Before Black History Month ends, dive into the crossroads of Black and African identities with 6 curated titles from past Tribeca Festivals. In a world often fragmented by borders, it's the stories we share that bridge divides, highlighting what brings us together rather than what separates us. Faridah Gbadamosi, one of our Senior Programmers, puts it best: “Black History Month is not a vacuum but rather a call to action, and storytelling is a vital part of that.”

 

Keep reading to discover more about these remarkable Tribeca talents and their cinematic works.

 


MR. SOUL!

2018 Tribeca TV Documentary - World Premiere
Directed by Melissa Haizlip & Samuel Pollard

'MR. SOUL!' explores the period from 1968 to 1973 when the public-television variety show SOUL!, guided by the enigmatic producer and host Ellis Haizlip, became an unfiltered and uncompromising celebration of Black literature, poetry, music, and politics. In an era when these essential voices had limited avenues for national exposure, SOUL! provided a unique and improbable home for their expression.

Through the lens of this documentary, we are transported to a time when the power of media and culture converged to amplify the voices of the African American community. With participants' vivid recollections and a treasure trove of archival clips, 'MR. SOUL!' brings to life the vibrant, dynamic world of this groundbreaking television show, and reminds us of the resilience and creativity of Black artists and intellectuals who persevered against the odds to make their mark on the cultural landscape.

'MR. SOUL!' is a testament to the importance of representation, diversity, and the power of storytelling, underscoring the enduring impact of a show that provided a platform for underrepresented voices and paved the way for a more inclusive media landscape. This documentary serves as an invitation to celebrate Black History Month by delving into a critical chapter in African American culture, one that continues to inspire and resonate with audiences today.

WATCH ON PRIME VIDEO

 

MOUNTAINS

2023 US Narrative Feature Competition - World Premiere
Directed by Monica Sorelle

'Mountains' tells the story of the Xavier family, Haitian immigrants living in the vibrant city of Miami. Xavier Sr., a hardworking man employed in demolition, has a dream of buying a new house for his wife, Esperance, who works as a talented seamstress. A couple deeply rooted in their local community, through active participation in street parades, communions, and even friendly games of dominoes, Mountains’ portrayal of the family’s bond with their heritage and their community is palpable.

Their adult son, Xavier Jr., presents a contrasting perspective. A college dropout who has returned to live with his parents, Junior's experience straddles two worlds. While his parents converse in Creole, Junior predominantly responds in English, reflecting his desire to assimilate into the society he has chosen. Despite this, he secretly mines his Haitian background for material for his nightly stand-up routine, highlighting the complexity of his cultural identity.

'Mountains' sensitively portrays these different generational experiences, shedding light on the challenges each family member faces. Xavier Sr. grapples with the harsh realities of his job and the encroaching gentrification that threatens to erode their community. Junior, on the other hand, navigates the intricate web of dual identities, attempting to fit into both his cultural heritage and the White society he longs to belong to, all while carrying the weight of his father's high expectations. This film serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of understanding and celebrating the complexities of cultural identity, making it a recommended watch for Black History Month. To learn more about Mountains, click the link below, or follow director Monica Sorelle on Instagram.

LEARN MORE ABOUT MOUNTAINS

 

HARD WORLD FOR SMALL THINGS

2016 Virtual Arcade - New York Premiere
Directed by Janicza Bravo

Award-winning film and theater director Janicza Bravo steps into the world of VR with a profound exploration of lives profoundly impacted by a single tragedy in Los Angeles. Drawing from a real-life experience, Bravo collaborates with studio WEVR to craft a remarkably powerful narrative that ultimately leads to a devastating conclusion.

'Hard World for Small Things' made its debut at Sundance and represents Bravo's first foray into virtual reality filmmaking. This live-action short takes viewers on what initially appears to be an ordinary ride among friends to a neighborhood deli but unfolds into a shocking portrayal of police violence in Los Angeles.

The film masterfully brings to life the sounds, humor, and warmth that surround the young life of a man portrayed by LaKeith Stanfield, who tragically falls victim to the deeply ingrained injustices plaguing U.S. institutions, notably the police force. 'Hard World for Small Things' challenges the indifference and dehumanization that often occurs when it comes to the lives of "minorities" or non-white people. Through the immersive power of virtual reality, the film draws the viewer into a closer, more intimate encounter with these often marginalized individuals, giving voice to their experiences and struggles.

