Selah and The Spades (2019)

The nonprofit Sundance Institute announced today the showcase of new independent feature films selected across all categories for the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. The Festival hosts screenings in Park City, Salt Lake City and at Sundance Mountain Resort, from January 24 – February 3, 2019.

The Festival is the Institute’s public program flagship alongside Festivals in London and Hong Kong and other screenings and events elsewhere throughout the year. Sundance Institute supports independent artists with year-round programs, with nearly $3 million in direct grants and 21 Labs and residencies for artists around the world working in film, theatre, New Frontier and episodic content.

Below is a listing of feature films from black filmmakers or that feature black talent in prominent roles complied by Shadow and Act. Thanks to Trey Mangum.

Check them out below and view the full list here.

U.S. Dramatic Competition

Before You Know It / U.S.A. (Director: Hannah Pearl Utt, Screenwriters: Hannah Pearl Utt, Jen Tullock, Producers: Mallory Schwartz, Josh Hetzler, James Brown) — A long-kept family secret thrusts codependent, thirty-something sisters Rachel and Jackie Gurner into a literal soap opera. A journey that proves that you really can come of age, at any age. Cast: Hannah Pearl Utt, Jen Tullock, Judith Light, Mandy Patinkin, Mike Colter, Alec Baldwin. World Premiere

Brittany Runs A Marathon / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Paul Downs Colaizzo, Producers: Matthew Plouffe, Tobey Maguire, Margot Hand) — A woman living in New York takes control of her life – one city block at a time. Cast: Jillian Bell, Michaela Watkins, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Lil Rel Howery, Micah Stock, Alice Lee. World Premiere

Clemency / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Chinonye Chukwu, Producers: Bronwyn Cornelius, Julian Cautherley, Peter Wong, Timur Bekbosunov) — Years of carrying out death row executions have taken a toll on prison warden Bernadine Williams. As she prepares to execute another inmate, Bernadine must confront the psychological and emotional demons her job creates, ultimately connecting her to the man she is sanctioned to kill. Cast: Alfre Woodard, Aldis Hodge, Richard Schiff, Wendell Pierce, Richard Gunn, Danielle Brooks. World Premiere

Honey Boy / U.S.A. (Director: Alma Har’el, Screenwriter: Shia LaBeouf, Producers: Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Daniela Taplin Lundberg, Anita Gou, Christopher Leggett, Alma Har’el) — A child TV star and his ex-rodeo clown father face their stormy past through time and cinema. Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Lucas Hedges, Noah Jupe, FKA Twigs. World Premiere

Luce / U.S.A. (Director: Julius Onah, Screenwriters: JC Lee, Julius Onah, Producers: John Baker, Julius Onah, Andrew Yang) — A married couple is forced to reckon with their idealized image of their son, adopted from war-torn Eritrea, after an alarming discovery by a devoted high school teacher threatens his status as an all-star student. Cast: Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Tim Roth, Norbert Leo Butz. World Premiere

Native Son / U.S.A. (Director: Rashid Johnson, Screenwriter: Suzan-Lori Parks, Producers: Matthew Perniciaro, Michael Sherman) — In this modern reimagining of Richard Wright’s seminal novel, a young African-American man named Bigger Thomas takes a job working for a highly influential Chicago family, a decision that will change the course of his life forever. Cast: Ashton Sanders, Margaret Qualley, Nick Robinson, KiKi Layne, Bill Camp, Sanaa Lathan. World Premiere.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco / U.S.A. (Director: Joe Talbot, Screenwriters: Joe Talbot, Rob Richert, Producers: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Christina Oh, Khaliah Neal, Joe Talbot) — Jimmie Fails dreams of reclaiming the Victorian home his grandfather built in the heart of San Francisco. Joined on his quest by his best friend Mont, Jimmie searches for belonging in a rapidly changing city that seems to have left them behind. Cast: Jimmie Fails, Jonathan Majors, Rob Morgan, Tichina Arnold, Danny Glover. World Premiere

The Sound of Silence / U.S.A. (Director: Michael Tyburski, Screenwriters: Ben Nabors, Michael Tyburski, Producers: Ben Nabors, Michael Prall, Tariq Merhab, Charlie Scully, Mandy Tagger Brockey, Adi Ezroni) — A successful “house tuner” in New York City, who calibrates the sound in people’s homes in order to adjust their moods, meets a client with a problem he can’t solve. Cast: Peter Sarsgaard, Rashida Jones, Tony Revolori, Austin Pendleton. World Premiere

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Premature / U.S.A. (Director: Rashaad Ernesto Green, Screenwriters: Rashaad Ernesto Green, Zora Howard, Producers: Joy Ganes, Rashaad Ernesto Green, Darren Dean) — The summer before she leaves for college, Ayanna meets handsome and mysterious outsider Isaiah; her entire world is turned upside down as she navigates the demanding terrain of young love against a changing Harlem landscape. Cast: Zora Howard, Joshua Boone, Michelle Wilson, Alexis Marie Wint, Imani Lewis, Tashiana Washington. World Premiere

Selah and the Spades / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Tayarisha Poe, Producers: Lauren McBride, Lucas Joaquin, Drew Houpt, Tayarisha Poe, Jill Ahrens) — Five factions run the underground life of the prestigious Haldwell boarding school. At the head of the most powerful faction – The Spades – sits Selah Summers. By turns charming and callous, she chooses whom to keep close and whom to cut loose, walking the fine line between being feared and loved. Cast: Lovie Simone, Celeste O’Connor, Jharrel Jerome, Gina Torres, Jesse Williams. World Premiere

