Black Sci-Fi Creating The Most Compelling Stories on the Big Screen
May 24, 2022
In the wake of the success of Black Panther, Watchmen, and Lovecraft Country, it seems Hollywood is finally accepting that there is a demand for Sci-Fi created for and by people of color. Luckily, there are plenty of up-and-coming filmmakers ready to deliver the content so many of us have been waiting for.
The three listed below have already shown incredible promise with their recent work, but their next projects are sure to change the trajectory of their career.
In 2019, Bristol partnered with his mentor Spike Lee to develop his NYU student thesis, a 17-minute short that had already been screened at 35 film festivals. They brought See You Yesterday to Netflix in 2019. The film tells the story of two high school students who stumble across the secret to time travel while working on a high school science project. When one of the kids, C.J., loses her older brother to police brutality, she sets out to save his life using her invention. “I am an artist who loves to make personal sci-fi movies about Black characters that are laced with social, political commentary and interpersonal wisdom,” Bristol told Deadline. He’s already lined up two more Netflix projects with a sci-fi edge: Breathe, in which a mother-daughter duo is forced to fight for their lives in a near-future where the air is at a premium; and Gordon Hemingway & The Realm of Cthulhu, an H.P. Lovecraft-esque period piece in which the titular character, an American gunslinger, partners with Princess Zenebé of Ethiopia to combat an unspeakable evil.
While his filmography contains quite a bit of reality and documentary titles, what most recently catapulted Michael into the spotlight was his short film The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be. The project was one of five films released as part of Film4’s anthology Foresight, which set out to explore what the future might look like from the perspective of Black and Brown creatives. Michael delivered a dystopian reimagining of an Earth abandoned by the majority of its inhabitants due to climate change. Making the film even eerier, the project features no dialogue, with the only sounds filling the void being blaring alarms and the two characters’ reactions to what’s happening around him. Up next, Michael serves as Assistant Director for the Prime Video adaptation of Anansi Boys, written by American Gods author Neil Gaiman, but neither a sequel nor a spin-off.
She’s since worked on Lena Waite’s dramedy Twenties and ABC’s heavy historical mini-series Women of the Movement. But what first made Malakai one to watch in the film world was her 2019 short SOULS. The film is a play on light, life, and transcendence, centered around a little girl as she experiences her grandmother’s transition into the afterworld. Malakai is currently working on a film adaptation of The Near Witch, a 2019 novel that incorporates the supernatural into the mysterious kidnapping of several children, told through a local girl’s eyes. BET reports Black-ish alum Marcus Scribner is tied to the project.
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