Connect with us

Film Festival Coverage

20+ Black Films You Need To Add To Your Sundance 2022 Watch List ASAP

Published

on

sundance 2022 black films to watch

While I’m still a tad bit sad that I won’t be flying out to Utah this week to watch a ton of (what I’m expecting to be) awesome films at Sundance 2022. (Because you know Covid.)

I am excited to cover the Sundance Film Festival again this year.

Last year, I covered the Sundance film festival from the comfort of my bed (and couch), so I can’t wait to do it all over again. With one difference — I’m checking my ass into a hotel this time! (For multiple reasons.)

However, the thought of being able to cover Sundance in absolute peace this year, makes my heart smile.

But knowing that I’ll be covering all the BLACK films at Sundance 2022 for a second year in a row, the ones you’ll be dying to watch this year, is what really makes me happy!

Advertisement

Last year, some of your favorites premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, including Judas and the Black Messiah, Summer of Soul, and Passing. So I can’t wait to see what becomes a hit this year.

But until then, here are …

20+ Black Sundance 2022 Films To Watch

US DRAMATIC COMPETITION

892

sundance 2022 films to watch

Living in a cheap motel in Atlanta and separated from his wife and child, former U.S. Marine veteran Brian Easley is desperate. Driven to the brink by forces beyond his control, the soft-spoken, kind man decides to rob a bank and hold hostages with a bomb.

As police, media, and family members descend on the bank and Brian, it becomes clear he’s not after stealing money — he wants to tell his story and have what is rightfully his, even if it costs him his life. 

In her debut feature, director Abi Damaris Corbin hauntingly blends together the dramatic tension of a hostage negotiation standoff with the intimate emotional world of one life derailed by bureaucracy and a lack of resources.

Based on a true story, 892 showcases powerful performances by John Boyega, the late Michael K. Williams in his final screen role, and others that remind us of the social responsibility we have to our soldiers, colleagues, and families, and to strangers as well.

Advertisement

ALICE

sundance 2022 films to watch
Keke Palmer and Common appear in Alice by Krystin Ver Linden, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute Eliza Morse. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

Alice (Keke Palmer) 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 (Common), Alice uncovers the lies that have kept her enslaved and the promise of Black liberation.

In her debut feature, writer-director Krystin Ver Linden spins a modern liberation fable that is equal parts earthy Southern Gothic and soulful Blaxploitation.

Inspired by true accounts of Black Americans who were kept in peonage for more than 100 years after the end of slavery, Alice is an audacious mix of grim historical fact and exceptional fiction.

Moving from a purgatorial plantation overgrown with Spanish moss to the lively landscape of urban Savannah, Ver Linden traces Alice’s breathless journey down the rabbit hole and into the turbulent wonderland of the post–Civil Rights South.

Advertisement

EMERGENCY

EMERGENCY

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.

Two-time Sundance alum Carey Williams (R#J, 2021) makes his U.S. Dramatic Competition debut with Emergency, the darkly comedic and wildly hard-hitting feature version of his short by the same name (a Special Jury Award winner in 2018).

Bringing KD Dávila’s sharp and layered writing to life through an incredibly talented breakout cast, Williams hazes us with a timely and biting satire in which racial dynamics unmask a world so absurd that it could only be real. 

MASTER

sundance 2022 films to watch
Regina Hall appears in Master by Mariama Diallo, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

At an elite New England university built on the site of a Salem-era gallows hill, three women strive to find their place.

Gail Bishop (Regina Hall), just instated as “Master,” a dean of students, discovers what lies behind the school’s immaculate facade; first-year student Jasmine Moore (Zoe Renee) confronts a new home that is cold and unwelcoming; and literature professor Liv Beckman (Amber Gray) collides with colleagues who question her right to belong.

Navigating politics and privilege, they encounter increasingly terrifying manifestations of the school’s haunted past… and present.

