 2021 Film Festival?

Shaye is an Entertainment Writer from Brooklyn, NY and a big fan of anything and everything superpowers related (especially if kids/teens are involved), cooking + baking shows (like MasterChef Junior and Cupcake Wars), teen dramas, sitcoms, comedies, and legal dramas. When she's not binging the latest series on Netflix or writing, you can find her spilling her thoughts on the Brown Side of Disney Chat or creating YouTube videos with her daughter for their new family site, Popcorn and Tater Tots.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Film Festival Coverage

A Review Of “Swarm” Prime Video’s New Insane Series About A Black Girl Serial Killer For Scaredy Cats — Is It Safe To Watch?

“Swarm” is Prime Video’s new insane series starring Dominique Fishback, Chloë Bailey, and Damson Idris — about a Black girl serial killer that gives us major ‘Beyhive’ vibes and yes it’s worth a watch! (Even if you’re a scaredy cat like me.)



is swarm on prime scary
Courtesy of Prime Video

From co-creators and executive producers Janine Nabers and Donald Glover, “Swarm” follows Dre (Dominique Fishback), an obsessed fan of the world’s biggest pop star who sets off on an unexpected cross-country journey. The series premiered its first two episodes at the SXSW 2023 Film Festival, which I was fortunate enough to attend and thoroughly enjoyed.

But is “Swarm” scary?

If you’re reading this “Swarm” review, it’s probably because you hate all things horror, and you’re a scaredy cat … just like me. And that’s cool … I get it! So the real question of the day is: “Is “Swarm” scary? Like ACTUALLY scary? Or can my Black ass actually sit through this thang without shitting bricks? Every time a Black creator releases a horror or thriller … I cringe because I know I need to watch it (for the culture — and to review), but I hate them. And not because I just “hate” them, but because I’m a big ass scaredy cat!

What I really hate is:

  • the sight of blood
  • seeing or hearing bones breaking
  • being startled (aka jumping up outta my seat like I forgot the damn stove on)
  • extreme violence (think repeatedly stabbing someone as if they ain’t already dead)
  • racial incidents that’s sure to trigger any Black person
  • watching kids get hurt

And probably a ton of other shit!

But since it’s my duty to you, the culture (and myself) to review Black films all year round, I’m trying to make peace with the fact that this includes horror and thriller!


So Here’s A Quick Review Of “Swarm” For Scaredy Cats

is swarm scary

Is “Swarm” Scary?

After finishing “Swarm” on Prime Video, I realized that while it’s a whole f*cking lot, it’s actually not scary at all! And yes, I too think that’s weird. But it’s not meant to be a horror story. It’s actually a psychological thriller, about real life events (and internet rumors), so I think the interesting and intriguing outweighs the scare factor in this one.

But if you don’t like horror there are a few things to watch out for.

What actually bothered me:

Don’t laugh when I say this, but nothing actually bothered me while watching this. I don’t know if that’s because it’s extremely fascinating to watch Dominique Fishback switch back and forth from a sweet (but weird), lovable child to a psychotic serial killer.

Or if it’s because the serial killer in this series is a Black girl, and feels less threatening than say — a white adult male, like so many other series are based on, including my fave Netflix serial killer series “You“. However — the elements of horror that I hate are present, but they just don’t hit hard enough to actually scare me into skipping them. And I like it that way.

The same way we think Jordan Peele films are more intriguing than scary, is exactly how many will react to “Swarm”.

Courtesy of Prime Video

What you need to know before watching “Swarm” if you absolutely hate horror:

If you have melissophobia, or apiphobia

Aka the fear of bees, beware! While we rarely ever see them, we do hear the bees often.

And yes, it’s a nod to the “Beyhive” as you’ll see while watching, so hopefully they’ll make you think of Beyoncé instead of actual bees?


