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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).


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.

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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

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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.


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Film Festival Coverage

7 Sundance 2023 Films (Featuring Black Talent) That You Need To Watch This Year

There’s a LOT to watch this year at the Sundance Film Festival, but these 7 are probably going to be the Black films that standout the most. So make sure you add them to your watch list ASAP.



sundance 2023 black films to watch
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

Last year, I covered the Sundance Film Festival from the comfort of my home … okay, well actually, from the comfort of a hotel! And yes, it was as peaceful as it sounds. But this year? Chaos! I’m a freakin’ MESS y’all. And that’s probably because I’ll be covering the festival in person this year! Yup, I’ll be screaming my love for each film I watch from the very tippy top of Utah’s snowy mountains this year. As if.

I’m already super annoyed that there’s actually snow on the ground there, when there hasn’t been a single snow flake here in NYC all winter so far. Not that global warming is a good thing or whatever.

Yet, despite my lack of interest for Utah’s weather at the momento, I am super excited to visit Salt Lake City for the very first time, and to finally meet a ton of folks that I’ve been talking to over the last few years. But you know what? Knowing that I’ll be covering all the BLACK films at Sundance 2023 for a THIRD year in a row … this time I’ll be there in person, covering the ones you’ll be dying to watch this year, is what REALLY makes me happy!

Last year, some of my favorite films premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, so I can’t wait to see what becomes a hit this year. Anywho, on to what you really came here for …

Here Are 7 Sundance 2023 Films (Featuring Black Talent) To Get Excited About This Year

1. All Dirt Roads Taste Of Salt

sundance 2023 black films
A still from All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt by Raven Jackson, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Jaclyn Martinez

Starring our faves — Sheila Atim (The Woman King) and Moses Ingram (Obi Wan Kenobi), Sundance raves that Raven Jackson’s “striking debut is an assured vision, unafraid to immerse us in moments of grief and longing, or within the thickness of things left unsaid”.

With, “All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt” … we get a taste of the life of Mack, a Black woman in Mississippi. Winding through the anticipation, love, and heartbreak she experiences from childhood to adulthood, the expressionist journey is an ode to connection — with loved ones and with place. And if you know me, you know ion’ care about none of that! I’m just here for the wild ride Sheila and Moses are gonna take us on, because they give POWERFUL performances every time they’re on screen!


Apparently the film has also already been acquired by A24. So for those of us following along on A24’s insane ride of a roster — with them releasing films like “Everything Everywhere All At Once” and “Zola”, this means “All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt” is surely in good hands, and may turn out to be an audience favorite.

2. Magazine Dreams

sundance 2023 black films
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

Listen, Jonathan Majors is in this. Do I really need to say more?

For those of you rolling your eyes at me, and screaming “do your job and tell us what the damn film is actually about sis” … fine. Magazine Dreams, is about an amateur bodybuilder who struggles to find human connection as his relentless drive for recognition pushes him to the brink. Killian Maddox lives with his ailing veteran grandfather, and obsessively works out between court-mandated therapy appointments and his 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 amplify 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.  

The film also stars Taylour Paige (Zola), who I’m hoping isn’t his love interest, but probably is? Eh, we’ll see! This is one of my most anticipated watches though, so I’m excited. And hopefully I run into Mr. Majors during Sundance? One can only dream.

3. Young. Wild. Free.

sundance 2023 black 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.

Featuring a star studded cast that includes Sierra Capri (On My Block), Algee Smith (The New Edition Story), Sanaa Lathan (Love and Basketball) and Mike Epps (Meet the Blacks), “Young. Wild. Free.” is Emmy-nominated (Only Murders in the Building) writer-director Thembi Banks’ feature debut, following her short film “Baldwin Beauty” that premiered during the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.

The story follows Algee Smith, as Brandon, a struggling teen in school, caring for his two younger siblings, and having just been let go from his job, Brandon often uses his art as an escape from the confines of his subdued day-to-day life. Enter Cassidy (played by Sierra Capri), a bedazzled bad girl dripping in confidence, freedom, and danger. Lured in by her whimsy, Brandon teams up with Cassidy, seamlessly slipping into the role of Clyde to her Bonnie as they make their way down an increasingly perilous path.