Advertisement

Writer-director Mariama Diallo’s first feature is an ingenious blend of horror, drama, psychological thriller, and social critique. Through a deeply unnerving aesthetic,

Master demonstrates the expressive power of genre storytelling, delivering a visceral and emotional reflection on racism and white supremacy. What begins as a search for belonging becomes a chilling struggle for survival, and Diallo shrewdly reframes a basic horror trope — escaping an evil force — asking what escape is possible for communities of color confronting a racial terror that is everywhere. 

NANNY

Undocumented immigrant Aisha lands a job nannying for the daughter of a wealthy Manhattan couple. While she easily wins the affection of young Rose, she also finds herself caught up in the rocky marriage between the girl’s controlling mom and woke photojournalist dad.

Haunted by the absence of the young son she left behind in Senegal, Aisha hopes her precarious job will allow her to bring him into the U.S. and the life she has carefully pieced together. Just as his arrival finally feels imminent, a supernatural presence begins to invade both her dreams and her reality.

As envisioned by writer-director Nikyatu Jusu and brilliantly embodied by actor Anna Diop, Aisha is a dynamic, fascinating protagonist.

She displays tremendous strength in enduring challenging circumstances, but must reckon with both her own rage and frustration and a jarring, ominous intrusion entering her already fraught life. Jusu elegantly weaves in supernatural entities derived from West African folklore, spinning Nanny into a singular genre all its own, with horrors specifically drawn from Aisha’s life and legacy.

Advertisement

WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION

MARTE UM (MARS ONE)

Camilla Souza and Cícero Lucas appear in Mars One (Marte Um) by Gabriel Martins, an official selection of the World Cinema: Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Leonardo Feliciano. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

The Martins family are optimistic dreamers, quietly leading their lives in the margins of a major Brazilian city following the disappointing inauguration of a far-right extremist president.

A lower-middle-class Black family, they feel the strain of their new reality as the political dust settles. Tércia, the mother, reinterprets her world after an unexpected encounter leaves her wondering if she’s cursed.

Her husband, Wellington, puts all of his hopes into the soccer career of their son, Deivinho, who reluctantly follows his father’s ambitions despite secretly aspiring to study astrophysics and colonize Mars. Meanwhile, their older daughter, Eunice, falls in love with a free-spirited young woman and ponders whether it’s time to leave home.

Writer-director Gabriel Martins weaves a tender and uplifting tapestry of a Brazilian family whose affection for each other is palpable in every frame, mining his delightful cast for authentic performances brimming with humor and charm. Delicately balancing its characters as they find themselves and their country at a crossroads, Marte Um (Mars One) invites us to dream beyond the stars.


PREMIERES

GOD’S COUNTRY

Thandiwe Newton appears in God’s Country by Julian Higgins, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

Sandra (Thandiwe Newton) is very tired. It’s been years of trying (and failing) to please her recently deceased mother, while also navigating the challenging politics and power dynamics at the college where she teaches.

And then there is the racism, sexism, and toxic masculinity she encounters wherever she goes. But it’s a confrontation with two hunters trespassing on her property that ultimately tests Sandra’s self-restraint, pushing her grief and mounting anger to their limits.

God’s Country examines one woman’s grieving process and determination to be taken seriously amid her refusal to surrender to the confines of society. 

Advertisement

Newton shines as Sandra in director Julian Higgins’s impressive feature debut. The script, co-written by Higgins and Shaye Ogbonna, offers Newton the opportunity to create a character who is masterfully understated, yet complex and believable.

Newton occupies almost every frame of the film; close-ups of her calm, grief-stricken face reveal the despair and tension of a crumbling human spirit. She remains cool and composed, but no longer willing to yield.

HONK FOR JESUS. SAVE YOUR SOUL.

sundance 2022 films to watch

As the proud first lady of a Southern Baptist megachurch, Trinitie Childs carries immense responsibility on her shoulders.

Her church, Wander To Greater Paths, once served a congregation in the tens of thousands, but after a scandal involving her husband, Pastor Lee-Curtis Childs, forced the church to close temporarily, Trinitie is struggling to manage the aftermath.

