The revision includes more material on topics including the Tulsa Race Massacre, Black culture’s influence on film and sports, and discriminatory practices related to housing, known as redlining. The new framework will be used when the course officially launches next academic year.
The course gained national attention early this year when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, now a Republican presidential candidate, said he would ban the course in his state because it pushed a political agenda. The College Board later removed several topics from the exam, including Black Lives Matter, slavery reparations and queer life, and was criticized for bowing to political pressure.
The latest changes address some of that criticism.
The course outline includes written works about feminism and intersectionality, which is a framework for understanding the effects of overlapping systems of discrimination or disadvantage. A unit on “The Black Feminist Movement, Womanism and Intersectionality” includes the 1977 Combahee River Collective Statement by a group of Black feminist lesbians who fought against capitalism, imperialism and patriarchy.
The College Board, a nonprofit testing company, had faced criticism last winter for removing intersectionality from this unit.
The course framework also adds “Legacy” by provocative poet and activist Amiri Baraka as an optional resource in a section on Black arts, after Baraka was among several prominent Black voices removed last winter. Black female writers, including bell hooks and Audre Lorde, also were spotted in the latest revisions.
Several sources that were required course content in the framework released in February were listed as optional in the latest revision, including an interactive map of the 1919 Red Summer riots by white supremacists, a speech by Frederick Douglass and writings between Malcolm X and Maya Angelou in Ghana.
The College Board in April had said it would revise the course after the Florida controversy, promising an “unflinching encounter with the facts,” an announcement that some scholars interpreted as an admission that it had watered down the course.
“There is a lot of content to cover, and that is because students have not been exposed to this. So it feels overwhelming at times that there’s a lot that they don’t know,” said Nelva Williamson, who is one of the authors of the framework and who teaches one pilot class of AP African American Studies to 31 students at Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy in Houston.
Williamson said those who teach the course are asked each month what is going well and what needs work. “But then there’s also this piece: ‘What would you like to see?’” Williamson, who has been teaching for more than 40 years, said of piloting the AP course. “The updates are based on teacher recommendations, and changes coincide with the latest scholarship and resources used at the collegiate level.”
The College Board offers AP courses across the academic spectrum, including in math, science, social studies, foreign languages and fine arts. The courses are optional and taught at a college level. Students who score high enough on the final exam usually can earn course credit at their university.
The AP African American Studies course was initially piloted in 60 schools in 2022 and was expanded this academic year to about 700 schools and about 13,000 students.
Next year, the AP course will be available to all schools in the U.S. But it remains unclear how many will actually offer it.
The revised framework “defines the course content, what students will see on the AP exam, and represents more than three years of rigorous development by nearly 300 African American Studies scholars, high school AP teachers and experts within the AP Program,” the College Board said in a statement.
“We are encouraged by the groundswell of interest in the class,” said Holly Stepp, spokesperson for the College Board.
RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment
LEIMERT PARK — Local business owners got a visit Dec. 5 from Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass.
Before leaving, Bass proclaimed “I will be back,” and promised to set up a town hall meeting, increase resources and public safety in the area and make a stronger push for cultural designation for one of the city’s most influential communities.
“Leimert Park is like home for me,” Bass told The Wave after her visit. “It was wonderful to hear the feedback and challenges. I heard them loud and clear.”
Bass spent about 90 minutes in Leimert Park, strolling down 43rd Place and Degnan Boulevard to talk with business owners and patrons who happened to be shopping in the area. The visit was part of Bass’ commemoration of her first year in office as mayor of Los Angeles.
Bass stopped in ORA, a delicatessen and book store on Degnan, and ended up conducting a mini-town hall meeting in front of approximately 50 people. It was inside ORA where Bass announced plans to schedule an extended town hall meeting to involve more business owners and local residents.
“We’re going to join forces with all the elected officials representing this community and set up a meeting to make sure Leimert Park has what it needs,” Bass told the group. “We’ve got the World Cup coming here in 2026 and the Olympics in 2028. We want the world to know about Leimert Park.”
Umaar Askia, owner of Nappily Naturals and Apothecary, a health and wellness store, said he’s been operating his business for almost 30 years. During that time, he said no previous Los Angeles mayor has come to Leimert Park.
Askia echoed a theme of most of the business owners that Bass’ visit was encouraging and needed.
“Her being here definitely has value,” Askia said of Bass. “The true value will be shown once the action is put behind the promises. Her visit shows she’s paying attention, and that’s important.”
Bass’ first stop was the Universal College of Beauty School, where she met the school’s owner, Ken Williams, and took pictures with many of the students.
While walking down Degnan, Bass went inside The Sisters Marketplace, a boutique with African attire for men and women. The sight of the mayor of Los Angeles browsing through Leimert Park had a significant impact on the business owners.
“It’s going to motivate business owners to work together more,” Alfred Torregano, executive producer of Leimert Park’s Juneteenth Festival, said of Bass’ visit. “Bass coming here is a message that we need to get our stuff together, so we can be a part of the plans she has for Leimert Park.”
Torregano, better known as DJ QwessCoast, said it was a “good day” for Leimert Park businesses that rarely benefit from the kind of attention generated by Bass’ visit.
The ultimate goal, according to most Leimert Park supporters, is cultural designation, a status given to Los Angeles communities such as Koreatown. Similar communities are promoted by the tourism industry in southern California.
Leimert Park business owners believe the cultural designation will increase awareness of the area and boost the economy.
The designation could be vital with other major events coming to Los Angeles, which has a steady stream of visitors from around the world throughout the year.
“We should be known as the Leimert Park Black Arts District,” said Khalifa Bey, executive director of the South Los Angeles Bureau of Tourism and Trade. “People are looking for literature and culture for their children and unique shopping. We have it in Leimert Park. Visitors always hear about Disneyland, Hollywood, Santa Monica … places like that.”
Bass indicated she will support efforts for Leimert Park to earn cultural designation status. The issue will likely be included on the agenda when the town hall meeting is scheduled.
No target date has been set for the meeting, but the fact that a meeting is being planned is viewed as a major step for Leimert Park.
“We’re not the same Black community we were in the past,” Askia said. “We’re more vocal now. We have access to technology to go viral with our businesses.”
Leimert Park supporters want to make sure the progress does not go unnoticed.
Ray Richardson is a contributing writer for The Wave. He can be reached at email@example.com.
RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment
The complex and powerful history of Afro-Argentinians is getting its long-overdue visibility through a new tour experience. Lunfarda Travel, a woman-owned tour company in Buenos Aires, is leveraging tourism as a way of activism.
These tours allow local communities to tap into the lucrative, yet historically gatekept travel industry. Although it may be difficult to find Black guides or travel agents, Lunfarda is working to improve that.
