"Tyrel, nice to meet you man," someone remarks in the opening minutes of Tyrel, the latest from Sundance Film Festival mainstay Sebastian Silva. "Oh, it's actually Tyler, but..." replies Jason Mitchell's character, doing his best to sidestep the moment. It's an otherwise innocuous interaction that also somehow feels portentous. And indeed, with his trademark penchant for meaningful awkwardness, Silva slyly signals where this is going: a finely tuned, expertly subtle exploration into the ways racial division emerges from small, mindless moments.
Tyler is the only black man on a guys trip to the Catskills, and while that's an unambiguous non-issue among the friends, there remains a looming threat in even the most trivial gestures and repartee. You won't find the typical overt racism on display here, but there is an obliviousness that leaves a foul taste and looks like old prejudices dressed in new masks. As the liquor begins to flow throughout the weekend, an obvious discomfort has Tyler loitering on the edges of this new friend group. With his paranoia growing, we're left right there alongside him to unpack it all.
Check out all of the Sundance-supported films coming to theaters and digital platforms this month.