Now Trinitie and Lee-Curtis must rebuild their congregation and reconcile their faith by all means necessary to make the biggest comeback that commodified religion has ever seen.

Filmmaking power duo the Ebo Twins (writer-director Adamma Ebo, producer Adanne Ebo) make their feature film debut in this adaptation of their previous short film of the same name.

Advertisement

Partially shot in faux-documentary style, this lively satire on for-profit religion explores both the on-camera desperation in image rebranding and the hard truths that fester behind the scenes.

The humor is big and biting in both writing and performance, reaching lofty heights with Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown in lead roles.

JEEN-YUHS: A KANYE TRILOGY

sundance 2022 films to watch
jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy. Kanye West in jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy. Cr. Netflix © 2022

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. You think you know Kanye West, but you really don’t. 

You can’t manufacture a project like jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy; it takes decades of vision, commitment, prayers, and perspective to produce. It seems providential that Coodie & Chike should be the ones to make the definitive film about West’s career thus far, as they were the filmmakers who introduced him to the masses with their documentary music video for “Through the Wire.”

Advertisement

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.

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT COSBY

sundance 2022 films to watch
Finn Wolfhard and Julianne Moore appear in When You Finish Saving the World by Jesse Eisenberg, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Beth Garrabrant. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

During his nearly 50 years in show business, Bill Cosby became one of the most recognizable Black celebrities in America.

With a career that included an astronomical rise on television in the mid-1960s; work in children’s programming and education; legendary stand-up performances and albums; and an epoch-defining hit sitcom, The Cosby Show, Cosby was a model of Black excellence for millions of Americans.

But now, thanks to the brave and painful testimonies of dozens of women, we know there was a sinister reality to the man once extolled as “America’s Dad.”

Over the course of four gripping episodes that feature the voices of people closely connected to Cosby’s life on-screen and off, including several survivors, director W. Kamau Bell digs into who Cosby was and what his work and actions say about America, then and now.

We Need To Talk About Cosby is a powerful and timely reckoning destined to be widely discussed for how it urges audiences to reconsider not only what they know about Cosby but also about the culture that produced and celebrated him. 

Advertisement

SPOTLIGHT

NEPTUNE FROST

Cheryl Isheja appears in Neptune Frost by Anisia Uzeyman and Saul Williams, an official selection of the Spotlight section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

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.

If today’s world is fueled by technology, obsessed with the future, and articulated by a language that erases the power of Black people, then this poetic masterpiece of Afrofuturism invents a language that is vibrant and capacious enough to tell the complex story of how African miners digging for the rare earth minerals make up the digital network we currently depend on.

Neptune Frost is the stunning, explosively inventive first collaborative feature by Anisia Uzeyman and slam poet Saul Williams (who made his Sundance debut appearing in 1998’s Slam) 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”).  


SHORT FILM PROGRAM

ALONE

A still from Alone by Garrett Bradley, an official selection of the From the Collection section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

An investigation into the layers of mass incarceration and its shaping of the modern Black American family, seen through the eyes of a single mother in New Orleans, Louisiana.

BONESHAKER

Quvenzhané Wallis appears in Boneshaker by Frances Bodomo, an official selection of the From the Collection section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Joshua James Richards. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

Lost in America, an African family travels to a Louisiana church to find a cure for its problem child.

DON’T GO TELLIN’ YOUR MOMMA

sundance 2022 films to watch
A still from Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma by Topaz Jones and rubberband., an official selection of the From the Collection section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

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

F^¢K ‘€M R!GHT B@¢K

sundance 2022 films to watch

A queer, Black, aspiring Baltimore rapper must outwit his vengeful day-job boss in order to avoid getting fired after accidentally eating an edible.

FE26

A still from Fe26 by Kevin Everson, an official selection of the From the Collection section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

Two gentlemen make a living hustling metal in Cleveland, Ohio.