The Wolf Hour / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Alistair Banks Griffin, Producers: Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Bailey Conway Anglewicz, Bradley Pilz) — Once a known counterculture figure, June E. Leigh now lives in self-imposed exile in her South Bronx apartment during the incendiary ’77 Summer of Sam. When an unseen tormentor begins exploiting June’s weaknesses, her insular universe begins to unravel. Cast: Naomi Watts, Emory Cohen, Jennifer Ehle, Kelvin Harrison Jr. World Premiere

U.S. Documentary competition

Always in Season / U.S.A. (Director: Jacqueline Olive, Producers: Jacqueline Olive, Jessica Devaney) — When 17-year-old Lennon Lacy is found hanging from a swing set in rural North Carolina in 2014, his mother’s search for justice and reconciliation begins as the trauma of more than a century of lynching African Americans bleeds into the present. World Premiere

Pahokee / U.S.A. (Directors: Ivete Lucas, Patrick Bresnan, Producers: Ivete Lucas, Patrick Bresnan, Maida Lynn) — In a small agricultural town in the Florida Everglades, hopes for the future are concentrated on the youth. Four teens face heartbreak and celebrate in the rituals of an extraordinary senior year. World Premiere

Premieres

Relive / U.S.A. (Director: Jacob Estes, Screenwriters: Jacob Estes, Drew Daywalt, Producers: Jason Blum, Bobby Cohen, David Oyelowo) — After a man’s family dies in what appears to be a murder, he gets a phone call from one of the dead, his niece. He’s not sure if she’s a ghost or if he’s going mad — but as it turns out, he’s not. Instead, her calls help him rewrite history. Cast: David Oyelowo, Storm Reid, Mykelti Williamson, Alfred Molina, Brian Tyree Henry. World Premiere

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Producers: Andrea Calderwood, Gail Egan) — Against all the odds, a thirteen year old boy in Malawi invents an unconventional way to save his family and village from famine. Based on the true story of William Kamkwamba. Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Maxwell Simba, Lily Banda, Noma Dumezweni, Aissa Maiga, Joseph Marcell. World Premiere

The Mustang / U.S.A. (Director: Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, Screenwriters: Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, Mona Fastvold, Brock Norman Brock, Producer: Alain Goldman) — While participating in a rehabilitation program training wild mustangs, a convict at first struggles to connect with the horses and his fellow inmates, but learns to confront his violent past as he soothes an especially feisty horse. Cast: Matthias Schoenaerts, Connie Britton, Bruce Dern, Jason Mitchell, Gideon Adlon, Josh Stewart. World Premiere

Troupe Zero / U.S.A. (Director: Bert & Bertie, Screenwriter: Lucy Alibar, Producers: Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Steve Tisch, Alex Siskin, Viola Davis) — In rural 1977 Georgia, a misfit girl dreams of life in outer space. When a national competition offers her a chance at her dream, to be recorded on NASA’s Golden Record, she recruits a makeshift troupe of Birdie Scouts, forging friendships that last a lifetime and beyond. Cast: Viola Davis, Mckenna Grace, Jim Gaffigan, Mike Epps, Charlie Shotwell, Allison Janney. World Premiere

Documentary Premieres

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool / U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director: Stanley Nelson, Producers: Nicole London, Stanley Nelson) — A visionary, innovator, and originator who defied categorization and embodied the word cool: a foray into the life and career of musical and cultural icon Miles Davis. World Premiere

Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am / U.S.A. (Director: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Producers: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Johanna Giebelhaus, Chad Thompson, Tommy Walker) — This artful and intimate meditation on the legendary storyteller examines her life, her works and the powerful themes she has confronted throughout her literary career. Toni Morrison leads an assembly of her peers, critics and colleagues on an exploration of race, history, America and the human condition. World Premiere

World Cinematic Drama Competition

The Last Tree / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Shola Amoo, Producers: Lee Thomas, Myf Hopkins) — Femi is a British boy of Nigerian heritage who, after a happy childhood in rural Lincolnshire, moves to inner London to live with his mum. Struggling with the unfamiliar culture and values of his new environment, teenage Femi has to figure out which path to adulthood he wants to take. Cast: Sam Adewunmi, Gbemisola Ikumelo, Tai Golding. World Premiere

Midnight

Little Monsters / Australia (Director and screenwriter: Abe Forsythe, Producers: Jodi Matterson, Bruna Papandrea, Steve Hutensky, Keith Calder, Jessica Calder) — A film dedicated to all the kindergarten teachers who motivate children to learn, instill them with confidence and stop them from being devoured by zombies. Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Alexander England, Josh Gad. World Premiere

Mope / U.S.A. (Director: Lucas Heyne, Screenwriters: Lucas Heyne, Zack Newkirk, Producers: Kelly Hayes, Brian Cooper, Kern Saxton, Danny Roth) — Two ‘mopes’ – the lowest-level male performers in the porn industry – set their sights on an impossible dream: stardom. Cast: Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Kelly Sry, Brian Huskey, Max Adler, David Arquette, Tonya Cornelisse. World Premiere

Sweetheart / U.S.A. (Director: JD Dillard, Screenwriters: JD Dillard, Alex Theurer, Alex Hyner, Producers: Jason Blum, JD Dillard, Alex Theurer, Alex Hyner, Bill Karesh) — Jenn has washed ashore a small tropical island and it doesn’t take her long to realize she’s completely alone. She must spend her days not only surviving the elements, but must also fend off the malevolent force that comes out each night. Cast: Kiersey Clemons, Emory Cohen, Hanna Mangan Lawrence, Andrew Crawford. World Premiere

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