Excitement is building as the Sundance Film Festival gears up for its 40th edition, set to unfold in Park City, Utah, from Jan. 18–28, with the online component launching on Jan. 25. The festival promises a captivating array of independent films, with a focus on discovery and fresh voices.
In the spirit of celebration and anticipation, we’ve combed through the extensive Sundance 2024 lineup to spotlight projects from exceptionally talented Black and Brown artists that we’re eager to see grace both the big and small screens in 2024.
As the festival continues to embrace a hybrid format, blending in-person and online experiences, we’re thrilled to share this curated list that puts a spotlight on the diverse narratives and creative endeavors that promise to make a significant impact.
Join us on this cinematic journey, exploring the innovative works and breakthrough talents that the Sundance Film Festival has in store for its milestone 40th edition. For more details and the full lineup, check out Sundance Festival Website.
The American Society of Magical Negroes
A young man, Aren, is recruited into a secret society of magical Black people who dedicate their lives to a cause of utmost importance: making white people’s lives easier. If The Birth of a Nation by D.W. Griffith is proclaimed “the greatest picture ever made,” then the “magical negro” — a Black supporting character who exists solely to serve a white protagonist’s storyline — has been a stock character trope since the inception of American cinema.
Director(s): Kobi Libii
Screenwriter: Kobi Libii
Producer: Julia Lebedev, Eddie Vaisman, Angel Lopez, Kobi Libii
Principal Cast: Justice Smith, David Alan Grier, An-Li Bogan, Drew Tarver, Rupert Friend, Nicole Byer
Robert Peace grew up in an impoverished section of Newark and later graduated from Yale with degrees in molecular biophysics and biochemistry while on scholarship. Peace led a dual life in academia and research while also earning six figures selling marijuana. Based on Jeff Hobbs’ bestselling biography.
Director(s): Chiwetel Ejiofor
Screenwriter: Chiwetel Ejiofor
Producer: Andrea Calderwood, Antoine Fuqua, Kat Samick, Rebecca Hobbs, Jeffrey Soros, Simon Horsman, Alex Kurtzman, Jenny Lumet
Based on the Book by: Jeff Hobbs
Executive Producer: Mary J. Blige, Morgan Earnest, Luke Rodgers, Jeff Skoll, Robert Kessel, Bruce Evans, Jamin O’Brien
Principal Cast: Jay Will, Mary J. Blige, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Camila Cabello, Michael Kelly, Mare Winningham
Luther: Never Too Much
Luther Vandross started his career supporting David Bowie, Roberta Flack, Bette Midler, and more. His undeniable talent earned platinum records and accolades, but he struggled to break out beyond the R&B charts. Intensely driven, he overcame personal and professional challenges to secure his place amongst the greatest vocalists in history.
If you know, you know— there’s only one Luther. Acclaimed festival alum Dawn Porter invites audiences on a musical journey into the life of the iconic Luther Vandross, the man with the soulful velvet voice. An archival tapestry of performances and recording sessions immerse us in his legendary musical talent as a singer, songwriter, and producer. Porter then goes beyond the spotlight to delve into the man behind the music—insights from musicians and friends alongside archival interviews with Luther himself reveal his humor, frustrations, loneliness, and unwavering dedication to his craft.
Director(s): Dawn Porter
Producer: Trish D Chetty, Ged Doherty, Jamie Foxx, Datari Turner, Leah Smith
Executive Producers: Dawn Porter, Eli Holzman, Aaron Saidman, Tom Mackay, Richard Story, Jon Platt, Brian Monaco, Colin Firth, David Gottlieb, Phil Thornton
U.S. Dramatic Competition
Utilizing his paintings to find freedom from his past, a Black artist on the path to success is derailed by an unexpected visit from his estranged father, a recovering addict desperate to reconcile. Together, they learn that forgetting might be a greater challenge than forgiving.
Director(s): Titus Kaphar
Screenwriter: Titus Kaphar
Producer: Stephanie Allain, Derek Cianfrance, Jamie Patricof, Sean Cotton, Titus Kaphar
Executive Producer: Claire Brooks, Stephanie Blackwood, Kim Coleman, Andrew Mann
Principal Cast: André Holland, John Earl Jelks, Andra Day, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor
A teenager who, while caring for her brother along with her audacious mother, strikes up an unlikely friendship with an eccentric activist who is protesting one of the most landmark medical cases of all time. Inspired by a semi-autobiographical story.
Director(s): Laura Chinn
Screenwriter: Laura Chinn
Producer: Jeremy Plager, Francesca Silvestri, Kevin Chinoy, Oly Obst
Executive Producers: Chris Stinson, Amy Greene, Anna Schwartz
Principal Cast: Laura Linney, Woody Harrelson, Nico Parker
I Saw the TV Glow
Teenager Owen is just trying to make it through life in the suburbs when his classmate introduces him to a mysterious late-night TV show — a vision of a supernatural world beneath their own. In the pale glow of the television, Owen’s view of reality begins to crack.
Director(s): Jane Schoenbrun
Screenwriter: Jane Schoenbrun
Producer: Emma Stone, Dave McCary, Ali Herting, Sam Intili, Sarah Winshall
Principal Cast: Justice Smith, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Ian Foreman, Helena Howard, Fred Durst, Danielle Deadwyler
It’s What’s Inside
A pre-wedding party descends into an existential nightmare when an estranged friend shows up with a mysterious suitcase.