HALLELUJAH

In Compton, California, two brothers stuck in arrested development have to figure out how to handle their annoying, fried-chicken-hating, bookworm nephew, as he attempts to hang himself with a garden hose.

PRAYERS FOR SWEET WATERS

Stories intersect across vivid realities and dreamscapes to submerge us into the worlds of three transgender sex workers living in Cape Town, South Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic.

PRECIOUS HAIR & BEAUTY

sundance 2022 films to watch

An ode to the mundanity and madness of the high street, told through the window of an African hair salon.

SHORT TERM 12

A still from Short Term 12 by Destin Daniel Cretton, an official selection of the From the Collection section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

A film about kids and the grown-ups who hit them.

SUB ELEVEN SECONDS

sundance 2022 films to watch

A rumination on time, loss, and hope, Sub Eleven Seconds is a poetic imagining of the quest of Sha’Carri Richardson — a young track and field athlete — to achieve her dream of qualifying for the Olympic Games.

YOU GO GIRL!

Tiffany Mann appears in You Go Girl! by Shariffa Ali, an official selection of the Shorts Program at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Tyler Maddox. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

Audrey, a New York City comedian who can make a joke of any situation, faces a staggering challenge in the beautiful mountains of Oregon. Can this city woman overcome her fears and rise?


KIDS

SUMMERING

sundance 2022 films to watch

It’s the waning days of summer for four friends Dina, Lola, Daisy, and Mari, who will soon be going their separate ways when they all start middle school. While planning how to spend their last weekend together, they stumble across a mystery that takes them on a life-changing adventure.

Using investigation techniques learned from watching TV shows, the friends make a series of discoveries that are as much about solving the mystery as they are about learning the hard truths of growing up. 

Director James Ponsoldt (Smashed, 2012, and The Spectacular Now, 2013) returns to the Sundance Film Festival with a film for every generation. Anchored by engaging performances from its youthful cast and a strong script from Ponsoldt and co-writer Benjamin Percy, Summering is a refreshing rarity when compared to the familiar animated and special effects-driven movies usually directed towards young audiences today.

Viewer Advisory: This film contains mentions of suicide, a dead body, and some scenes that may be frightening for younger viewers. Recommended for ages 10+.

Also, note that this isn’t a Black film, but I couldn’t ignore the fact that our little sis Madalen Mills (who starred in Netflix’s Jingle Jangle film) is in this.

Advertisement

COLLECTION

JUST ANOTHER GIRL ON THE I.R.T.

sundance 2022 films to watch

Chantal has plans. She’s going places. She’s on track to graduate early, go to college, become a doctor, and get out of the Brooklyn projects where she’s grown up.

Life for Chantal swirls with teenage emotions — she is brash, bold, self-possessed, and irrepressibly spirited, traits that inevitably clash with the world around her.

Whether it’s her feisty resistance to the whiteness of her educational curriculum or her confrontations with the wealthy white patrons of the upscale gourmet food store where she works, her complexity and energetic sense of purpose are balanced by a hazy self-awareness of adolescence.

Part of an exciting wave of young Black filmmakers whose work reshaped and redefined indie film in the early ’90s, Leslie Harris was one of the few Black women making films from her own perspective, a rarity even in independent cinema of the era.


Before you add these Sundance 2022 films to your watch list …

Do understand that … while I am a bit annoyed at how triggering most of these Sundance 2022 films seem, I am going to give them a watch before I judge them.

Advertisement

So if you wanna wait until I drop reviews before checking these out, I completely understand.

But if you’re already excited to check these out, feel free to visit the Sundance website and grab a ticket or two, so we can watch these together.

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.

Advertisement
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.)

Published

on

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!

Advertisement

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?

Advertisement

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?

Abso-f*cking-lutely!

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

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Film Festival Coverage

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

Published

on

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

Swarm

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.

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

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

“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.

Mustache

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.

Demascus

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!

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

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.

SWARM MINI MART

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).

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Film Festival Coverage

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

Published

on

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.

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

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

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

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

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Popular

shares

Sharing is Caring

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