“Creating the tour is about bringing economic empowerment to the Black community through ownership of our narrative,” Lunfarda’s Travel Director Julia Cohen Ribeiro shared with Travel Noire. “By running this tour, we’re pushing money into often-overlooked businesses. [We are also] sponsoring local artists and creating a fund to achieve dreams like the first Black History Museum in the city. Tourism has become a way of activism. [We are] consciously redirecting travelers’ dollars into places where they can have a profound impact.”
Travel Noire spoke with Ribeiro about how the company helps to transform the understanding of what Argentinity means.
Travel Noire: Can you shed light on the whitewashing of Argentina? Why is this time in Argentina’s history particularly special for Afro-Argentinians?
Julia Cohen Ribeiro: As with any country on the American continent, Argentina was a colony, [which] means it profited off the slave trade. Although an estimated 200,000 African people entered the territory through the port of Buenos Aires, the [consensus] regarding our history is that ‘There are no Black people here,’ ‘All Black people died during the yellow fever epidemic,’ or ‘There was no slavery in Argentina.’ In present days, [the narrative is] ‘There’s no racism because there are no Black people.’ This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Our Black population, and in a very similar way our indigenous population, was erased from education and history books. [They were] uncounted in the census for centuries, and their cultural contributions were overlooked. Whitewashing history has happened throughout the Americas. [However,] Argentina has it easier because the population has been lightened, due to massive European immigration from the 1850s to 1940s.
Public policies benefited European immigrants who wanted to come to this new republic. Six million Europeans arrived, [along with] the million and a half Spanish, Indigenous and Black [people] already living in the territory. As a result, many Afro-descendants are white or have light skin. Most of them don’t know their ancestry because of the denial in our society and even inside families.
The vision of a white European country is still very much ingrained in our collective consciousness. [However,] the descendants of Africans who were brought to these lands by force are resilient and guarded their memory and traditions with a lot of effort.
TN: What can travelers expect to see during the Afro-Argentine culture tour?
JR: The 3-hour walk [visits] San Telmo, one of the oldest neighborhoods of Buenos Aires that still has houses from the 1700s. San Telmo has a lot of Black culture. Many groups of Candombe (an Afro-Argentine/Afro-Uruguayan rhythm) play on the streets and rehearse in the squares every weekend.
We visit the first house rented by a Black man in the city [and] a church with a memorial for the victims of the yellow fever epidemic. [The tour also includes] an old tenement turned into a gallery, the Maria Remedios del Valle Mural, a restaurant owned by people from the Cape Verdean Community and a park with many layers of history. [The site] now houses the National Historical Museum, where you can see artifacts from our Black History that we convinced the museum to display.
The expanded experience of this tour is the first-ever Afrocentric trip, designed by Lunfarda Travel. It includes lunch at the Cape Verdean Community Center, the screening of the documentary ‘Maria Presente’ with the production team and activists, a Candombe siting/workshop, a collage workshop with Afro-Argentine artist Kilava and a performance workshop with Afro Feminist Arts Collective Kukily. [We also visit] other formerly whitewashed neighborhoods of Buenos Aires with an Afrocentric view.
TN: Can you share a few aspects of Afro-Argentine culture and history that might surprise visitors?
JR: Some of the most distinctive elements of Argentine culture have roots in the history of Black people. We have a Black Mother of the Nation [and] half of the army of our Independence wars were Indigenous and Black.
‘Tango’ is actually an African word that means ‘place of dancing.’ Primitive tango was an Afro-beat. [It] also originated the Candombe, the Milonga (two other folklore rhythms of Argentina) and the Murga that is played in our Carnivals.
The Asado, our barbecue, is [also] such a trademark of our culture. Its origins [derive from] enslaved people who grabbed parts of the cow that were thrown out.
TN: Outside of the tour itself, what impact does this tour have on Black people and businesses in Buenos Aires?
JR: The history has to be told in first person by the people who experience it. That’s why all our guides are Afro-descendants. We [also] collaborate with Black businesses, artists and entrepreneurs to bring a plural vision to how we showcase Black history.
We stop by El Patio de Cabo Verde. This café and restaurant is owned by a member of the Cape Verdean community. Kilava, an Afro-Argentine visual artist, has been a long-time collaborator of Lunfarda. [They have] worked on many projects [with us], such as the Mural for Maria Remedios del Valle and running a collage workshop centered around the shared experiences of the Black diaspora. Kukily Collective also [does] a performance workshop called ‘Negra, Negra, Negra Soy,’ where memory and identity are shared in a safe community space.
Lunfarda’s office also has a shop where artists of the collective showcase their work. We want to expand this project so travelers can have more access to Black art. The profits of the tour also are destined to fund free tours for Black kids and their families. [We also aim to] support causes like the first Afro-LGBT+ float at the Buenos Aires Pride March.
This article has been edited and condensed for clarity.
RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment
In the realm of operatic innovation, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Anthony Davis stands as a trailblazer. His groundbreaking opera, “X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X,” which initially premiered in 1986, has finally found its place on the illustrious stage of the Metropolitan Opera. This production lands Davis as only the second Black composer to have their work presented by the premier opera house.
The Met’s latest staging, under the direction of Tony-nominated Robert O’Hara, takes a daring leap, envisioning Malcolm X as an ordinary man whose story transcends the constraints of time and space. A stellar cast, featuring the remarkable baritone Will Liverman as Malcolm X, soprano Leah Hawkins as his mother Louise, mezzo-soprano Raehann Bryce-Davis as his sister Ella, bass-baritone Michael Sumuel as his brother Reginald, and tenor Victor Ryan Robertson as Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad, brings the operatic retelling to vivid life.
Davis revealed that a significant portion of the opera’s backstory originates from a rather unconventional source, as the play infuses an Afro-futuristic twist.. “A lot of the backstory of the opera and Malcolm’s life comes from a spaceship,” Davis said. He elaborated, “We initially see Malcolm like an everyman, and the spaceship projects all the information and details of Malcolm’s life.”
Distinguishing this production from the original 1986 rendition, Davis emphasized the shift from spare and stark aesthetics to an Afrofuturistic perspective. “It’s about Malcolm’s legacy, not just his past story but what his legacy means to us today and in the future. That’s really what’s remarkable about this production,” he said.
One standout element for Davis was the incorporation of dance, masterfully choreographed by Ricky Tripp. The 12 dancers play a crucial role in interpreting the psychological torment and inner thoughts of the characters, especially during intense moments like the riots in Boston and Malcolm’s pilgrimage to Mecca.
Davis noted the production’s relevance to contemporary issues, such as police brutality, which is seamlessly woven into the narrative.
“The opera is also a lot about Malcolm’s spiritual evolution, his transformation that takes place over each chapter,” Davis reflected, tracing Malcolm’s journey from Malcolm Little to Detroit Redd and ultimately to Malcolm X, concluding with his pilgrimage to Mecca in 1964 as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.