Other things to watch out for:

  • the sight of blood (and lots of it) — there’s even a scene with Dre mopping up blood like you’ll see in the trailer, or in my TikTok recap video of the SXSW x Swarm Mini Mart event
  • being startled — you’ll know what’s coming before it happens, so that takes most of the scare out of these scenes, but there’s a bit of suspense that could scare you
  • there’s a cop scene — where Dre gets stopped, and yes the cop is white and stalker-ish, so that could trigger some trauma if you’ve got any (from your own experience or even just the news)
  • the kills are violent, and repetitive (meaning she stabs/hits again and again) but you can fast forward a tad if it bothers you (it didn’t feel intense as most kill scenes do so it didn’t bother me)
  • suicide is mentioned, but we don’t see the act being committed
  • if white girl cults make you uneasy, then you’ve been warned
  • while the cop scene doesn’t have any shooting involved, there is a shotgun pointed and shot at Dre to harm her (thankfully not from anyone white)
Courtesy of Prime Video

Do I recommend watching “Swarm” even if you hate horror?


Like I said, it’s insane, but it’s only 7 short episodes. (They’re about 30 mins long each.) So it’s easy to binge over the weekend, and then watch a few Abbott Elementary episodes right after, if that’s what you’ll need to sleep better at night. But I didn’t need to watch anything funny afterwards to calm down.

The series really isn’t that deep.

It’s just cute commentary on how stan fans take shit way too damn far, and how the stan culture can hurt others. It’s also cool to see a Black woman take up space in a realm we don’t often see them in. And Dominque’s an incredible actress, so the series is worth watching for just her alone!

Plus there’s that sex scene that everyone keeps talking about? So I guess you could also watch it for that, although it’s so much more than a sex scene.

Courtesy of Prime Video

Now Here’s A Few Tips To Get Through “Swarm” If You Plan On Watching It (And You Hate Horror)

  1. Turn yo muhfudging sound down bruh! Horror thrives on sound!
  2. Keep the lights on. Why in the world would you watch this in the dark? Candles, something!
  3. Watch this at home! That way you can control your surroundings.
  4. Fast forward if needed. You don’t need to watch how everyone is killed to follow the story.
  5. Watch with a friend. Thrillers and horror stories are easier to stomach, when you’re not watching alone.

Rating: 4.5/5

Continue Reading

Film Festival Coverage

Everything You Need To See And Do (For The Culture) At SXSW 2023



sxsw 2023 film festival

If you’re heading to Austin, Texas for the South by South West (SXSW) 2023 Film Festival, there’s a ton of dope films and tv shows to see, and a few cool film + tv related events to attend. But with so much happening, a lot of the awesome stuff gets lost in the sauce … or in this case in all of the emails I’ve received over the last few weeks heading up to the event. And if you’re *ahem* of color … dare I say BIPOC … ew, never mind, that was awful — but if you are, then I know you’re probably in search of creatives of color you can support (for the culture).

So here’s a list of the coolest films, tv shows, and events for everyone of color to watch and do while at the SXSW 2023 Film Festival. And in the words of our Canadian friend, you can thank me now.

SXSW 2023 Film Festival: Everything You Should See And Do If You’re Looking To Support Creatives Of Color

What To Watch At SXSW 2023


This new Prime Video series about an obsessed, Houston-based fan who goes to increasingly violent lengths for her fave R&B singer, stars Dominique Fishback and Chloe Bailey, and is one of my most anticipated premieres of the fest.

Story Ave

Desperate to join “Outside The Lines”, a graffiti gang, South Bronx native Kadir Grayson, attempts to rob Luis, an older Puerto Rican MTA conductor on the Story Ave subway platform. But when Luis offers him the cash he needs – for the first time in his life, Kadir entertains the possibility of his artistic talent being a conduit to a better life. The film stars Asante Blackk and Luis Guzmán, and as a Native New Yorker who also happens to love graffiti, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how this one plays out.

Flamin’ Hot

Directed by Eva Longoria, “Flamin’ Hot” is the story of Richard Montañez, the Frito Lay janitor who channeled his Mexican American heritage and upbringing to turn Flamin’ Hot Cheetos into a snack that disrupted the food industry and became a global phenomenon.