Director(s): Greg Jardin
Screenwriter: Greg Jardin
Producer: William Rosenfeld, Kate Andrews, Jason Baum, Raúl Domingo
Executive Producer: Colman Domingo, Ulf Ek, Robert Kapp
Cast: Brittany O’Grady, James Morosini, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Devon Terrell, Gavin Leatherwood, Reina Hardesty, Nina Bloomgarden, David Thompson
Tasked with what appears to be a simple abduction for hire, two hapless kidnappers find out that it’s anything but and end up in the middle of a political conspiracy.
Director(s): Bruno Mourral
Screenwriter: Jasmuel Andri, Bruno Mourral, Gilbert Jr. Mirambeau
Producer: Samuel Chauvin, Bruno Mourral, Yanick Letourneau, Gilbert Jr. Mirambeau, Gaëthan Chancy
Cast: Jasmuel Andri, Rolaphton Mercure, Anabel Lopez, Ashley Laraque, Gessica Geneus, Patrick Joseph, Manfred Marcelin, Marcus Boereau
U.S. Documentary Competition
As We Speak
Bronx rap artist Kemba explores the growing weaponization of rap lyrics in the United States criminal justice system and abroad — revealing how law enforcement has quietly used artistic creation as evidence in criminal cases for decades.
Director(s): J.M. Harper
Producers: Sam Widdoes, Peter Cambor, Sam Bisbee, J.M. Harper
Executive Producers: Ryan Simon, Max Allman, Cody Ryder, Amanda Culkowski, Bruce Gillmer
Four young girls prepare for a special Daddy Daughter Dance with their incarcerated fathers, as part of a unique fatherhood program in a Washington, D.C., jail.
Director(s): Angela Patton, Natalie Rae
Producers: Natalie Rae, Lisa Mazzotta, Justin Benoliel, Mindy Goldberg, Sam Bisbee, Kathryn Everett, Laura Choi Raycroft, James Cunningham
Executive Producers: Jessica Seinfeld, Joel Edgerton, Lydia Kives, Jackie Bisbee, Lance Acord, Harland Weiss, Dom Thomas, Jason Harper, Morgan Clement
Amaria “Yaya” Jones, an argumentative teenager with a passion for dance, must plead her case to her overprotective brother in hopes of winning his blessing to walk to school with her first crush. Yaya’s story is a celebration of life.
Director(s): Nzingha Stewart
Screenwriter: Keyonna Taylor, Rob McElhenney
Executive Producers: Rob McElhenney, Keyonna Taylor, Nzingha Stewart, Jackie Cohn, Nick Frenkel, Jermaine Johnson
Principal Cast: Camryn Jones, Victor Musoni, Anji White, Travis Wolfe Jr., Nadirah Bost, Mike Sampson
Conbody VS Everybody
Taking place over eight years, Coss Marte builds ConBody, a gym inspired by workouts he developed while in prison. Committed to employing trainers who were formerly incarcerated, Coss creates a community fighting to break the cycle of recidivism while navigating society’s many obstacles to reentry.
Director(s): Debra Granik
Executive Producers: Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini, Victoria Stewart, Jeff Skoll, Diane Weyermann, Joslyn Barnes, Jonathan Scheuer
World Cinema Documentary Competition
Soundtrack to a Coup d’Etat
In 1960, United Nations: the Global South ignites a political earthquake, musicians Abbey Lincoln and Max Roach crash the Security Council, Nikita Khrushchev bangs his shoe denouncing America’s color bar, while the U.S. dispatches jazz ambassador Louis Armstrong to the Congo to deflect attention from its first African post-colonial coup.
Director(s): Johan Grimonprez
Screenwriter: Johan Grimonprez
Producers: Daan Milius, Rémi Grellety
Co-Producers: Katja Draaijer, Frank Hoeve, Johan Grimonprez
Narrator: Marie Daulne, In Koli Jean Bofane, Patrick Cruise O’Brien
In one of Latin America’s most unequal countries, Francia Márquez, a Black Colombian rural activist, challenges the status quo with a presidential campaign that reappropriates the derogatory term “Igualada” — someone who acts as if they deserve rights that supposedly don’t correspond to them — and inspires a nation to dream.
Director(s): Juan Mejía Botero
Produced by: Juan E. Yepes, Daniela Alatorre, Sonia Serna
Executive Producer: Marco Williams, Paola Mendoza, Felipe Estefan
Seeking Mavis Beacon
Launched in the late ’80s, educational software Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing taught millions globally, but the program’s Haitian-born cover model vanished decades ago. Two DIY investigators search for the unsung cultural icon, while questioning notions of digital security, AI, and Black representation in the digital realm.
Director(s): Jazmin Renée Jones
Screenwriter: Jazmin Renée Jones
Producer: Guetty Felin
Cast: Jazmin Renée Jones, Olivia McKayla Ross
Associate Producer: Olivia McKayla Ross
Executive Producers: Tom Quinn, Dan O’Meara, Kate Gondwe, Charlotte Cook