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Your Guide to The Sundance Film Festival

LOTUS ENTERTAINMENT

Filmmakers, industry leaders and brokers, audiences and fans are sure to be buzzing about the offerings that tend to lean on the riskier side of the movie industry. And in a year where the Oscars are accused of having very little flavor, risky is good.

“Injustice is such a constant all around me that I don't really ever look to the cause célèbre of the moment for inspiration,” says featured filmmaker Shaka King of the lack of diversity evident in the recent Academy Award nominations. “I remember watching an interview with Cornel West about Richard Pryor where he said that Richard Pryor for all his hang ups and addictions was the free-est Black man of all time. As an artist that's all I'm trying to do/be.”

As the Sundance Film Festival kicks off its 30th year of premiering independent cinema and launching careers, we bring you our snapshot of artists to watch.

'Dope' premieres at the Sundance Film Festival on January 24. Courtesy of Sundance Institute

SHORTS

Mulignans

Shaka King (writer/director)

Filmmaker Shaka King quotes the Urban Dictionary definition of 'mulignan,' (pronounced moo-lin-yan), as “Italian-American slang for a black man. Derived from the Italian dialect word for eggplant.”

King says the short film "Mulignans" is “a racial experiment, an experiment on you, the viewer.” He says his experiment will succeed if he achieves in placing the audience in total discomfort with racial humor in between laughs.

Stop

Reinaldo Marcus Green (writer/director)

A young man's livelihood is put to the test when he is stopped by the police on his way home.

NARRATIVES

Z for Zachariah

Craig Zobel (director)

Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, this end-of-the-world drama is the tale of a young woman who believes she is the last human on Earth. She meets a dying scientist searching for survivors. When another male survivor appears, the two men compete for her affection.

Cronies

Michael Larnell (writer/director)

Filmed in St. Louis, Missouri, 22-year-old Louis does not know whether his childhood friendship with Jack will last beyond today.

Dope

Rick Famuyiwa (writer/director)

A coming-of-age story of a high school geek with a fond appreciation for '90s hip-hop who takes a detour while in pursuit of Harvard as a way out of the ‘Wood. A$AP Rocky makes his big-screen debut.

Girlhood

Céline Sciamma (writer/director)

From France, “Girlhood” is the story of 16-year-old Marieme as she seeks her independence while navigating her friendship with a gang of girls in a low-income suburb on the outskirts of Paris.

Lila and Eve

Charles Stone III (director)

Academy Award-nominee Viola Davis (Lila) and Golden Globe-nominee Jennifer Lopez (Eve) pursue justice their way when their children are killed by violence.

Nasty Baby

Sebastian Silva (writer/director)

Writer-director-actor Sebastian Silva stars as Brooklyn artist Freddy, who decides with his boyfriend, Mo, to recruit their best friend, Polly (Kristen Wiig), to help them have a baby.

DOCUMENTARY

'What Happened, Miss Simone?' premiered at Sundance Film Festival January 22. Herb Snitzer/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

What Happened, Ms. Simone?

Liz Garbus (director)

An intimate portrait of the classically trained jazz icon, Nina Simone, whose unmistakable sound provided a soundtrack for the Civil Rights Movement.

In Football We Trust

Tony Vainuku and Erika Cohn (directors)

Filmmakers Tony Vainuku and Erika Cohn track the four-year journey of four talented Polynesian high school football players as they strive for a way out of a world of gang violence, addiction and poverty and into the pros.

Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution

Stanley Nelson (writer/director)

Filmmaker and MacArthur Genius Award-winner Stanley Nelson returns to the Sundance Film Festival with his eighth documentary premiere. “Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” is a two-hour historical event revisiting an era where the police were policed.

Sembene!

Samba Gadijo (writer/director)

With clips from classics such as “Xala,” “Black Girl,” and “Moolaade,” this film captures a freedom fighter who used stories as weapons — Ousmane Sembene — the father of African cinema.

(T)ERROR

Lyric Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe (directors)

(T)ERROR is the first film to document, on camera, a covert terrorism sting as it unfolds. Through the perspective of *****, a 63-year-old Black revolutionary turned FBI informant, viewers are presented with an unprecedented glimpse of the government’s counterterrorism tactics, and the murky justifications behind them.

Fresh Dressed

Sacha Jenkins (director)

The history of hip-hop fashion from its birth in the South Bronx to the rise of a multibillion-dollar global industry. Supported by rich archival materials and in-depth interviews with individuals crucial to the evolution of a way of life, and the outsiders who studied and admired them.

Paris Is Burning

Jennie Livingston (director)

Part of the Sundance Collection, this screening invites audiences to revisit the art of “voguing.” Says one of the film’s subjects, “You can become anything and do anything. It’s our fantasy of being superstars.”

'Nasty Baby' Premieres Saturday January 24 at Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy Sundance Institute