The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster

Vicaria is a brilliant teenager who believes death is a disease that can be cured. After the brutal and sudden murder of her brother, she embarks on a dangerous journey to bring him back to life. Inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, “The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster” thematically challenges our ideas of life and death. And I’m totally here for a “Black Frankenstein”.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Regé-Jean Page (Bridgerton) and Justice Smith (Pokémon Detective Pikachu) star in this story of a charming thief and a band of unlikely adventurers who undertake an epic heist to retrieve a lost relic, and I can’t wait to see them both on screen again!

“Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” brings the rich world and playful spirit of the legendary roleplaying game to the big screen in a hilarious and action-packed adventure.

Love To Love You, Donna Summer

“Love to Love You, Donna Summer” captures a richly complex picture of the woman, the artist, the wife, and mother whose iconic voice changed music forever. An archive of exclusive, previously unseen film, home video, photographs, artwork, personal audio, and other recordings form the film’s vibrant exploration of the life and career of one of the most extraordinary performers ever to shake a room to its timbers.

I’m A Virgo

Directed by Boots Riley, and featuring Jharrel Jerome, Brett Gray Olivia Washington, and Mike Epps — “I’m a Virgo” is a fantastical coming-of-age joyride about Cootie, a 13-foot tall young Black man in Oakland, California. The series is a mythic examination of what happens when the oppressed finally rise up – and asks why we are so often asked to identify with the oppressors in our stories, rather than the true heroes we often overlook.


If You Were the Last

Starring our Captain America … I mean, Anthony Mackie — “If You Were The Last” tells us the story of Adam and Jane, who are three years into a NASA mission that has gone very wrong. One day, Adam poses that maybe they should sleep together, thus beginning a friendly, flirty debate about whether they’re better off spending their remaining days as friends or something more.


“Bottoms” follows two unpopular girls in their senior year who start a fight club to try to impress and hook up with cheerleaders and features Ayo Edebiri (from Hulu’s “The Bear”).

The Young Wife

Directed by Tayarisha Poe, who gave us “Selah And The Spades” and starring Kiersey Clemons, Leon Bridges, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Lovie Simone — “The Young Wife” is the story of a young woman grappling with the meaning of love in the face of an uncertain world. It’s a sunny day panic attack and a wholly new take on the wedding film following her over the course of her “non-wedding” day.


It’s the mid-90’s in Northern California and 13-year-old Pakistani-American Ilyas is facing a major crisis — public school. Ilyas’ fears about joining public school are made worse by insecurities due to his inescapable, prepubescent mustache. Ilyas hatches a hilarious plan to return to his old school — but on the way learns, he must also accept himself. The film features Rizwan Manji and Hasan Minhaj.


We meet Demascus in a moment of great inner strife. He’s just turned 33 and he’s suffering from arrested grief after the death of his mother. His career, his love life (or lack thereof), his identity is all up for debate. While I’m not entirely sure of the plot, I do know it stars the great Janet Hubert and Martin Lawrence, and my dear Twitter friend Kirk Moore is the showrunner, so it’s definitely on my list!


Blindspotting Season 2

This Starz series is not to be missed! It stars Jasmine Cephas Jones, Benjamin Earl Turner, and Jaylen Barron, and is executive produced by Daveed Diggs. If that’s not enough for you to tune in, clearly you haven’t seen any of them on screen before and therefore this is now a must! Stream Season 1 on Starz before you jump in to Season 2, but know that it’s artistic cinematography alone is worth watching this!

Black Barbie: A Documentary

Love her or hate her, almost everyone has a Barbie story. Even if they don’t have a story, there’s a story as to why they don’t have a story. In this film, the story behind the first Black Barbie is told, because yes, she has a story too. And it all started with the filmmaker’s 83-year old aunt, Beulah Mae Mitchell and a seemingly simple question, “Why not make a Barbie that looks like me?”

What To Do At SXSW 2023

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves Tavern Experience

Gather at the Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves Tavern Experience in Austin, TX, during South by Southwest 2023. Taking place at The Highball at Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, attendees can enjoy a fluorescent “Dragon’s Brew” amidst the immersive wooden interior and of course, the antagonistic Gelatinous Cube. And yes I’m just going for the drinks.