As the opera unfolds, audiences can expect a poignant exploration of Malcolm’s spiritual growth and the stark contrast between dynamic dance sequences, like the riots in Boston, and moments of stillness during Malcolm’s pilgrimage in Mecca. Davis hopes the audience will be able to connect emotionally with these contrasting elements and reflect on the broader themes presented in the opera.
For national audiences who plan on attending the performance at a local theater, they are in for an immersive cinematic experience with the HD streaming of the Metropolitan Opera House’s production of “X: The Life & Times of Malcolm X.” The high-definition streaming delivers the powerful narrative of Malcolm X’s life with unparalleled clarity and detail.
Viewers can expect a visual feast as every nuance of the production, from the intricate set designs to the expressive performances, is captured in stunning high definition. The vivid colors, dynamic lighting, and meticulous costumes are showcased with exceptional precision, allowing audiences to feel the energy and authenticity of the live performance.
Davis encourages audiences to “be open to a new kind of artistic expression that has music reflecting history from the 1940s to the 1960s and beyond.”
The HD streaming technology enhances the auditory experience as well, ensuring that every note of the powerful musical score and every nuanced line of dialogue is delivered with crystal-clear precision. The advanced audio quality contributes to a sense of being right in the heart of the performance, creating a connection between the audience and the profound story of Malcolm X.
Whether viewers are seasoned opera enthusiasts or newcomers to the genre, the HD streaming of “X: The Life & Times of Malcolm X” at the Metropolitan Opera House promises a transformative and visually captivating experience that transcends the traditional boundaries of cinema. Audiences will be transported into the heart of this iconic production, immersing themselves in the life and legacy of Malcolm X like never before.
The production’s premiere on Nov. 18 was, indeed, a surreal experience. Angela Bassett hosted the debut, and conducted interviews with the cast, including Davis, during the intermission.
The venue itself added to the transformative experience. Stepping into the Metropolitan Opera House for the first time is like entering a realm where art and grandeur collide. Ascending the regal staircase, adorned with plush red carpeting and golden railings, builds a sense of anticipation and offers a glimpse of what lies ahead. The opulent surroundings, from the glittering chandeliers overhead to the richly decorated walls, evoke a feeling of stepping into a bygone era of elegance.
The vast auditorium stunned with its sheer scale, while the hushed whispers of fellow patrons created an atmosphere of shared excitement. As the lights dim, a collective hush descends, and the curtain rises to reveal a stage bathed in an otherworldly glow of a spaceship.
The orchestra, positioned in the pit below, begins to play, and the sound fills the auditorium with a richness and depth that is unexpected. The overture, a majestic prelude, heightens the sense of anticipation, and palpable energy stirs the air. This energy was heightened by a full cast of African- American artists who took to the stage from beginning to end.
As the performers took the stage in their costumes, true to each era from the 1940s to the 1960s, one is immediately and continuously drawn into the story. The power of their voices resonates through the hall. The elaborate sets, the sweeping melodies, and the dynamic interplay of light and shadow create a visual and auditory feast that sweeps away attendees into the narrative.
As the final notes of the opera reverberate, the entire theater turns blood red as Macolm X is assassinated on stage. The curtain falls, and the applause, thunderous and heartfelt, fills the auditorium.
“X: The Life & Times of Malcolm X,” at the Metropolitan Opera House is truly more than a performance; it’s a journey into a world of beauty, emotion and artistic mastery.
In closing, Davis urged those who plan on attending a showing to expect “new musical expressions and plan to hear something that we’ve never experienced before.”
“X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X” runs through Dec. 2 at Metropolitan Opera House. Check your local theaters for showtimes to this invitation into a revolutionary fusion of music, history and futuristic storytelling that promises to leave an indelible mark on the world of opera.
RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment
The Blue Lotus Artists’ Collective, devoted to Black artists, finally has its first official show. And the artists they have brought in are stellar: the widely celebrated Jacob Lawrence and the multi-talented Nikesha Breeze.
Both of them have created art around the African American experience. Lawrence (1917-2000) had a prolific career starting in the 1930s, with exhibits in the United States, Europe and Africa. For the Blue Lotus opening, his dramatic “Legacy of John Brown” tells the story of Brown’s violent insurrection against slavery in a series of 21 silk screen prints.
Breeze recently has created a massive piece for the soon-to-open Freedom Monument Sculpture Park in Montgomery, Alabama — 108 death masks, cast in bronze, to honor African lives lost in the slave trade. Gallery director Laura Pendleton-Miller said Breeze, “is ready for a breakout.” For the exhibition, Breeze has brought her piece, “Within this Skin,” a powerful installation with portraits of enslaved men, women and children, painted on large wooden panels hanging from the ceiling.
Breeze has been painting for seven years.
“I am not trained as a visual artist,” she said, “but I performed for over 20 years as a dancer.”
In 2016, she began to study her ancestral history and turned to painting. She had never drawn a picture, never even picked up a paintbrush. She found some old wooden doors that look like they could be from a slave cabin and pulled them into her house. On the first day she started painting, she had the feeling that an ancestor was watching. Breeze looked at the women and promised her that “there’s more to your story.”
Each of the panels has layers and layers of paint, cracked and chipped in places, so the backgrounds look like tree bark, the figures set in a forest. The “Grandfather” is a portrait of a white-haired old slave who has worked all his life. He has a bruise near his eye, his chest is bare, his pants in tatters. With all his troubles, still he has a kindly face. Breeze said she “is honoring these strong, beautiful Black men…who labor so hard and have been beaten and humiliated.”
In another painting, a woman named “Dinah,” shows her anger in a world where Black women were too often raped. She’s tall, with thick black hair and a defiant look on her face. She wears a white shift, pulling it down to cover her body from the gaze of predatory men. Breeze said, “the way Dinah is closing her legs, she has resistance and power.”
“Grandmother” is a midwife, who cares for laboring mothers so often that their blood stains her arms from wrists to elbows.
One of the most searing images is of a teenaged boy, the victim of a lynching, left alone, hanging from a tree in a dark forest. The boy’s yellow jacket is too big, showing how young he is. Another piece nearby in the gallery is a plank with a legion of haunting Ku Klux Klansmen, threatening still another Black child. He’s in the foreground, naked and defenseless.
In “The Boys,” young children crouch together, waiting for their future. Pendleton-Miller said, this “is a particularly impactful piece. It shows the innocence of the children, making you wonder how anybody could do the things to them that were done to boys their age in slavery.”
Blue Lotus is lucky to have been able to bring “Legacy of John Brown” to Tucson. The UA Museum of Art owns one of Jacob Lawrence’s paintings, “The 1920s…The Migrants Arrive and Cast their Ballots,” but this may be the first large exhibition of his work to come to the Old Pueblo.
