More than 10 Black stories were selected for the 2023 Sundance Film Festival for the Short Films and Indie Episodic projects category.

The 2023 Festival will be held in person from Jan 19 through Jan 29 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Short films are an essential part of the Sundance Institute, as they seek to empower artists to take risks and provide new perspectives to the front of the filmmaking industry.

Giving Black filmmakers a platform where they can tell their stories to an international audience is a great step for increasing awareness on Black-produced media.

Let’s take a look at the premises from some of the featured short films. 

Mulika, by Maisha Maene, seems to toy with the concept of Afrofuturism through its plot. It involves an “afronaut” emerging from the wreckage of a spaceship in a volcanic crater of Mount Nyiragongo. He encounters people from present-day Goma in the city, and figures out how to change the future for his people.

In turn, Ourika! Presents us with a Senegalese girl enslaved by a French aristocrat, who’s awoken in a space between life and death and finds her way back to life and into liberation. This one seems to be more surreal, and centers on themes of African empowerment and freedom.

Another, We Were Meant To, portrays a world where Black men have wings and their first flight is a rite of passage. This one toys with manhood and societal barriers.

All of the films presented seem to have interesting premises, and many of them explore speculative fiction genres through African lenses.

This edition of the festival will also mark a return to in-person events, after two years of virtual-only offerings. 2022 was hosted virtually due to issues with a sudden Omicron spread.

Sundance Institute CEO Joana Vicente stated that while the virtual festival was successful, it was far from ideal. 

Regardless, expectations are high for what these filmmakers will bring to the table, or in this case, the big screen.

Short films and episodic projects provide risk-taking filmmakers with a platform where they can safely share new perspectives. 

Some of the Black filmmakers participating in these projects include Maisha Maene (Mulika), Sterling Hampton (Kylie), Catherine Hoffman (Parker), Xenia Matthews (OURIKA!), Crystal Kayiza (Rest Stop), Rashad Frett (Ricky), Tari Wariebi (We Were Meant To), Vincent Fontano (Sét Lam), Iyabo E Kwayana (By Water), Jeron Braxton (Oxytocin), and Jarred Carrillo (Vacation).

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