Where Are They Now? Looking Back At Last Year's Class Of Black Films At Sundance

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by Tambay A. Obenson
January 17, 2013 2:19 PM
2 Comments
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The 2013 Sundance Film Festival is upon us folks. The first film festival of each year that many filmmakers work diligently to get their films into.

Most don't make the final cut, and for those that do, it could mean the beginning of an extra special year!

I don't think I'm going out on a limb when I say that for most filmmakers with feature films that are selected to screen at the festival, the goal, or at least, the hope, is that their entry make enough of a splash at the festival, gets picked up for distribution (sometime during the festival, or soon thereafter) after a bidding war, opens on 2000 screens later in the year, does well at the box office, en route to lots of acclaim, and maybe even Oscar nods.

Ok, so maybe that's not necessarily the dream for every filmmaker - but I'd say that, at the very least, most hope that their film attracts a distributor - the right distributor - and maybe even eventually enjoys a theatrical release - even if it's very limited. 

Unless, of course, you're one of those with plans to self-distribute your film, and already know that going into the festival.

Obviously, the dream doesn't come true for everyone. And while some are acquired for distribution almost immediately, while still at the festival, others wait months, and, in some case, even a year or more, before finding a home somewhere.

And with 24 diasporic films (shorts, features, docs - see them all HERE) screening at this year's festival - films that tell stories that center primarily around characters of African descent - how many of the features will see whatever the filmmaker's dream for their films are?

14 of them are features (fiction and doc). And in anticipation of the festival's opening, I thought I'd take a look back at last year's class of black films, to see which ones got acquired, and were eventually released, and which ones weren't.

It was a great year (2012) for black films at Sundance, because every single feature film was surprisingly picked up AND released, or will soon be released in theaters (except for one, which was likely made for TV anyway). 12 of them in total - again, docs and fiction.

Will this year's 14 features enjoy the same kind of success? I don't know. We'll see where we are a year from now, when I'm looking back on this year's class.

But for right now, here's a look at last year's class, including who picked them up and released (or will release) them. If anything, it should prove useful for those who aren't aware of, and/or haven't seen all these films. Many of them are now on home video; some are streaming on Netflix. So seek them out:

2 Days in New York directed by Julie Delpy, starring Delpy and Chris Rock in a sequel to Delpy's 2 Days In Paris - picked up and released theatrically by Magnolia Pictures.

Celeste and Jesse Forever written by and starring Rashida Jones. Picked up and released theatrically by Sony Pictures Classics.

Red Hook Summer directed Spike Lee, starring Clarke Peters, and Jules Brown, amongst others. Picked up and released theatrically by Variance Films.

Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap directed by Ice-T. Picked up and released theatrically by Indomina Releasing.

Beasts of the Southern Wild starring Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry. Picked up and released theatrically by Fox Searchlight.

LUV directed by Sheldon Candis, starring Common, Michael Rainey Jr., Dennis Haysbert, Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton. Picked up by Indomina Releasing. Will be released theatrically this month.

Middle Of Nowhere directed by Ava DuVernay, starring Emayatzy Corinealdi, David Oyelowo, Omari Hardwick, Lorraine Touissant, Edwina Findley. Jointly acquired and released theatrically by AFFRM and Participant Media.

The House I Live In directed by Eugene Jarecki) - on American's "War on Drugs" and prison industrial complex. Picked up and released theatrically by Abramorama. 

Slavery By Another Name directed by Sam Pollard. Didn't get a theatrical release, but I don't think it was really meant to. It was broadcast on PBS.

The Ambassador directed by Mads Brügger. What happens when a very white European man buys his way into being a diplomat in one of Central Africa's most failed nations? An investigative report on African diplomacy, and political corruption. Picked up and released theatrically by Drafthouse.

Wuthering Heights starring James Howson, Solomon Glave. Picked up and released theatrically by Oscilloscope Pictures.

An Oversimplification of Her Beauty directed by Terence Nance), starring Nance, Namik Minter, Chanelle Pearson. Was just acquired by Variance Films for a spring 2013 theatrical release.

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2 Comments

  • Dankwa Brooks | January 19, 2013 8:46 PMReply

    I saw Celeste and Jesse Forever, Red Hook Summer, Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap, Beasts of the Southern Wild, LUV and Middle Of Nowhere and enjoyed them all.

    I also saw most of them on the big screen through theatrical distribution so I thank those distributors.

  • Dee | January 19, 2013 3:48 AMReply

    Slightly off topic. (by s year) But what happened to Blacktino?

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