Camp Yellowjackets

SHOWTIME® will host Camp Yellowjackets, a 3-day interactive experience that will celebrate the release of the second season of the Emmy® Nominated series, Yellowjackets. This multi-day event will take place during the first weekend of South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Conference and Festivals beginning Friday, March 10th through Sunday, March 12th and at the Fair Market in Austin, Texas. I won’t be going because of a schedule conflict, but it looks awesome.

Welcome to Prime, TX

Prime Video is putting down roots with the newly incorporated Prime, TX, at Hotel San Jose in Austin’s hotspot South Congress neighborhood. Just like Prime Video transports you to different worlds with its hit shows, Prime, TX is a portal to the Lone Star State of your dreams.


Enjoy craftier cocktails at “The Boys” XXXclusive Bar, southern hospitality from the American Country Music Awards, and harmonic vibes inside “Daisy Jones & the Six’s” recording studio, all set to some boot scootin’ boogie vibes from DJs Disko Cowboy, CRG, Kimmy K and more.

Come *grow* with the flow in “Harlem”, unleash your inner strength with “The Power”, and find your otherworldly side with “Carnival Row”. After you get a made-to-fade semi-permanent tattoo repping your favorite show, swing by Prime Denim Co. for a customized vintage stitch-shop experience. Finally, don’t forget to indulge at “The Summer I Turned Pretty” pie stand & cruise next door to Austin Motel for snacks & lotto prizes at the “Swarm” Mini Mart popup.


Prime Video’s new limited series “Swarm” is taking over the Austin Motel’s main lobby with an in-world convenience store pop-up, creating a sensory experience that illustrates the darkly indulgent tone of the series. Attendees of the pop-up activation will be able to immerse themselves in the world of “Swarm” with Dre’s getaway car photo moment complete with blood-stained seats, a wrapped dead body, and the ominous buzz of bees overhead. 

Upon entering the fluorescently lit and air-conditioned mini-mart, guests will receive custom cash to purchase their favorite snacks and refreshments off the shelves and stocked refrigerators, as well as exclusive, screen-printed t-shirts. All of Dre’s favorite junk food snacks and drinks with “Swarm” branded souvenir cups will be available for them to snag. While checking out, visitors can watch never-before-seen clips of the series on the surveillance monitors and will be given a lottery ticket for a chance to win various prizes, including a “Swarm” branded-bucket hat like Dre’s in the show.

Be sure to follow my Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Letterboxd accounts for photos, views, and reviews during SXSW 2023 (and after).

Continue Reading

Film Festival Coverage

Best Of The Fest: Top 10 Sundance 2023 Films — Magazine Dreams, Young. Wild. Free., Rye Lane, And More



sundance 2023 best films

If you followed my Sundance journey this year on Twitter (or TikTok), then you already know I covered the Sundance Film Festival this year from the snowy mountains of Utah! And I almost made it through my entire Sundance 2023 watch listWhich is a blessing, ’cause sis almost gave TF up after suffering through a few. But this year, I didn’t suffer as much. Most of the films I watched were good! Those that weren’t I let go of and stopped watching, to make room for others to capture my attention.  I know that’s not what all “critics” do, and it’s frowned upon for us to start a film and not finish it. But I don’t feel bad this time around.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have much time for relaxing these days. So I definitely don’t have time to waste. I need to be hooked almost immediately, or at least intrigued enough to feel like watching a film that starts off slow, is worth it. So after ranking all of my Sundance 2023 films on Letterboxd, from best to worst, I’m not shocked these films below made the list!

I am shocked that another documentary snuck its way into my top 5 again this year! But whatever, I guess I’m the kind of girl who watches documentaries and enjoys them now.

Anywho …

These were the films that I enjoyed the most. So if you’re looking to check out a few films that premiered at Sundance this year, these are the ones you HAVE to see! I’ll be recommending them all year long.


