Afrofuturism in film

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In film, Afrofuturism is the incorporation of black people's history and culture in science fiction film and related genres. The Guardian's Ashley Clark said the term Afrofuturism has "an amorphous nature" but that Afrofuturist films are "united by one key theme: the centring of the international black experience in alternate and imagined realities, whether fiction or documentary; past or present; science fiction or straight drama".[1] The New York Times's Glenn Kenny said, "Afrofuturism is more prominent in music and the graphic arts than it is in cinema, but there are movies out there that illuminate the notion in different ways."[2]

List of films[edit source | edit]

Film Year Description
Afronauts 2014 The film, directed by Ghanaian filmmaker Frances Bodomo, features the Zambia Space Academy that works to beat the United States to the moon as the latter prepares its Apollo 11 launch.[3][4]
Black Panther 2018 The superhero film, directed by Ryan Coogler, stars the comic book character Black Panther who is the king of the fictional kingdom of Wakanda. The film features Afrofuturist themes.[5][6]
Blade 1998 In the superhero film, the human-vampire hybrid Blade, played by black actor Wesley Snipes, protects humanity from evil vampires.[1][7]
Born in Flames 1983 The film, directed by Lizzie Borden, is described by Hyperallergic's Jeremy Polacek: "[It] presents the revolution as televised, paraded, reported, and reiterated by pundits and politicians — and yet still incomplete. Socialism may reign in Borden’s post-revolutionary America, but so does patriarchy, racism, and sexism."[7]
The Brother from Another Planet 1984 The science fiction film, directed by John Sayles, features an alien who escapes slavery on "Another Planet" and crash-lands and hides in Harlem.[7]
Brown Girl Begins 2017 The film is set in Toronto in the near future, and the upper class is protected by a force field.[8][4]
Crumbs 2015 The Ethiopian post-apocalyptic film is directed by Miguel Llansó.[3]
Hello, Rain 2018 The short film, directed by C.J. Obasi features a Scientist-Witch, who through an alchemical combination of juju and technology creates wigs which grant her and her friends supernatural powers. But when their powers grow uncontrollable, she must stop them by any means. It is based on the short story Hello, Moto by Nigerian-American author, Nnedi Okorafor.[9][4]
Kwaku Ananse 2013 The short film, directed by Akosua Adoma Owusu, shows a parallel between the Ghanaian fable "Anansi the Spider" and a young girl's life.[6]
The Last Angel of History 1996 The film, produced by Black Audio Film Collective and directed by John Akomfrah, combines science fiction and essay approaches and features a time-traveling "data thief" who searches for code to reveal his future.[1][10][4][6]
A Love Letter to the Ancestors From Chicago 2017 The short film is directed by Ytasha Womack.[11]
Memory Room 451 1997 The film, produced by the Black Audio Film Collective, is set in a dystopian world and presented as a documentary in which a time traveler interviews people of an earlier era.[3]
Monsoons Over The Moon 2015 The two-part short film, directed by Kenyan filmmaker Dan Muchina, is set in Nairobi in a dystopian future. A street gang fights against totalitarianism by freeing young people trapped in the system.[12]
Neptune Frost 2018 The film is set in a Burundian village that is made from recycled parts of computers. It features a romance between a coltan miner and an intersex runaway.[13]
An Oversimplification of Her Beauty 2012 The film, directed by Terence Nance, is described by Ashley Clark as a "mash-up of integrated fiction/nonfiction shorts, home video, voiceover narration and stock footage" including "plentiful, head-spinningly trippy animation sequences that place the film squarely in Afrofuturistic territory".[1]
Pumzi 2009 The short film, directed by Wanuri Kahiu, is Kenya's first science fiction film.[3][7][12][4][6]
Robots of Brixton 2011 The computer-generated short film, directed by Kibwe Tavares, re-contextualizes the 1981 Brixton riot in a dystopian future where robots riot against human police forces.[3]
Les Saignantes (English: Those Who Bleed) 2005 The erotic science fiction thriller is directed by Cameroonian filmmaker Jean-Pierre Bekolo.[3]
Sankofa 1993 The film, directed by Ethiopian-born Haile Gerima, features a contemporary model who, during a photo shoot, suddenly finds herself on a plantation in the Southern United States during the plantation era.[3][7][10][4]
The Sin Seer 2015 A cop and a person who can "see" others' sins work together to solve cases, but one case leads the gifted person to face her past.[4]
Space Is the Place 1974 The film, directed by John Coney, is a science-fiction take on the real-life musician Sun Ra and his crew The Arkestra. Ashley Clark said Ra plays "a cosmic card game" with a megapimp "to determine the fate of the black race". Clark said, "What follows is a brilliant and bizarre melange of comedy, musical performance and occasionally lurid blaxploitation aesthetics. It also, crucially, has a number of serious points to make about the plight of young urban blacks in a harsh, post-civil rights climate."[1][5][7][2][10]
Supa Modo 2018 In the feature film, a nine-year-old girl from a Kenyan village has a terminal illness and dreams of becoming a superhero. Her village helps her realize her dream. 14East said of the film's Afrofuturist touch, "There is a very mysterious element of magic realism and fantasy."[6]
Swimming In Your Skin Again 2015 The short film is directed by Terence Nance. 14East described it as "a film that leans toward experimental stylistically, its content is very thematic and its sequences are dreamlike... [and] speculates what could be some major issues in the future if we do not respect nature".[6]
They Charge for the Sun 2017 The short film, directed by Terence Nance, is set in a future where people live at night to avoid harmful sun rays and in which melanin comes into play.[10][4]
To Catch a Dream 2015 The Kenyan surrealist short film, written and directed by Jim Chuchu, features a grieving widow who has nightmares and tries a mystical remedy to end them.[12]
Touch 2013 The short film, directed by Shola Amoo, is set in the near future.[3]
Touki Bouki 1973 The Senegalese road film is directed by Djibril Diop Mambéty. The New York Times's Glenn Kenny said, "The movie is replete with such purposeful disjointedness, the better to articulate space-time dissociations. "[2][6]
Trafik d'Info 2005 The film, directed by Janluk Stanislas, was shot in Guadelope and is considered the first science fiction film to be shot in the Caribbean.[3]
Welcome II the Terrordome 1995 The film, directed by Ngozi Onwurah, is set in an inner-city slum in a dystopian near-future. The film is the first directed by a black British woman to be released in theaters.[1][7][10]
White Out, Black In 2014 The science fiction documentary, directed by Adirley Queirós, is set in Brazil and follows three men who deal with a past tragedy.[3]
A Wrinkle in Time 2018 The multiracial adaptation of the 1962 science fantasy novel A Wrinkle in Time has, according to author and filmmaker Ytasha Womack, an Afrofuturistic signature of "strong female" characters.[8]
Yeelen (English: Brightness) 1987 The Malian film, directed by Souleymane Cissé "follows a young mage on a journey to confront his power-mad father". The New York Times's Glenn Kenny said of the film in the context of Afrofuturism, "Mr. Cissé’s languid but mindful pacing and his indifference to Western film language conventions on space and time transitions also contribute to the movie’s distinction."[2][10]