WATCH ON YOUTUBE

 

BLACK GIRLS PLAY: THE STORY OF HAND GAMES

2023 Short Documentary - World Premiere
Directed by Joe Brewster and Michele Stephenson

Directed with insight and care, this documentary provides an illuminating look into the profound influence that hand games, played by Black girls, have had on shaping the cultural fabric of the United States. The film takes us on a historical journey, tracing the origins of these games all the way back to the era of slavery. Through a collection of enlightening voices, including musicians, music educators, and ethnomusicologists, it unveils a fascinating cultural history that elucidates the significance of hand games. These games, with their rhythmic claps and chants, have not only contributed to the evolution of popular music from jazz to hip-hop but have also left an indelible mark on the broader cultural landscape.

‘Black Girls Play’ does not merely explore the historical aspect but also delves into the enduring influence of hand games on style, individualism, and self-expression. From the playgrounds where they originated to the TikTok videos of today, the legacy of hand games continues to resonate. However, the documentary also raises a crucial question: why has so much of the popular culture stemming from hand games been dominated by men when it was young Black girls who were their original creators?

‘Black Girls Play’ not only pays homage to the ingenuity and creativity of Black girls but also prompts us to reflect on the contributions of Black women throughout history.

WATCH ON ESPN+

 

THE REBELLIOUS LIFE OF MRS. ROSA PARKS

2022 Spotlight Documentary Feature - World Premiere
Directed by Yoruba Richen and Johanna Hamilton

Based on the bestselling biography by Jeanne Theoharis, this documentary is an essential exploration of Rosa Parks' lifelong dedication to activism. Executive produced by award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien, the film paints a comprehensive portrait of this iconic figure, shedding light on her pivotal role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and her political work alongside Congressman John Conyers in Detroit.

But 'The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks' goes beyond these well-known moments in history. It delves into the many causes that Rosa Parks fearlessly championed throughout her life, including voting rights and reparations. The documentary expertly weaves together interviews with esteemed academics and activists like Bryan Stevenson, Patrisse Cullors, and Ericka Huggins. It also incorporates personal stories from Rosa Parks' family and remarkable footage of the woman herself, dispelling myths and revealing her decades of extensive organizing, strategizing, and activism in the pursuit of Black liberation.

This powerful documentary shines a much-needed spotlight on the often-overlooked contributions of Black women to the Civil Rights movement. It is a celebration of one of America's greatest heroes and a recognition of her radical politics, fiercely dedicated to correcting the frequent minimizing of her accomplishments and the erasure of her legacy. 'The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks' is a testament to the resilience and determination of those who have fought tirelessly for justice and equality, making it a perfect choice for your Black History Month viewing list.

WATCH ON PEACOCK TV

 

STOP

2015 Shorts in Competition: Student - New York Premiere
Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green

In 'STOP,' Green leads us on a gripping journey through the darkened streets of New York City, following a young man named Xavier as he heads home from baseball practice. However, what starts as a seemingly ordinary evening takes a chilling turn when Xavier becomes aware that he is being followed. The tension in the film escalates as we grapple with the uncertainty of who is pursuing him - the police, a gang, or individuals posing as law enforcement.

This riveting drama was born out of Reinaldo Marcus Green's contemplation of the highly controversial Trayvon Martin case and the subsequent acquittal of George Zimmerman. He couldn't help but wonder, "What if I was Trayvon Martin on my way home?" This question became the foundation for 'STOP,' a film that confronts the issue of police brutality and violence in the United States head-on. Green's decision to create this powerful narrative was further reinforced by the tragic incidents involving Walter Scott and Freddie Gray, making 'STOP' not only timely but also a poignant call for humanity and fairness in the justice system.

The film's tension is not confined to the screen but reverberates within our hearts as we watch, reminding us of the harsh realities that young Black individuals like Xavier face daily. It is a film that challenges us to confront uncomfortable truths, sparking important conversations about the experiences of Black individuals in America.

WATCH ON VIMEO