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Photo by James R. Robinson, courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival.

These 7 Feature Films Helmed by Black Directors Will Be Premiering at Tribeca 2019

The 18th edition of the prestigious film festival kicks off in April.

The Tribeca Film Festival will return to New York very soon, showcasing work from emerging and notable talent in the global film world.


In it's 18th year, the festival has shared what we can anticipate in their feature program, including stories in feature-length and documentary formats that cover comedy, politics, social commentary, music and more. Tribeca had to narrow down the program from over 9,000 submissions to feature 103 films from 124 filmmakers. Out of the total film, 29 percent are helmed by directors of color—which includes seven black filmmakers.

"Every festival is shaped by and reflective of its community, and we are fortunate that our hometown just happens to be the most diverse city on Earth," says Cara Cusumano, Tribeca's festival director, in a statement. "So our curatorial mandate is to bring to the screens a cinematic celebration—in only 100 features—whose breadth of stories and storytellers is as prismatic and adventurous, local and global, diverse and inclusive as our incredible city."

Check out the seven feature narratives and documentaries helmed by black directors you can't miss, with synopses from Tribeca, below.

The 2019 Tribeca Film Festival runs from April 24 to May 5—find out more information here.

BURNING CANE

Photo by Phillip Youmans, courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival.

Set among the cane fields of rural Louisiana, 'Burning Cane' follows a deeply religious mother struggling to reconcile her convictions of faith with the love she has for her troubled son. Featuring Wendell Pierce, Karen Kaia Livers, Dominique McClellan and Braelyn Kelly.

Director + Writer: Phillip Youmans

Producers: Wendell Pierce, Mose Mayer, Ojo Akinlana, Karen KaiaLivers, Cassandra Youmans and Phillip Youmans.

World Premiere

A KID FROM CONEY ISLAND

Photo by Andy Chan, courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival.

From the streets of Coney Island to the NBA, the story of basketball star Stephon Marbury reveals that often life is about the journey, not the destination—and the unexpected places your dreams may take you.

Directors + Writers: Chike Ozah and Coodie Simmons

Producers: Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker and Jason Samuels

World Premiere

WHAT'S MY NAME: MUHAMMAD ALI

Rights of Publicity and Persona Rights: Muhammad Ali Enterprises LLC. Photo by Ken Regan © 2019 Muhammad Ali Enterprises LLC, courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival.

One of the most iconic figures in athletic history, Muhammad Ali's incredible story from world champion boxer to inspiring social activist is explored through his own voice and never-before-seen archival material by acclaimed filmmaker Antoine Fuqua, with executive producers LeBron James and Maverick Carter.

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Writer: Steven Leckart

Producer: Sean Stuart

World Premiere

THE WEEKEND

Photo by James R. Robinson, courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival.

A stand-up comic who's been struggling to get over her ex finds herself instead awkwardly third-wheeling her way through a weekend getaway alongside him and his new girlfriend in this warm, wry comedy. Featuring Sasheer Zamata, Tone Bell, DeWanda Wise, Kym Whitley and Y'lan Noel.

Director + Writer: Stella Meghie.

Producers: Stella Meghie, Stephanie Allain, Mel Jones, Sarah Lazow and James Gibb.

New York Premiere

THE REMIX: HIP HOP X FASHION

Photo by Niknaz Tavakolian, courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival.

The story of how hip hop changed fashion, leading to the stratospheric and global rise of street wear. It is a journey of African American creativity and the limitless possibilities of a cultural movement on a global scale. Featuring Misa Hylton, April Walker, Dapper Dan, Kerby Jean-Raymond.

Directors: Lisa Cortés + Farah X

Producer: Lisa Cortés

World Premiere

THE APOLLO

Photo courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival.

The feature-length documentary weaves together archival footage, music, comedy and dance performances, and behind-the-scenes verité with the team that makes the theater run. Featuring interviews from Patti LaBelle, Pharrell Williams, Smokey Robinson, and Jamie Foxx.

Director: Roger Ross Williams

Festival Opener + World Premiere

SEE YOU YESTERDAY

Photo courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival.

Two Brooklyn teenage prodigies, C.J. Walker and Sebastian Thomas, build make-shift time machines to save C.J.'s brother, Calvin, from being wrongfully killed by a police officer.

Director: Stefon Bristol

Writers: Stefon Bristol and Fredrica Bailey

Producers: Spike Lee, Jason Sokoloff and Matt Myers

World Premiere

Interview
Photo: Schure Media Group/Roc Nation

Interview: Buju Banton Is a Lyrical Purveyor of African Truth

A candid conversation with the Jamaican icon about his new album, Upside Down 2020, his influence on afrobeats, and the new generation of dancehall.

Devout fans of reggae music have been longing for new musical offerings from Mark Anthony Myrie, widely-known as the iconic reggae superstar Buju Banton. A shining son of Jamaican soil, with humble beginnings as one of 15 siblings in the close-knit community of Salt Lane, Kingston, the 46-year-old musician is now a legend in his own right.

Buju Banton has 12 albums under his belt, one Grammy Award win for Best Reggae Album, numerous classic hits and a 30-year domination of the industry. His larger-than-life persona, however, is more than just the string of accolades that follow in the shadows of his career. It is his dutiful, authentic style of Caribbean storytelling that has captured the minds and hearts of those who have joined him on this long career ride.

The current socio-economic climate of uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrusted onto the world, coupled with the intensified fight against racism throughout the diaspora, have taken centre stage within the last few months. Indubitably, this makes Buju—and by extension, his new album—a timely and familiar voice of reason in a revolution that has called for creative evolution.

With his highly-anticipated album, Upside Down 2020, the stage is set for Gargamel. The title of this latest discography feels nothing short of serendipitous, and with tracks such as "Memories" featuring John Legend and the follow-up dancehall single "Blessed," it's clear that this latest body of work is a rare gem that speaks truth to vision and celebrates our polylithic African heritage in its rich fullness and complexities.

Having had an exclusive listen to some other tracks on the album back in April, our candid one-on-one conversation with Buju Banton journeys through his inspiration, collaboration and direction for Upside Down 2020, African cultural linkages and the next generational wave of dancehall and reggae.

This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.

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