Lawrence was an extraordinary artist. He was born in Atlantic City in 1917 of parents who migrated from the South. When his mother moved the children to Harlem, he started arts classes after school at the Utopia Children’s House. At the ripe old age of 15, he was invited to study at the WPA-funded Harlem Art Workshop, where he met luminaries of the Harlem Renaissance. Starting when he was 20, Lawrence built an astonishing body of work on historic Black men and women at a pace that defies belief. These works told the stories of Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass and Toussaint L’Ouverture.
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john brown no. 20, by artist Jacob Lawrence, is one in a series about the life of abolitionist John Brown.
In 1941, “The Migration of the American Negro,” was so sought after that the Museum of Modern Art and the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., each vied for his whole series. They finally agreed to split the 60 paintings and Lawrence became the first African American painter in MOMA’s permanent collection.
Just before completing “The Migration” series, Lawrence began his “Legend of John Brown.” This piece tells the extraordinary true story of a white man who was going to do whatever he could to end slavery.
Lawrence made 22 remarkable paintings and he wrote lengthy captions for each one. The way to see the show is to follow the pictures in order and read the text as you go. The colors and compositions throughout are characteristic of Lawrence’s larger body of work: pure color, little fine detail, abstract but also figurative.
The story begins with an image of Jesus on the cross, with Brown at his feet: “No.1: John Brown had a fanatical belief that he was chosen by God to overthrow Black slavery in America.” It ends with Brown on the gallows: “No. 22: John Brown was found ‘Guilty of treason and murder in the first degree and was hanged in Charles Town, Virginia on Dec. 2, 1859.’”
In between, Lawrence paints and writes of the key events in Brown’s movement. Brown went with his sons in 1855 to fight in Kansas during a bloody struggle over slaveholding. In May, they killed five men. Lawrence painted the massacre, No. 10, in woeful colors of brown and black.
Three years later, Brown was in Canada recruiting rebels for a raid on Harper’s Ferry. In No. 17, 11 men stand in long coats in the cold ready to fight and perhaps to die. The battle at Harper’s Ferry is shown in No. 20. The figures look like medieval knights with shields below a dark cloudy sky. At long last, Brown is captured. In No. 21, he’s shown in defeat, seated with a crucifix in his hands, long white hair covering his face. In the final picture, No. 22, he’s dead, hanging from a rope, a long thin man against a clear blue sky, almost as if he was ascending to heaven.
After serving in the Coast Guard during World War II, Lawrence was invited by Josef Albers to teach at the legendary Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Albers was a visual artist who influenced Lawrence’s use of bold primary colors and simple compositions. Then, in the 1960s, he spent time in Nigeria.
In 1971, Lawrence moved on to teach art at the University of Washington. He was busy with new work on the civil rights movement and other subjects, but in 1977 “Legend of John Brown” came back to him. The original gouache paintings, held by the Detroit Institute of Arts, were now too fragile to be shown. Lawrence took on a commission to remake the series on silk screen prints, which can now be seen at several museums around the country. The Permanent Collection of the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art in Altoona, Pennsylvania has lent their prints to Blue Lotus for this show.
Later in Lawrence’s life, he was asked his thoughts about John Brown. “He was a very special person in our history,” he said, and I don’t think he gets credit for that… He was just inspiring. I had never done anything prior to that time of non-black figure. He gave his life for what he believed in.”
RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment
According to the publication, “the 2023 Power List was determined by four main metrics: money, media, impact and spheres of influence.” The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women list features women who have had an impact on policies, products and political fights, globally.
The Forbes comes at a time when the ‘Halo’ hitmaker is basking in the glory of the successful opening of her concert documentary, “Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé.” The film made a strong debut, claiming the top spot in North America with an impressive $11.5 million on its opening night and a total weekend gross of $21 million. AMC reported that this marked the first time in twenty years that a film had surpassed the $20 million mark in its opening weekend after Thanksgiving. Forbes highlighted Beyoncé’s ascent in its rankings, noting that she moved from the 80th spot in 2022 to the 36th spot. While this accomplishment is noteworthy, some social media users found these rankings surprisingly low considering Beyoncé’s status as one of the most successful entertainers of all time, spanning decades.
The film’s success stands as just one of the milestones in an exceptionally triumphant year for Queen Bey.
2023 had been an incredible year for the ‘Beautiful Liar’ singer. In February, Beyoncé became the most decorated artist in Grammy history after bagging 32 awards.Soon after, the singer announced the Renaissance World Tour in support of her seventh studio album at the top of 2023.The tour, consisting of 56 stops, commenced on May 10 in Stockholm, Sweden, and concluded with the final show in Kansas City, Missouri, on Oct. 1.Earning widespread acclaim, the tour attracted a staggering 2.7 million fans globally and achieved a remarkable gross of $579.8 million. This financial achievement marked the highest ever by a Black artist and triggered a notable resurgence in chrome-themed content across social media platforms and the U.S. economy.
Beyoncé’s songs, with their infectious appeal, frequently went viral on TikTok, fueling trends such as dances to “Cuff It” and the widely recognized “Diva” challenge.
The impact of the tour extended beyond the entertainment sphere, as fans worldwide invested significantly in flights, hotels, tickets, and elaborate metallic outfits to attend her shows. The New York Times estimated, before the tour’s conclusion, that it would contribute approximately $4.5 billion to the U.S. economy.
Beyoncé’s album not only holds economic significance but also boasts cultural impact. Dedicated to her late gay Uncle Jonny, who succumbed to AIDS complications, the album stands as a profound tribute to the LGBTQ+ community and ballroom culture.
In a deliberate effort to showcase the talents of prominent members from these communities, Beyoncé elevated their voices and contributions to the forefront.
Beyond her musical endeavors, Beyoncé expanded her brand with collections from her athleisure line Ivy Park and the introduction of a new fragrance, Cé Noir. The multi-talented artist has also hinted at an upcoming hair care line, carrying on her mother’s legacy in the salon industry. Tina Knowles, Beyoncé’s mother, previously owned a salon, and Beyoncé fondly reminisces about the culture surrounding hair salons.
While Beyoncé shows no signs of slowing down, her “Renaissance” film captures her acknowledgment of the beauty in celebrating her numerous accomplishments, as she confidently declares, “I have nothing to prove to anyone at this point.”
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RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment
With billions of active users worldwide, Instagram stands out among the many social media apps that rule the internet.
For many celebrities, it has become the go-to platform to promote business ventures, share milestones, announce big life events like a pregnancy or a divorce, and in general, share glimpses of their day-to-day lives.
We’ve compiled the top 10 most-followed celebrities’ Instagram accounts of 2023 for you, with the help of Forbes – guess who takes the crown?
10. Kendall Jenner – 294 million followers
With 294 million followers, Jenner is easily the most-followed model on Instagram.
5. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – 392 millionfollowers
Actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson takes fifth place on our list with 392 million followers. His Instagram feed often features the former pro-wrestler’s exercise regime.
