A film still from “Whose Streets?”
Nate von Zumwalt
In a month dedicated to observing the achievements of black Americans, we are witnessing the emergence and successes of Sundance alum Ryan Coogler’s new film Black Panther. The Marvel film recorded the second-biggest four-day opener of all time at the domestic box office with $242 million, while grossing $427 million worldwide.
The film marks an indelible moment for an industry that fails to fully reflect on screen the vivid diversity that exists off of it. And in a Hollywood climate that in recent years has seen early strides in combating a lack of diversity among creators, Black Panther marks a seminal moment that marries authentic, diverse filmmaking with a commercially viable box office hit.
To further celebrate the Sundance-supported storytellers who represent the African diaspora this Black History Month, we’re spotlighting six artists to watch below.
1. Sabaah Folayan
Whose Streets? (2017 Sundance Film Festival)
“I have felt my way through the filmmaking process, propelled by the support of peers and mentors, following instincts with no certain outcome, and believing disciplined impulsiveness coupled with right intentions would amount to something good and true.”
2. Reinaldo Marcus Green
Monsters and Men (2017 Directors Lab; 2018 Sundance Film Festival), Stop (2015 Sundance Film Festival)
On shifting POVs in Monsters and Men: “We’re all different –– we live our individual lives. But we’re actually much more alike than we think we are.”
3. Dominique Morisseau
Skeleton Crew (2014 Theatre Lab)
“I feel like I have a responsibility as a storyteller to find the truth of everything that comes to me. So when an idea comes to me, my responsibility is to explore it as fully as I can. My responsibility is to create full dimensions in the people that I’m writing about.”
An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (2012 Sundance Film Festival), Swimming in Your Skin Again (2016 Sundance Film Festival), 18 Black Girls / Boys Ages 1-18 Who Have Arrived at the Singularity and Are Thus Spiritual Machines: $X in an Edition of $97 Quadrillion (2017 Sundance Film Festival)
“The world has been starved for so long of crazy, weird, diverse, interesting, magical images of Blackness. We’re trained to see it as an anomaly, or something that you don’t’ necessarily need. We don’t’ have the appetite for it. Somehow we have to figure out strategies to let people know this is coming, like, every month. Forever.”
Sorry to Bother You (2016 Screenwriters and Directors Labs; 2018 Sundance Film Festival)
“I like to tell stories about folks in jobs that we take for granted, and about how those worlds have the same amount of drama and the same amount of adventure as other worlds that we glamorize in film.”
Imperial Dreams (2011 January Screenwriters Lab; 2014 Sundance Film Festival)
“There are so many different ways to share our expression of what we’ve come from. I think that the multitude of voices is what makes that special.”