Top 10: Best Sundance 2023 Films

1. Magazine Dreams

Jonathan Majors appears in Magazine Dreams by Elijah Bynum, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Glen Wilson

Summary: Killian Maddox lives with his ailing veteran grandfather, obsessively working out between court-mandated therapy appointments and part-time shifts at a grocery store where he harbors a crush on a friendly cashier.

Though Killian’s struggles to read social cues and maintain control of his volatile temper, which amplifies his sense of disconnection amid a hostile world, nothing deters him from his fiercely protected dream of bodybuilding superstardom, not even the doctors who warn that he’s causing permanent damage to his body with his quest.

Thoughts: Y’all!!! First of all … this was one hell of a thirst trap! So I hope y’all make it through the movie without passing out cause the gurls gon’ be in a tizzy with this one. But it’s also a really amazing film! This may be my new fave mental health film. Like Jonathan Majors BODIED that role! (Pun intended.) I couldn’t even see Jonathan! I could only see his character, feel his character! “Magazine Dreams” is definitely heavy but it’s SO GOOD! And that ending? It’s insane!!! Shit almost took me out!! Definitely a must watch. But brace for impact, the guns can be a bit triggering.

Rating: 5/5

2. Young. Wild. Free.

sundance 2023 best films
A still from Young. Wild. Free. by Thembi Banks, an official selection of the NEXT section at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. | photo by Tommy Oliver.

Summary: High school senior Brandon is drowning in responsibilities when his world is turned upside down after being robbed at gunpoint by the girl of his dreams.

Thoughts: And aw man … I wish someone had told me “Young. Wild. Free.” would fck me up like this!!? As someone who worked with kids for about 10 years, I know a Brandon. And this shit hit way too close to home. I definitely cried real big baby tears in the bathroom after watching this, for all the kids I know who never got to live a normal childhood.

I was an emotional WRECK after this! But it’s such a fantastic movie! It’s such a great and creative look into what it’s like being a teen in the hood. And I’d say it’s close to the teen version of “Queen and Slim“, which I loved. Not as traumatic of course, but yeah.


Rating: 5/5

3. Little Richard: I Am Everything

Little Richard appears in Little Richard: I Am Everything by Lisa Cortes, an official selection of the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Summary: “Little Richard: I Am Everything” tells the story of the Black queer origins of rock n’ roll. It explodes the whitewashed canon of American pop music to reveal the innovator – the originator – Richard Penniman. Through a wealth of archive and performance that brings us into Richard’s complicated inner world, the film unspools the icon’s life story with all its switchbacks and contradictions.

Thoughts: This was an incredible way to start my day and kick off my festival movies. This was my first film of the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and I don’t think I could have picked a better film to start with! Docs aren’t my ministry but this was such an INCREDIBLE film! It’s definitely a must watch! I loved every second of this! (Minus his pain & conflictions.) I’m still blown away by how great this was. Black folks really do amazing work with documentaries man!! And if you grew up singing his songs, this is a great way to find out more about the icon.

Rating: 5/5

4. Aliens Abducted My Parents And Now I Feel Kinda Left Out

Emma Tremblay and Jacob Buster appear in Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Feel Kinda Left Out, an official selection of the Kids section at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | Photo by Steve Olpin.

Summary: Itsy is new in town and her life seems over until she meets her space-obsessed neighbor Calvin, who believes his parents were abducted by aliens. An aspiring journalist, Itsy decides to write an exposé on Calvin but ends up discovering much more.

Thoughts: The name may be incredibly long but this was really good! Such a heartfelt movie about a small town kid who just wants to find his parents. The twists at the end are superb. And while I gave it a 5 out of 5 score, my 10 yr old, who watched it with me says it’s a 10 out of 5.

Rating: 5/5


5. Radical

sundance 2023 best films radical
A still from Radical by Chris Zalla, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Summary: In a Mexican border town plagued by neglect, corruption, and violence, a frustrated teacher tries a radical new method to break through his students’ apathy and unlock their curiosity, their potential… and maybe even their genius. (Based on a true story.)