4. Kylie Jenner – 399 million followers
The younger Jenner places high on the list with nearly 400 million followers on the platform. The beauty mogul and social media influencer often features her make-up brand Kylie Cosmetics and her recently launched clothing brand Khy.
Four-time Tony Award-winning musical MJ The Musical is making its way to Australia, locking in an exclusive run at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre in February 2025.
MJ The Musical was created by Director/Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage as it centres itself around the making of Michael Jackson’s 1992 Dangerous World Tour.
A synopsis notes that MJ The Musical goes beyond the distinctive dance moves and singing style and promises a rare look into the mind of Michael Jackson. You can sign up for the MJ The Musical Australia waitlist here to access pre-sale tickets.
MJ The Musical was initially supposed to premiere on Broadway in mid-2020, but that was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. MJ The Musical opened at the Neil Simon Theatre on 1 February 2022, with previews beginning on 6 December to mixed reviews from critics, but is a proven box office hit.
By November 2023, MJ The Musical had grossed $150.6 million at the box office, pulling in over a million punters for its showings.
Earlier this year, Madonna shared that she was moved to tears by the musical production, tagging star Myles Frost and writing, “Thank You for your extraordinary performance as Michael Jackson. You made me cry”.
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You can check out a teaser video for MJ The Musical below.
Director Antoine Fuqua said about working with Jaafar, “It’s incredibly exciting to watch Jaafar bring Michael to life. There was such a spiritual connection when I first met Jaafar, who has a natural ability to emulate Michael and such a great chemistry with the camera.”
Fuqua added on the influence of Michael Jackson, “For me, there is no artist with the power, the charisma, and the sheer musical genius of Michael Jackson. I was influenced to make music videos by watching his work – the first Black artist to play in heavy rotation on MTV. His music and those images are part of my worldview, and the chance to tell his story on the screen alongside his music was irresistible.”
RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment
It’s almost time again for me to pack my bags and head to Park City, Utah, for the 2024 edition of the Sundance Film Festival. The last few years have been challenging for the fest, with the 2021 and 2022 editions only being online due to the pandemic. The 2023 edition was a hybrid version that sported a few high-profile debuts, including A24’s horror hit Talk to Me, but overall was a bit of a modest year in terms of stuff that broke out. However, 2024 seems to be a high-end year for the fest, with tons of big stars on the way to the festival, including Pedro Pascal, Kristen Stewart (there with two movies), Sebastian Stan, Woody Harrelson and many more.
It’s always interesting to note the trend in storytelling at this famous indie fest. In recent years, the pandemic weighed highly on the fest, with many films acknowledging the toll it took, literally or metaphorically. AI seems to be on everyone’s mind this year, with many documentaries focused on the subject.
However, after lacking star power over the last few years, some big names seem set to descend on Park City. Sebastian Stan will be there with his entry into the Premiere category, A Different Man, which comes from A24 and follows an actor that radically changes his appearance. Kristen Stewart also has an A24 movie playing in the midnight section, Love Lies Bleeding, in which she plays a reclusive gym owner from a family of criminals. She’s also in a competition entry called Love Me, set after humanity’s extinction and co-stars Steven Yeun. Pedro Pascal is headlining a star-studded movie called Freaky Tales from Captain Marvel directors Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, plus there are documentaries on Christopher Reeve, Devo and many other high-profile selections.
Here’s the full list:
U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION
The U.S. Dramatic Competition offers Festivalgoers a first look at the world premieres of groundbreaking new voices in American independent film. Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include Fair Play, Nanny, CODA, Passing, Minari, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, The Farewell, Clemency, Eighth Grade, and Sorry to Bother You.
Between the Temples/ U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Nathan Silver, Screenwriter: C. Mason Wells, Producers: Tim Headington, Theresa Steele Page, Nate Kamiya, Adam Kersh, Taylor Hess) — A cantor in a crisis of faith finds his world turned upside down when his grade school music teacher reenters his life as his new adult bat mitzvah student. Cast: Jason Schwartzman, Carol Kane, Dolly de Leon, Caroline Aaron, Robert Smigel, Madeline Weinstein. World Premiere. Available online for Public.
Dìdi (弟弟) / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Sean Wang, Producers: Carlos López Estrada, Josh Peters, Valerie Bush) — In 2008, during the last month of summer before high school begins, an impressionable 13-year-old Taiwanese American boy learns what his family can’t teach him: how to skate, how to flirt, and how to love your mom. Cast: Izaac Wang, Joan Chen, Shirley Chen, Chang Li Hua. World Premiere. Available online for Public.
Exhibiting Forgiveness/ U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Titus Kaphar, Producers: Stephanie Allain, Derek Cianfrance, Jamie Patricof, Sean Cotton) — 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. Cast: André Holland, John Earl Jelks, Andra Day, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor. World Premiere. Available online for Public.
Good One / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: India Donaldson, Producers: Diana Irvine, Graham Mason, Wilson Cameron) — On a weekend backpacking trip in the Catskills, 17-year-old Sam contends with the competing egos of her father and his oldest friend. Cast: Lily Collias, James Le Gros, Danny McCarthy. World Premiere. Available online for Public.
In The Summers/ U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Alessandra Lacorazza, Producers: Alexander Dinelaris, Rob Quadrino, Fernando Rodriguez-Vila, Lynette Coll, Sergio Lira, Cristóbal Güell) — On a journey that spans across the formative years of their lives, two sisters navigate their loving but volatile father during their yearly summer visits to his home in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Cast: René Pérez Joglar, Sasha Calle, Lío Mehiel, Leslie Grace, Emma Ramos, Sharlene Cruz. World Premiere. Available online for Public.
Love Me / U.S.A. (Directors and Screenwriters: Sam Zuchero, Andy Zuchero, Producers: Kevin Rowe, Luca Borghese, Ben Howe, Shivani Rawat, Julie Goldstein) — Long after humanity’s extinction, a buoy and a satellite meet online and fall in love. Cast: Kristen Stewart, Steven Yeun. World Premiere. Available online for Public.
Ponyboi / U.S.A. (Director: Esteban Arango, Screenwriter: River Gallo, Producers: Mark Ankner, River Gallo, Adel “Future” Nur, Trevor Wall) —Unfolding over the course of Valentine’s Day in New Jersey, a young intersex sex worker must run from the mob after a drug deal goes sideways, forcing him to confront his past. Cast: River Gallo, Dylan O’Brien, Victoria Pedretti, Murray Bartlett, Indya Moore. World Premiere. Available online for Public.
A Real Pain / U.S.A., Poland (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Jesse Eisenberg, Producers: Dave McCary, Ali Herting, Emma Stone, Jennifer Semler, Ewa Puszczyńska) — Mismatched cousins David and Benji reunite for a tour through Poland to honor their beloved grandmother. The adventure takes a turn when the pair’s old tensions resurface against the backdrop of their family history. Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Kieran Culkin, Will Sharpe, Jennifer Grey, Kurt Egyiawan. World Premiere. Available online for Public.
