Juel Taylor

4 Must-Watch Black Indie Films

Discover the top Black indie films of 2023, showcasing compelling stories about identity, race, and the human experience crafted by audacious filmmakers.


Feb. 15 2024, Published 8:43 p.m. ET

This decade has witnessed a remarkable outpouring of Black indie cinema, a testament to Black filmmakers' boundless creativity and storytelling prowess. These films have showcased the diversity and talent of Black artistry and have served as powerful mediums for social commentary, exploring themes of identity, race, and the human condition. Here are five must-watch Black indie films, each offering a unique and captivating cinematic experience.

According to film experts at The New Republic, "The most famous of the early Black filmmakers was a burly, charismatic businessman named Oscar Micheaux, who launched the Micheaux Film Corporation in Chicago. Micheaux created nearly 50 films during his 30-year career. Before turning to film, he published several popular semi-autobiographical novels, adapting his most famous book for his screen debut.

Released in 1919, "The Homesteader," starring Evelyn Preer and Charles Lucas, is the first Black narrative feature-length film." The rich tapestry of Black film cannot be denied and there is no shortage of modern Black films that you can enjoy. Here are four Black Indie films you should check out!

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1. ‘Magazine Dreams’

In the compelling drama Magazine Dreams, Elijah Bynum masterfully blends the worlds of bodybuilding and social commentary. He creates a poignant narrative that delves into the depths of human ambition and disillusionment. Jonathan Majors delivers a tour-de-force performance as Killian Walker, a young Black bodybuilder striving for physical perfection amidst a society that obsesses over image.

Killian's relentless pursuit of his dreams, driven by a deep-seated need for validation, leads him to self-destruction. The movie is a powerful allegory for the unattainable beauty standards and societal pressures. It is worth a watch if only for the amazing acting though the powerful message is worth taking note of as well.

2. ‘Super Turnt’

Black Indie films are gaining traction today and Super Turnt is no different, coming from the creative mind of Mann Robinson. Libaraiers "Rilla" Stanford, has just been released from prison and finds that his immediate world has changed, knowing that the dangers of the streets remain the same, his only mission is to take care of his 6-year-old son, Kevin.

This film keeps the pace and shines a light on the struggles of people in real-life situations making real-life choices with real-life consequences. The plot is realistic and the characters make realistic decisions- not good choices but ones that make sense given the situation and the story that is being told. It is worth a watch and should be enjoyed by anyone a fan of this type of movie.

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3. ‘They Cloned Tyrone’

Directed by Juel Taylor, They Cloned Tyrone takes viewers on a captivating sci-fi thriller that blends genre elements with thought-provoking questions about identity and race. John Boyega plays Fontaine, a neighborhood drug dealer, who is shot dead by rival Isaac and then is very shocked to wake up in his bed the next morning unharmed.

A search for answers ensues and eventually leads the cast to a vast underground complex where a government-backed lab is in operation. In a typical undercover government conspiracy manner, the lab is performing experiments on the local Black population. The powerful visual metaphors of the film spark a deeper examination of identity and the complex role of genetics in shaping who we are.

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4. ‘Nanny’

Nikyatu Jusu's horror film, Nanny, blends unsettling scares with a poignant exploration of motherhood and the immigrant experience. Playing on the innate fears we all feel and weaving that with suspenseful filming and acting, this is a movie that will keep you chilled to your core while watching.

Immigrant nanny Aisha is forced to confront a concealed truth that threatens to shatter her precarious American Dream. Following a series of increasingly disturbing and paranormal events, haunted by a malevolent presence Aisha is forced to confront things that are unnatural and terrifying. It’s a powerful and thought-provoking film that delves into the complexities of motherhood, the struggles of immigrants, and the haunting effects of the past.

A Celebration of Black Indie Cinema

These films showcase the incredible diversity and talent of Black filmmakers and actors. These films have entertained, challenged, and inspired audiences, ushering them into a world of stories reflecting Black communities' multifaceted experiences.

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