References[edit source | edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Clark, Ashley (April 2, 2015). "Afrofuturism on film: five of the best". The Guardian. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Kenny, Glenn (March 13, 2018). "Exploring Afrofuturism in Film, Where Sci-Fi and Mythology Blur". The New York Times. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 Clark, Ashley (April 11, 2015). "Afrofuturist Film From Around the World At BAMcinématek, Brooklyn". IndieWire. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 Bashir, Zubaydah (May 23, 2018). "Here's Our List of 8 Must-See Afrofuturist Films". OkayAfrica. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Harding, Xavier (November 12, 2017). "'Black Panther' isn't just another Marvel movie — it's a vision of a future led by blackness". Mic. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 Wade, Natalie (March 1, 2019). "Afrofuturism: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture for Black Artists". 14East. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Polacek, Jeremy (April 10, 2015). "The Fantastical Paradoxes of Afrofuturist Film". Hyperallergic. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Glasner, Eli (February 10, 2018). "'We are ready. We've been ready': Black Panther ushers in a new wave of black sci-fi". Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  9. The Rocket, Stubby (January 16, 2018). "How Hello, Rain Builds on the Magic of Nnedi Okorafor's "Hello, Moto"". Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 Clark, Ashley (February 22, 2018). "What to Watch After Black Panther: An Afrofuturism Primer". Vulture. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
  11. Polo, Susana (January 26, 2018). "Black Panther, explained". Polygon. Retrieved January 28, 2018.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Sylvans, Winston (July 13, 2017). "What Is Afrofuturism? Three Movies To Watch If You Want To Get Familiar". Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  13. Isama, Antoinette (July 21, 2018). "A Sci-Fi Film About an Otherworldly Village Made of Old Computer Parts In Burundi By Saul Williams Is In The Works". OkayAfrica. Retrieved November 11, 2018.

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