Stress Positions/ U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Theda Hammel, Producers: Brad Becker-Parton, John Early, Stephanie Roush, Allie Jane Compton, Greg Nobile) — Terry Goon is keeping strict quarantine in his ex-husband’s Brooklyn brownstone while caring for his nephew — a 19-year-old model from Morocco named Bahlul — bedridden in a full leg cast after an electric scooter accident. Unfortunately for Terry, everyone in his life wants to meet the model. Cast: John Early, Qaher Harhash, Theda Hammel, Amy Zimmer, Faheem Ali, John Roberts. World Premiere. Available online for Public.
Suncoast / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Laura Chinn, Producers: Jeremy Plager, Francesca Silvestri, Kevin Chinoy, Oly Obst) — 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. Cast: Laura Linney, Woody Harrelson, Nico Parker. World Premiere. Available online for Public.
This showcase of world premieres presents highly anticipated films on a variety of subjects, in both fiction and nonfiction. Fiction films that have screened in Premieres include Past Lives, Passages, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, Promising Young Woman, Kajillionaire,The Report, Late Night, and The Big Sick. Past documentary films include Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, Invisible Beauty, The Dissident, Lucy and Desi, On the Record, and Miss Americana.
The American Society of Magical Negroes / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Kobi Libii, Producers: Julia Lebedev, Eddie Vaisman, Angel Lopez) — 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. Cast: Justice Smith, David Alan Grier, An-Li Bogan, Drew Tarver, Rupert Friend, Nicole Byer. World Premiere. Fiction.
And So It Begins/ U.S.A., Philippines (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Ramona S. Diaz) — Amidst the traditional pomp and circumstance of Filipino elections, a quirky people’s movement rises to defend the nation against deepening threats to truth and democracy. In a collective act of joy as a form of resistance, hope flickers against the backdrop of increasing autocracy. World Premiere. Documentary. Available online for Public.
DEVO/ U.K., U.S.A. (Director: Chris Smith, Producers: Chris Holmes, Anita Greenspan, Danny Gabai) — Born in response to the Kent State massacre, new wave band Devo took their concept of “de-evolution” from cult following to near–rock star status with groundbreaking 1980 hit “Whip It” while preaching an urgent social commentary. World Premiere. Documentary.
A Different Man/ U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Aaron Schimberg, Producers: Christine Vachon, Vanessa McDonnell, Gabriel Mayers) — Aspiring actor Edward undergoes a radical medical procedure to drastically transform his appearance. But his new dream face quickly turns into a nightmare, as he loses out on the role he was born to play and becomes obsessed with reclaiming what was lost. Cast: Sebastian Stan, Renate Reinsve, Adam Pearson. World Premiere. Fiction.
Freaky Tales / U.S.A. (Directors, Screenwriters, and Producers: Ryan Fleck, Anna Boden, Producers: Poppy Hanks, Jelani Johnson) — In 1987 Oakland, a mysterious force guides The Town’s underdogs in four interconnected tales: Teen punks defend their turf against Nazi skinheads, a rap duo battles for hip-hop immortality, a weary henchman gets a shot at redemption, and an NBA All-Star settles the score. Basically another day in the Bay. Cast: Pedro Pascal, Jay Ellis, Normani Kordei Hamilton, Dominique Thorne, Ben Mendelsohn, Ji-Young Yoo. World Premiere. Fiction.
Ghostlight / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Kelly O’Sullivan, Director and Producer: Alex Thompson, Producers: Pierce Cravens, Chelsea Krant, Ian Keiser, Eddie Linker, Alex Wilson) — When a construction worker unexpectedly joins a local theater’s production of Romeo and Juliet, the drama onstage starts to mirror his own life. Cast: Keith Kupferer, Dolly de Leon, Katherine Mallen Kupferer, Tara Mallen. World Premiere. Fiction.
Girls State/ U.S.A. (Directors and Producers: Amanda McBaine, Jesse Moss) — Teenage girls from wildly different backgrounds across Missouri navigate a week-long immersive experiment in American democracy, build a government from the ground up, and reimagine what it means to govern. World Premiere. Documentary.
Look Into My Eyes/ U.S.A. (Director and Producer: Lana Wilson, Producer: Kyle Martin) — A group of New York City psychics conduct deeply intimate readings for their clients, revealing a kaleidoscope of loneliness, connection, and healing. World Premiere. Documentary.
Luther: Never Too Much/ U.S.A. (Director: Dawn Porter, Producers: Trish D Chetty, Ged Doherty, Jamie Foxx, Datari Turner, Leah Smith) — 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. World Premiere. Documentary.
My Old Ass/ U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Megan Park, Producers: Tom Ackerley, Margot Robbie, Josey McNamara, Steven Rales) — The summer before college, bright-yet-irreverent Elliott comes face-to-face with her older self during a mushroom trip. The encounter spurs a funny and heartfelt journey of self-discovery and first love as Elliott prepares to leave her childhood home. Cast: Maisy Stella, Percy Hynes White, Maddie Ziegler, Kerrice Brooks, Aubrey Plaza. World Premiere. Fiction.
The Outrun/ U.K., Germany (Director and Screenwriter: Nora Fingscheidt, Screenwriter: Amy Liptrot, Producers: Sarah Brocklehurst, Dominic Norris, Jack Lowden, Saoirse Ronan) — After living life on the edge in London, Rona attempts to come to terms with her troubled past. She returns to the wild beauty of Scotland’s Orkney Islands — where she grew up — hoping to heal. Adapted from the bestselling memoir by Amy Liptrot. Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Paapa Essiedu, Stephen Dillane, Saskia Reeves. World Premiere. Fiction.
Power/ U.S.A. (Director and Producer: Yance Ford, Producers: Sweta Vohra, Jess Devaney, Netsanet Negussie) — Driven to maintain social order, policing in the United States has exploded in scope and scale over hundreds of years. Now, American policing embodies one word: power. World Premiere. Documentary.
Presence / U.S.A. (Director: Steven Soderbergh, Screenwriter: David Koepp, Producers: Julie M. Anderson, Ken Meyer) — A family moves into a suburban house and becomes convinced they’re not alone. Cast: Lucy Liu, Chris Sullivan, Callina Liang, Julia Fox, Eddy Maday, West Mulholland. World Premiere. Fiction.
Rob Peace / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Producers: Antoine Fuqua, Rebecca Hobbs, Kat Samick, Jeffrey Soros, Andrea Calderwood, Alex Kurtzman.) — 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. Cast: Jay Will, Mary J. Blige, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Camila Cabello, Michael Kelly, Mare Winningham. World Premiere. Fiction. Available online for Public.
Sasquatch Sunset / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: David Zellner, Director and Producer: Nathan Zellner, Producers: Lars Knudsen, Tyler Campellone, George Rush, Jesse Eisenberg) — A year in the life of a singular family. Cast: Riley Keough, Jesse Eisenberg, Christophe Zajac-Denek, Nathan Zellner. World Premiere. Fiction.
