Prescient and primal, science fiction can provide a mirror into the future–or in some cases, the present. The recent events involving the coronavirus pandemic feels ripped straight from the pages of an Octavia Butler novel. Now is no better time to dig into a sci-fi collection of short films, pilots and feature films featuring Black talent.
Before he took the Oscars by storm with his acclaimed motion picture Moonlight, Barry Jenkins directed a very compelling sci-fi short called Reimagration, which starred Russell Hornsby. The short film, which is ripe for the feature treatment, centers around a family who have been forced to relocate from their home in San Francisco, a city populated by the upper class. However, their lives may go back to normal when the city starts a program to bring working-class families back to the city.
2. Attack The Block
Before he starred as Finn in the Star Wars franchise, John Boyega first gained attention as Moses in the sci-fi film Attack The Block, directed by Joe Cornish. The 2011 film revolves around a street gang who have to defend themselves against alien invaders in their South London neighborhood.
3. The Abandon
In the science-fiction pilot The Abandon, Keith Josef Adkins wrote and directed a compelling tale of five men who are caught in the middle of an alien invasion during a hiking trip.The pilot stars Jordan Mahome, Morocco Omari, Jaime Lincoln Smith, Billy Eugene Jones and a pre-This Is Us Sterling K. Brown.
4. Dirty Computer
Part science-fiction, part musical, Janelle Monae blends the best of both worlds in this compelling film that serves as an accompanying piece for her acclaimed album Dirty Computer. The film, which also stars Tessa Thompson and Jayson Aaron, revolves around a group of people trying to break free from a totalitarian regime.
5. Avant Guardians
A surreal aura serves as the backdrop for web series Avant Guardians. In the series, a guardian angel to the 3rd black president who is mandated to see a no-nonsense therapist angel so she won’t mess her human up. Each episode serves as a therapy session that sheds a light on the Black American experience in a witty way.
2019 saw the full release of a film based on the DC Comics superhero Static Shock. Set in Dakota City, Static revolves around Virgil Hawkins (played in the short film by Malik Shakoor), a Black teenager gifted with the power to manipulate electricity. Aside from dealing with his newly-acquired powers and bullies at school, his life is further complicated when his father runs for mayor. However, he is offered support by his best friend Richie (Gabriel Beckerle) and the kind words of his teacher, Mrs. Jackson (Gina Cheatham), who reminds her students that they were born from the blood of kings and queens.
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