Thoughts: Now why would Eugenio Derbez make me wanna cry like this?! “Radical” is all about a teacher who empowers his kids to love learning by allowing them to not just be kids, but to learn how they learn best and that alone was enough to make me love this! But of course when you add in an inspiring performance by the wonderfully talented Eugenio Derbez, and convincing child actors … the story comes alive. And it’s an incredible story! One everyone should watch and remember. Especially those who run our schools. Stop trying to force kids into a box!

Rating: 4.5/5

6. Rye Lane

sundance 2023 best films rye lane
A still from Rye Lane by Luke Lorentzen, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Summary: Yas and Dom, two twenty-somethings both reeling from bad break-ups, connect over the course of an eventful day in South London – helping each other deal with their nightmare exes, and potentially restoring their faith in romance.

Thoughts: I’m so glad “Rye Lane” lived up to my expectations! It’s such a cute little rom com! And it reminds us that something beautiful can always bloom from something unfortunate. British flicks are and will always definitely be my jam, and this one is no different. “Rye Lane” is definitely worth a watch!

Rating: 4.5/5

7. A Thousand And One

Teyana Taylor and Aaron Kingsley appear in a still from A Thousand and One by A.V. Rockwell, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Focus Features

Summary: Struggling but unapologetically living on her own terms, Inez is moving from shelter to shelter in mid-1990s New York City. With her 6-year-old son Terry in foster care and unable to leave him again, she kidnaps him so they can build their life together. As the years go by, their family grows and Terry becomes a smart yet quiet teenager, but the secret that has defined their lives threatens to destroy the home they have so improbably built.

Thoughts: This was good. Slow, but good. I definitely didn’t see that ending coming! (And I’m still a tad confused by it.) But what surprised me the most was Josiah Cross’ performance. They need to put him in “All American. Just saying.


Rating: 4/5

8. Shortcomings

sundance 2023 best films shortcomings
A still from Shortcomings by Randall Park, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Summary: Ben Tanaka is a movie-theater owner who is grappling with the implications of race and culture on the dating scene. Ben lives with his girlfriend, Miko Hayashi, a politically active firebrand whose enthusiasms aren’t shared by her boyfriend; his best friend, Alice Kim, is a lesbian who wants him to pretend to be her boyfriend so her conservative family won’t learn about her true sexual identity.

Thoughts: This was super cute. I definitely laughed a bunch of times at the cheeky one liners. But outside of humor and the relationship commentary about POC idolizing whites vs whites fetishizing POC … it gets dull at times. I just wish it went a little deeper.

Rating: 4/5

9. Drift

A still from Drift by Anthony Chen, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.

Summary: Jacqueline, a young refugee, lands alone and penniless on a Greek island where she tries to survive, then to cope with her past. While gathering her strength, she begins a friendship with a rootless tour guide and together they find the resilience to forge ahead.

Thoughts: I’m not ashamed to say “Drift” shocked me something terrible! I did not think I was gonna like this. It’s not a film I’d watch in theaters, but it’s definitely a story worth watching. It’s a reminder that sometimes people leave their homes because they HAVE to, not because they want too.

Rating: 4/5


10. We Were Meant To

A still from We Were Meant To by Tari Wariebi, an official selection of the U.S. Shorts program at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Summary: In a world where Black men have wings and their first flight is a rite of passage, Akil must defy fears, insecurities, and societal barriers while discovering his perfect launch into manhood.

Thoughts: This was such a dope concept and story. I only wish they had kept it positive and left it to shine on the “Black Boy Joy” waters it could have thrived on instead of perpetuating the story that Black boys “cant”. I didn’t need this one to be a political statement. Especially since the world reminds us enough that Black men aren’t allowed to just be. But outside of that, it was a good short film.

Rating: 4/5

And there you have it folks! My top 10 films of Sundance 2023, the BEST of the fest. If you come across these films this year, don’t sleep on them! And if you’re looking for full reviews, then hang on there partna! Those are coming up next. So bookmark this site and check back in a few days to start reading what I really thought about these Sundance 2023 films.


Continue Reading



Sharing is Caring

Help spread the word. You're awesome for doing it!