Sundance, With a Little Color

Seven films we're excited about in this year's festival

By Jamilah King Jan 21, 2014

The Sundance film festival is underway in Park City, Utah, and that usually means good things for a few talented filmmakers of color. In recent years, and thanks largely to the Sundance Institute’s very deliberate efforts to cultivate underrepresented artists, the festival has become a launch pad for stories that matter to communities whose voices are often in the margins.

Take Ryan Coogler’s "Fruitvale Station," which premiered in 2013 and went on to become one of the year’s most talked-about films. Or Aurora Guerrero’s "Mosquita y Mari," which also premiered at Sundance and opened the world up to a subtle love story between two teenage Latinas in Los Angeles. Sundance has proved that stories by artists of color are relevant and profitable.

This year’s festival promises its own treats. Below are seven films that we’re particularly excited about:

Drunktown’s Finest

Filmmaker Sydney Freeland brings us the coming-of-age stories of three young Native Americans who feel trapped on a New Mexico reservation. The stories include a father-to-be and a young trans woman. 

Dear White People

By far one of the most highly anticipated films at this year’s festival, "Dear White People" focuses on four black college students as racial tensions flare up on campus. 

Freedom Summer

This June will mark the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, the radical 1964 campaign put into action by the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee to register black voters in Mississippi. Filmmaker Stanley Nelson caught up with many of the summer’s participants to document why that moment still matters.


In this Afrofuturistic drama, a group of ragtag Zimbabwean exiles make their way to the moon. It’s an alternative telling of Neil Armstrong’s historic 1969 landing.

Cesar’s Last Fast

Filmmaker James Chressanthis revisits Cesar Chavez’s 36-day fast in 1988 to bring attention to the hazards of pesticides. 

Concerning Violence

Göran Hugo Olsson, the Swedish filmmaker who also made 2011’s incredible "Black Power Mixtape," is back with this harrowing look at Africa’s liberation struggles of the 1970s. This film features narration by Lauryn Hill. 

The End of Eating Everything

Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu teams up with Santigold to bring this mind-altering short film that comments on how humans are pretty much ruining the world. The animation is dope, though.