Taking in independent films is a great way to diversify your media consumption, and step outside of the mainstream. Often times, independent films provide the space for filmmakers, producers, and screenwriters to tell stories that represent people and experiences that big budget films can ignore. Black independent film had an incredible 2018, with movies like Sorry to Bother You and Blackkklansman wowing critics and getting people talking. If you feel like not enough mainstream films are attempting to really resonate with Black culture in this society, look to artists who are creating work that doesn't have to appeal to a massive ticket buying audience.
The independent film world is still filled with great storytelling and a wide variety of opportunities for stories about people of color to be told. From movies like Blindspotting that explore racial tensions to Nappily Ever After, where we see an exploration of Black women's relationships with hair, these films are all worth checking out. Some were films were released by big distributors like Netflix, but started life as independent projects while others were straight up grassroots, from beginning to end. Both big and small, all of these movies are worth revisiting — or enjoying for the first time.
Blindspotting is a dramedy that explores racial tensions, social class, gentrification, and probation in Oakland's hood through the friendship of two men named Collin (Daveed Diggs) and Miles (Rafael Casal).
A remake of the 1972 blaxploitation crime film, the 2018 version stars Trevor Jackson as the young criminal Youngblood Priest, who's trying to find his way out of the Atlanta drug scene.
BlacKKKlansman is about two police officers, Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) and his colleague Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), who plan to go undercover to infiltrate and expose the local Ku Klux Klan chapter
4. Sorry To Bother You
This one is a satire about the racial dynamics and code-switching in workplace culture, following a Black telemarketer (Lakeith Stanfield) who uses a white voice to improve his business.
5. Hearts Beat Loud
A single dad (Nick Offerman) convinces his daughter, who is headed off to college (Kiersey Clemons), to hit the road as a musical duo act.
6. Uncle Drew
Uncle Drew stars Lil Rel Howery as a Harlem native who wishes to win the Rucker Classic street ball tournament in Harlem. In order to do so, he must invest all of his money into the tournament and call on a legendary basketball player named Uncle Drew (NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving) to create a team and help him win.
7. First Match
Netflix film First Match follows a high schooler named Monique (Elvire Emanuelle), who is preparing for her first co-ed high school wrestling match.
8. Roxanne, Roxanne
Roxanne, Roxanne chronicles the start of the '80s rapper Roxanne Shante's career, including the sexism and challenges the rapper had to endure to become a major star.
The journey of Black womanhood and the expression of having free choice in religion grounds this film. A young woman named Summer (Zoe Renee) experience a total change when her mom, a popular meteorologist, abruptly decides to convert to Islam.
10. Step Sisters
On Netflix, Sisters is comedy about stepping and race relations in the college culture.
11. Nappily Ever After
Venus Johnson (Sanaa Lathan) is tired of waiting for her longtime boyfriend to propose, so she breaks up with him. But, as soon as he moves on with a new woman, Venus' old feelings sprout up and prompt her to make a drastic change.
12. Monsters And Men
After a fatal police shooting in a local Brooklyn neighborhood, tensions rise in a community that wonders what the police stand for.
Tyrel is all about Tyler (Jason Mitchell) finding himself out of control when he realizes he's the only Black person attending a birthday weekend with friends in a secluded cabin.
14. Hale County This Morning, This Evening
This documentary two young men as they try to overcome the circumstances of living and thriving in the South.
Indie films provide unique perspectives that have the ability to change the way we look at racial representation in storytelling. Add these films to your watch list so you can also explore the nuance and messages that each film conveys.