Film / TV

THREE SUNDANCE 2021 FIILMS TO GET HYPE ABOUT

February 5, 2021

We continue to count on movies as a beacon of light as we patiently traverse this global pandemic. Almost a year into lockdown, many of us have already watched the films that busier iterations of life never gave us the chance to get to. With ample time at home and a dwindling social life, we need new film recommendations now more than ever. 

Well film lovers, when we most needed it, Sundance has arrived. Over the past week and weekend, Sundance 2021 took place and as usual it was a big success. The lineup of films this year celebrated creative storytelling by filmmakers from all different walks of life. Congratulations to the many talented Black creators who showed up and out at this year’s festival.

Here are three of our top Sundance Selects that you can look forward to.

Ailey

Dance lovers and folks who dare to dream, this is the documentary for you. Ailey follows the life and accomplishments of dance pioneer and choreographer extraordinaire Alvin Ailey. The film is a definite pandemic watch for anybody dealing with imposter syndrome or looking for the motivation to pursue what is natural to them. Get out of your head and into your body!

Ailey is of course remembered for his vast contribution to dance, but this documentary spotlights him equally as a poet. You will finish this film ridding yourself of any temptation to box or label your ambitions or your existence. It will leave you with a sense that the pursuit of one’s passion requires determination and strict discipline. If you are looking for Black excellence then you have found it in Ailey. 

Passing

Bookworms, you may have read Nella Larson’s Passing at one point or another, or maybe you plan to in the future. Lucky us! The novel has been adapted by director Rebecca Hall in her outstanding feature directorial debut. The black and white film explores the consequences of lying to oneself and others as a means of protecting a carefully constructed reality. 

Why is this film relevant today? For 21st century Black women, it can be wrinkle inducing to witness the newfound celebration of our features on white women. This film helps contextualize exactly why Black-fishing is a crime against Black women and our history although it has become extremely mainstream with celebrities like the Kardashians, Ariana Grande, Hilaria Baldwin, and more participating.

In a world where white women constantly pass as Black or brown for aesthetic, it is crucial to remember that throughout history many light skinned Black people made painful privileged decisions to hide their race as a means of survival or as a product of self hate. 

Watch the film for the message, stay for Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga’s incredible chemistry, and leave with a completely eradicated notion of binaries of any kind. 

Summer Of Soul

Now, you know we can’t resist a music film. We also can’t resist Ahmir “Quest Love” Thompson. Apparently, neither can Sundance as they have already awarded his filmmaking debut with the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary. 

The documentary is about the Harlem Cultural Festival which took place in 1969, the same day as Woodstock. It shows perseverance and joy after years of struggle, outlining how the festival was a beacon of hope and community in 1969 – the end of a decade in which Black people were close to hopeless after losing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, John. President John F.  Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, and many activists. 

The film is a very encouraging watch as we navigate some of our hardest times as a society. It gives hope for the decade ahead and reminds us that music, art and community are healers that see us through times like the one we find ourselves in. When times are overwhelmingly low, we, the people always persevere. 

If that didn’t sell ya, watch for never before seen performances by legends like Nina Simone, Mahalia Jackson, Mavis Staples, Stevie Wonder and more!

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