Sue Bird: In The Clutch/ U.S.A. (Director and Producer: Sarah Dowland, Producers: Emily Singer Chapman, Svetlana Zill) — In her 21-year professional career, WNBA basketball legend Sue Bird has won five Olympic gold medals and become the most successful point guard to ever play the game. Alongside her fiancée, U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe, Sue confronts her next challenge: retiring from the only life she’s ever known. World Premiere. Documentary.
Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story/ U.K., U.S.A. (Director and Producer: Ian Bonhôte, Director and Screenwriter: Peter Ettedgui, Producers: Lizzie Gillett, Robert Ford) — Never-before-seen home movies and extraordinary personal archives reveal how Christopher Reeve went from unknown actor to iconic movie star as the ultimate screen superhero. He learned the true meaning of heroism as an activist after suffering a tragic accident that left him quadriplegic and dependent on a ventilator to breathe. World Premiere. Documentary. Salt Lake Opening Film
Thelma / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Josh Margolin, Producers: Zoë Worth, Chris Kaye, Nicholas Weinstock, Benjamin Simpson, Karl Spoerri, Viviana Vezzani) — When 93-year-old Thelma Post gets duped by a phone scammer pretending to be her grandson, she sets out on a treacherous quest across the city to reclaim what was taken from her. Cast: June Squibb, Fred Hechinger, Richard Roundtree, Parker Posey, Clark Gregg, Malcolm McDowell. World Premiere. Fiction. Available online for Public.
Will & Harper/ U.S.A. (Director and Producer: Josh Greenbaum, Producers: Rafael Marmor, Will Ferrell, Jessica Elbaum, Christopher Leggett) — When Will Ferrell finds out his close friend of 30 years is coming out as a trans woman, the two decide to embark on a cross-country road trip to process this new stage of their relationship in an intimate portrait of friendship, transition, and America. World Premiere. Documentary.
Winner/ U.S.A., Canada (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Susanna Fogel, Screenwriter: Kerry Howley, Producers: Amanda Phillips, Shivani Rawat, Julie Goldstein, Scott Budnick, Ameet Shukla) — Reality Winner is a brilliant young misfit from a Texas border town who finds her morals challenged while serving as an NSA contractor. A sarcastic, gun-lovin, vegan, yogi, and CrossFit fanatic, Reality is an unconventional whistleblower who ends up being prosecuted for exposing Russia’s hacking of the 2016 election. Cast: Emilia Jones, Connie Britton, Zach Galifianakis, Kathryn Newton, Danny Ramirez. World Premiere. Fiction.
From horror flicks and wild comedies to chilling thrillers and works that defy any genre, these films will keep you wide awake and on the edge of your seat. Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include Infinity Pool, Talk to Me,FRESH, Hereditary, Mandy, Relic, Assassination Nation, and The Babadook.
I Saw the TV Glow / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Jane Schoenbrun, Producers: Emma Stone, Dave McCary, Ali Herting, Sam Intili, Sarah Winshall) — 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. Cast: Justice Smith, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Ian Foreman, Helena Howard, Fred Durst, Danielle Deadwyler. World Premiere. Fiction.
In A Violent Nature / Canada (Director and Screenwriter: Chris Nash, Producers: Peter Kuplowsky, Shannon Hanmer) — The enigmatic resurrection, rampage, and retribution of an undead monster in a remote wilderness. Cast: Ry Barrett, Andrea Pavlovic, Lauren Taylor. World Premiere. Fiction.
It’s What’s Inside / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Greg Jardin, Producers: William Rosenfeld, Kate Andrews, Jason Baum, Raúl Domingo) — A pre-wedding party descends into an existential nightmare when an estranged friend shows up with a mysterious suitcase. Cast: Brittany O’Grady, James Morosini, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Gavin Leatherwood, Reina Hardesty, Nina Bloomgarden. World Premiere. Fiction.
Kidnapping Inc./ Haiti, France, Canada (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Bruno Mourral, Screenwriter and Producer: Gilbert Jr. Mirambeau, Screenwriter: Jasmuel Andri, Producers: Samuel Chauvin, Yanick Letourneau, Gaëthan Chancy) — 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. Cast: Jasmuel Andri, Rolaphton Mercure, Anabel Lopez, Ashley Laraque, Gessica Geneus, Patrick Joseph. World Premiere. Fiction.
Krazy House / Netherlands (Directors and Screenwriters: Steffen Haars, Flip van der Kuil, Producer: Maarten Swart) — When Russian workers in Bernie’s house turn out to be wanted criminals, Bernie has to man up and save his ’90s sitcom family. Cast: Nick Frost, Alicia Silverstone, Jan Bijvoet, Gaite Jansen, Walt Klink, Kevin Connolly. World Premiere. Fiction. Available online for Public.
Love Lies Bleeding / U.S.A., U.K. (Director and Screenwriter: Rose Glass, Producers: Andrea Cornwell, Oliver Kassman — Reclusive gym manager Lou falls hard for Jackie, an ambitious bodybuilder headed through town to Las Vegas in pursuit of her dream. But their love ignites violence, pulling them deep into the web of Lou’s criminal family. Cast: Kristen Stewart, Katy O’Brian, Ed Harris, Dave Franco, Jena Malone, Anna Baryshnikov. World Premiere. Fiction.
The Moogai / Australia (Director and Screenwriter: Jon Bell, Producers: Kristina Ceyton, Samantha Jennings, Mitchell Stanley) — A young Aboriginal couple bring home their second baby. What should be a joyous time takes a sinister turn as the mother starts seeing a malevolent spirit she is convinced is trying to take her baby. Cast: Shari Sebbens, Meyne Wyatt, Tessa Rose, Jahdeana Mary, Clarence Ryan, Bella Heathcote. World Premiere. Fiction.
Your Monster/ U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Caroline Lindy, Producers: Kayla Foster, Shannon Reilly, Melanie Donkers, Kira Carstensen) — After her life falls apart, soft-spoken actress Laura Franco finds her voice again when she meets a terrifying, yet weirdly charming, monster living in her closet. Cast: Melissa Barrera, Tommy Dewey, Meghann Fahy, Edmund Donovan, Kayla Foster. World Premiere. Fiction.
RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment
Solidifying the lineup for the Sundance Film Festival, which is now in its 40th year, is practically a yearlong endeavor.
A team of more than a dozen festival programmers begin actively tracking films as early as February or March, reaching out to film festivals, producers and sales companies to get a sense of what’s on the horizon. With the aid of consultants, they watch movies — a lot of movies — and spend several hours a week talking about what they watched.
Eventually, gradually, the lineup falls into place.
