Film

Four Films We're Most Looking Forward to at Sundance 2023

A photo of a young girl in school uniform, imposed on a diary entry.
Photo: Sundance Institute

The documentary 'Milisuthando' is among the African films slated for next year's Sundance Film Festival.

These titles, selected from a record 4,061 feature submissions, make their premiere at the prestigious film event next year.

Last year's Sundance Film Festival gave us delights such as Nigerian American director Adamma Ebo’s debut feature, Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul, and Oliver Hermanus' Living, a moving retelling of the Kurosawa classic, Ikiru. It also saw the debut of Nikyatu Jusu's Nanny, which went on to win the fest's main prize. The Sierra Leonean American director's film, about an undocumented Senegalese woman who becomes a nanny to a wealthy couple on New York’s Upper East Side, stayed top of mind for many critics in the months that followed after its premiere.


This year's fest may not have as many titles on offer from the diaspora as previous years, but those that are listed among this year's lineup are still reason enough to be excited. The Sundance Institute has just announced the independent titles that will make up next year's festival, which once again returns as a virtual and in-person event. The fest will take place January 19–29, 2023, in person in Park City, Salt Lake City, and the Sundance Resort, along with a selection of films available online in the US.

These are the four films we're most looking forward to seeing at next year’s Sundance:

Milisuthando

South African director and screenwriter Milisuthando Bongela has been working on this personal documentary for the past 8 years. She won the IDFA prize for most promising documentary at the Durban Film Mart in 2018, and the project was part of the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Fund cohort of 2019. Produced by Marion Isaacs, and premiering in the World Documentary section of the fest, Milisuthando is set in past, present, and future South Africa, and explores themes of love, intimacy, race, and belonging by a filmmaker “who grew up during apartheid but didn’t know it was happening until it was over.”

Mami Wata


Already an established name in Nigeria and beyond, thanks to the likes of Juju Stories, director C.J. Obasi has a shot at the festival’s main prize with his film, which is part of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition. Starring Evelyne Ily, Uzoamaka Aniunoh, and Kelechi Udegbe, the supernatural tale is centered on the mami wata folklore, and two sisters who must fight to save the people of their village.

Animalia

This co-production between Morocco, France and Qatar is directed by Sofia Alaoui. Her short film, So What If The Goats Die, won the grand jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020 and the César award for best short fiction film in 2021. The log-line for the film tells us Animalia is about a young, pregnant woman who finds emancipation as aliens land in Morocco.

Bravo, Burkina!

Multi-hyphenate Nigerian American Walé Oyéjidé is a creative force through and through, and makes his narrative feature film debut as director with this story, in which a Burkinabé boy flees his village and migrates to Italy. It premieres in the Next section of the festival, and Oyéjidé, who trained as a lawyer, is also a Sundance Feature Film fellow. He founded the fashion company Ikire Jones, so fans of his work (which made an appearance in Black Panther) will be thrilled to see his film pursuits come to life.

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