I’m not saying this is gonna take the world by storm like “Queen and Slim” did a few years ago … but um, it’s giving — I can’t WAIT to see how this ish plays out because this sounds hella interesting. Pretty sure I read somewhere that she robs him? So yeah …

4. 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

While I’m not overly excited about the potential path “A Thousand And One” is planning on taking us down. I am a bit excited to see Teyana Taylor (Coming 2 America) on screen again.

Directed by Sundance alum A.V. Rockwell, “A Thousand and One” is set to take us on a journey, one that I’m sure many can possibly relate to. Aside from the kidnapping I suppose?

Alongside Teyana, Will Catlett (Charm City Kings, Black Boy Joy) — another one of my faves, also stars in this dramatic competition feature film. Convinced it’s one last, necessary crime on the path to redemption, unapologetic and free-spirited Inez kidnaps 6-year-old Terry from the foster care system. Holding on to their secret and each other, mother and son set out to reclaim their sense of home, identity, and stability in New York City.

5. 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

I’m not one for documentaries, but every now and then someone releases a doc that intrigues me. Last year it was the Cosby and Kanye docs, the year before that it was “Summer of Soul” and now this year it’s Little Richard.

According to Sundance, “director Lisa Cortés’ eye-opening documentary “Little Richard: I Am Everything” explodes the whitewashed canon of American pop music and shines a clarifying light on the Black, queer origins of rock ’n’ roll, and establishes the genre’s big bang: Richard Wayne Penniman.”

So I look forward to learning all about the icon I grew up hearing so much about.


6. Landscape With Invisible Hand

A still from Landscape With invisible Hand by Cory Finley, an official selection of the Premiers program at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute

In “Landscape with Invisible Hand”, Adam is a teenage artist coming of age in the aftermath of an alien takeover. The Vuvv, a species of hyper-intelligent extraterrestrials, brought wondrous technology to Earth, but only the wealthiest can afford it. The rest of humanity, their livelihoods now obsolete, have to scrape together money in the tourism industry.

Writer-director Cory Finley returns to Park City with a sci-fi trip flick that stars Asante Blackk (“When They See Us”, “This Is Us”), Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip), and William Jackson Harper (The Good Place). I will be honest here though — Tiffany being apart of this cast, definitely lets me know how this fill will go. I tend to not like the films she’s in, especially when she’s casted for her comedy chops, but I’ll definitely be giving this a shot to see if she shocks me.

7. Rye Lane

sundance 2023 black films
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

In “Rye Lane”, Dom and Yas’ paths collide at the least opportune time: when Dom (David Jonsson) is ugly-crying in a toilet stall, steeling himself for an awkward meal with his ex, who cheated on him with his best friend. Nursing her own breakup wounds, freewheeling Yas decides to jump headfirst into the fray to lessen the sting as Dom’s date. What follows is a day of impulsive and joyous mayhem, as these two 20-something Londoners roam Peckham through karaoke bars and playgrounds, all the while inching toward the possibility of opening their hearts again.

And if I’ve learned anything over the last few years, it’s that I love me a British film, so I can’t wait to see what director Raine Allen-Miller has in store for us with this romantic comedy that celebrates meeting the right person at the wrong time. And if it’s already been acquired by Searchlight Pictures … there’s definitely hope here. (Okay, maybe that’s not all the way true, but you get my point.)

sundance 2023 black films

But yeah, that’s my list of Black films you have to watch at Sundance 2023 this year.

Last year’s list (and the year before that) was super duper long, but I’m no longer interested in being the crazy person that tells you to watch ALL the things. Cause I don’t even have the dang gon’ time to watch ALL the things, so let’s not pretend that we can do it all this year.

This year, I’m sharing all the things that excite me, or annoy the f*ck out of me, no in between, mediocre mumbo jumbo crap. Let someone else tell you about the things that aren’t even worth mentioning … *cough* like Netflix’s Kaleidoscope series. I’m just saying. Get somebody else to do it! Otherwise, happy Sundancing! Let me know what’s on YOUR watch list, and if you’ll be watching any of the films above.

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