“We arrive at this place where we feel like there’s a balanced program and it’s saying a lot of different things about the world we live in and who’s making films and the stories that they’re telling,” John Nein, who has been a Sundance Film Festival programmer for 20 years, told the Deseret News on a Zoom call. “And it just feels right.”
The Sundance Film Festival received a record number of submissions this year: 17,435. Of those entries, 4,400 were feature-length films, and over half of those submissions were international — a statistic that illustrates the wide reach of the festival headquartered in Park City, Utah.
On Wednesday, the festival revealed its 2024 lineup, which includes 82 feature films and eight episodic programs. The celebrity list will likely generate a lot of excitement for festivalgoers — Pedro Pascal, Kristen Stewart, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Jesse Eisenberg, Will Ferrell, Oprah and Woody Harrelson, to name a few.
The festival — which runs in Park City and Salt Lake City from Jan. 18-28 (there will be an online presence during the latter half) — will also see the return of several established writers and directors, including “School of Rock” director Richard Linklater; Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, the filmmaking duo behind “Captain Marvel”; and Steven Soderbergh, director of “Erin Brockovich” and the “Ocean’s” trilogy.
But what really excites Nein about the upcoming program is the fact that 40 of the 101 feature film directors who made the cut are first-time feature filmmakers — a fitting statistic for the festival’s 40th edition.
“It’s the discovery part, the people who are going to be making movies for (the next) 40 years,” he said. “Go and try something that you don’t know.”
Here’s a brief overview of the festival lineup — including the rise of biographies and AI films, and Nein’s top five picks.
Popular themes at Sundance: Biographies, AI and more
Festival programmers don’t go after specific themes when they set out to create a lineup. But trends do naturally emerge. Lately, Nein has noticed a rise in the number of biographical films, including documentary and narrative fiction.
And that’s apparent in the festival’s lineup.
There’s “Frida,” which explores the life of renowned artist Frida Kahlo, and is told in her own words through her diary entries, letters, essays and interviews. And there’s “Luther: Never Too Much,” which features interviews from Foxx and Oprah and covers the ups and downs of Luther Vandross’ career. “Sue Bird: In the Clutch” dives into the WNBA legend’s career and recent retirement. “Devo” chronicles how the new wave band emerged out of the Kent State massacre and achieved stardom with the 1980 hit “Whip It.”
Perhaps one of the biggest draws of this season’s festival is “Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story,” which will premiere on opening night in Salt Lake City Jan. 19 and brings viewers into the late actor’s life through “never-before-seen home movies and extraordinary personal archive,” according to the film’s description.
“It’s a really beautiful portrait of this man who taught the world that a person could fly and then has this tragedy befall him but becomes a … pioneer in disability rights,” Nein said. “It’s an incredibly inspiring film.”
Nein said he’s also noticed a continuing shift in the way directors are using genre and finding different ways to tell stories. He pointed to the Australian horror film “The Moogai,” which uses a “mythical creature from indigenous lore” as a vehicle “to talk about the Stolen Generations in Australia, and the Aboriginal children who were taken from their families as part of the government’s assimilation policies.”
Festival programmers also saw a lot of entries about technology and AI. The documentary “Love Machina” shows futurists Martine and Bina Rothblatt transferring Bina’s consciousness to robot form as a way to immortalize their love. The nonfiction feature film “Eternal You” shows how “startups are using AI to create avatars that allow relatives to talk with their loved ones after they have died,” per the film’s description.
And “Love Me,” starring Kristen Stewart and Steve Yeun of “The Walking Dead” and “Minari” fame, shows a love story in a post-human world. And it’s one of many films that Nein is particularly excited about.
Sundance Festival 40th edition: The top 5 picks
With such a robust lineup, it’s nearly impossible to choose a favorite. But Nein did share five of his top picks.
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Steve Yeun.
From first-time feature film directors Sam and Andy Zuchero, the film shows a love story in a world long after humanity’s extinction. The film tells the story of a buoy and a satellite that meet online and fall in love. Nein called it “one of the bigger films in the festival.” It also earned the 2024 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize for its “outstanding depiction of science and technology in a feature film,” according to a news release.
‘The American Society of Magical Negroes’
Starring: Justice Smith, David Alan Grier, An-Li Bogan, Drew Tarver, Rupert Friend, Nicole Byer.
From comedian and first-time filmmaker Kobi Libii, “The American Society of Magical Negroes” is about a young Black artist who “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,” per the film’s description. “It is a brilliant social satire, and I think that’s very rare these days,” Nein said, adding that Libii is a “fantastic, young filmmaker.”
Starring: Pedro Pascal, Jay Ellis, Normani Kordei Hamilton, Dominique Thorne, Ben Mendelsohn, Ji-Young Yoo.
From “Captain Marvel” duo Fleck and Boden, “Freaky Tales” is a“brilliant mashup of genres,” Nein said. Set in 1987 Oakland, the film shows “a mysterious force” guiding the town’s underdogs in four interconnected stories: “Teen punks defend their turf against Nazi skinheads, a rap duo battles for hip-hop immortality, a weary henchman gets a shot at redemption, and an NBA All-Star settles the score,” per the film’s description.
Nein called the four-chapter story “mindblowingly creative” and said it has a “great cast.” He also noted that Fleck and Boden had their career start at Sundance 20 years ago with the 2004 short film “Gowanus, Brooklyn.”
Starring: Juan Jesús Varela, Yadira Pérez, Alexis Varela, Sandra Lorenzano, Jairo Hernández, Kevin Aguilar.
From directors/screenwriters/producers Astrid Rondero and Fernanda Valadez, “Sujo” tells the coming of age story of Sujo, a boy whose father has been killed in cartel violence. “It completely reframes the notion of what a story about cartel violence is,” Nein said. “It’s about a child kind of growing up and this question about to what degree is his fate determined by this past or by self-determination by who he is, by this moral character that he forges?”
“Handling the Undead” comes from director/screenwriter Thea Hvistendahl and screenwriter John Ajvide Lindqvist, who is the author of the acclaimed horror story “Let the Right One In.” But “Handling the Undead” is a “very, very different film” from ‘Let the Right One In,’” Nein said.
“It is about the undead, but in a way that you have never seen in a film before,” he said. It’s almost as if it is a drama, and a very moving human portrait of what it would mean if somebody close to you, a loved one, was reanimated. It’s creepy, but it’s actually incredibly moving. … It’s hard to come out of a pandemic and watch this movie and not reflect on the notion of how we’ve all had to come to terms with loss and grief.”
Expect more updates from the festival
Nein said people can expect more announcements — including films and screenings — in the coming days and weeks. He also hinted at a special celebration for the festival’s 40th edition, which will include showing “a film that has a very strong connection to Utah that became a cult classic.” He didn’t reveal the title, but next month does happen to mark the 20th anniversary of “Napoleon Dynamite,” which had its premiere at the Sundance Festival in 2004. But there’s also “SLC Punk,” which premiered at the festival in 1999.