I didn’t make it out of the 2018 Oscars without crying.
I really couldn’t help it. Jordan Peele shattered a whole lot of glass ceiling a few nights ago, becoming the only African-American screenwriter in the 90 years of the Academy Awards’ existence to win Best Original Screenplay for Get Out, which he also directed.
My best friend and I held hands as we waited for the envelope to be opened, and screamed bloody murder when Nicole Kidman uttered the first syllable of Peele’s name. The look on his face as he walked off stage holding his Oscar was how I looked watching a writer who looks like me get the most prestigious accolade in film for telling his story, which is really my story, too.
We get so used to not hearing their names get called. People of color, members of the LGBT+ community, members of the disabled community… and then they do. I am so grateful when they do.
Oscars weekend came three weeks after the release of the most talked-about movie of 2018, Black Panther. There has been a whirlwind of discourse surrounding the Marvel flick, as the film and its cast dominated — and is still dominating — the media, with the power of representation at the core of each critical discussion.
Ryan Coogler is having quite the moment right now, as he should. Black Panther is sitting pretty as the highest-grossing opening for an African-American director EVER. BP‘s record-breaking success and Jordan Peele’s historic win are evidence of what happens when Black people tell our own stories, when we have the agency over our own portrayals and the worlds we exist in, both fictional and non-fictional.
Predominantly Black casts, as seen in BP, are only a drop in the ocean of representation in the film industry. We must think about representation behind the camera, too. A montage was shown during the Oscars with producers, writers, directors, and multi-hyphenate actors that belong to marginalized groups. In the words of producer and director Lee Daniels during those clips: “We’re here and we’re not going anywhere.”
Below is a list of 15 upcoming films helmed by Black directors. Show up, show out, show support.
1. A Wrinkle in Time, Ava Duvernay
Based on the 1962 novel of the same name written by Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time will be reimagined for the big screen by Ava Duvernay. A story about a young girl who is on a mission to save her father and the world from evil with the help of three otherworldly creatures, the science fiction adventure film has a beautifully diverse ensemble cast. Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling star as Mrs. Which, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Who respectively, and Storm Reid as the protagonist Meg Murry. The film is set to be released on March 9, 2018.
This is the first nine-budget film to ever be directed by a woman of color.
2 & 3. Acrimony and The List, Tyler Perry
Tyler Perry is taking a break from Madea movies… for a little. Acrimony is up first, a psychological thriller about a faithful wife betrayed by her devious husband one too many times. It will star Taraji P. Henson and She’s Gotta Have It‘s Lyriq Bent, and will be released on March 30, 2018.
Next is The List, a comedy written, directed, and produced by Perry, about a woman who is released from prison and helps her sister realize she is being catfished by an online boyfriend. The bill is led by Tiffany Haddish, Tika Sumpter, and Omari Hardwick. The release date is November 2,2018.
4. Sorry to Bother You, Boots Riley
The directorial debut for rapper and producer Boots Riley is a fantasy science fiction film about a telemarketer that discovers a magical key to business success. The film, both written and directed by Riley, has an ensemble cast. A few of the stars include Lakeith Stanfield, Armie Hammer, Tessa Thompson, Steven Yeun, Omari Hardwick, Terry Crews, and Danny Glover. Sorry to Bother You hits theaters on July 6, 2018.
5. Night School, Malcolm D. Lee
Coming off of the high of 2017’s Girls Trip, Malcolm D. Lee directed a comedy about a group of misfit adults attending night classes to pass the GED exam. The film is set to star Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, and Yvonne Orji, and is also co-written and produced by Hart. Coming to a theater near you on September 28, 2018.
6. Widows, Steve McQueen
12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen is bringing us a heist thriller about four armed robbers that are killed during a failed heist attempt, and their widows who step up to finish the job. It stars Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Daniel Kaluuya, Liam Neeson, and Robert Duvall. Damn! The film will be released on November 16, 2018.
7. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Peter Ramsey
<img src=”https://splendidlykait.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/peterramsey.jpg” class=”wp-image-4209 size-full” height=”1688″ alt=” on November 13, 2012 in Rome, Italy.” width=”3000″>
The fourth big screen iteration of Spidey is coming this winter, and it’ll be co-directed by Peter Ramsey. This time, Spider-Man is animated, Black, and his name is Miles Morales. It’ll be the classic Spider-Man story arc: regular teen turned big city superhero. Miles will be voiced by Shameik Moore, and other characters voiced by Liev Schreiber, Mahershala Ali, and Brian Tyree Henry. Support superheroes of color on December 21, 2018.
8. If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins
Moonlight director Barry Jenkins is working on an adaptation of If Beale Street Could Talk, the 1974 novel by James Baldwin. It is a love story set in 1970s Harlem, and the main cast will include Kiki Layne, Stephan James, Teyonah Parris, Regina King, and Colman Domingo. The film is currently in post-production and will arrive to theaters in late 2018.
9. Black Klansman, Spike Lee
Spike Lee’s next film is an adaptation of the book Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth, a crime thriller — and true story — about a Black detective in Colorado who infiltrates a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan and eventually leads it. Denzel Washington’s son, John David Washington, will star as Detective Ron Stallworth. Other cast members include Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace, and Corey Hawkins. It is co-produced by fan fave Jordan Peele, and is set to be released in late 2018.
10. Luce, Julius Onah
Julius Onah, who recently directed the third installment of the Cloverfield franchise, currently has a film in post-production called Luce. According to Deadline, the movie is about an African teenager named Luce who was a former child solider now living with adoptive American parents in the suburbs. “A star athlete and top student, Luce’s idealized image is challenged by one of his teachers when his unsettling views on political violence come to light, putting a strain on family bonds while igniting intense debates on race and identity.” Starring Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Tim Roth, and Kelvin Harrison Jr., the film is awaiting a release date, but will arrive later this year: TBA 2018.
11. Yardie, Idris Elba
Idris Elba’s feature-length directorial debut is an adaptation of the 1993 novel of the same name by Victor Headley. The story follows a young Jamaican man’s rise from the streets of London to the top of the drug world. It was screened at Sundance in January 2018, and the trailer was released worldwide a month later. It will star Aml Ameen, Stephen Graham, and Akin Gazi. Its release date is TBA 2018.
12. The Hate U Give, George Tillman Jr.
Angie Thomas’ debut YA novel The Hate U Give, about sixteen-year-old Starr Carter who witnesses her unarmed friend killed by police, is being adapted for film. Directed by George Tillman Jr. and starring Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, Anthony Mackie, Algee Smith, Issa Rae, and Common, the film’s release date is TBA 2018.
13. Where Hands Touch, Amma Asante
British director Amma Asante, who brought us 2013’s Belle with Gugu Mbatha-Raw, currently has a film in post-production called Where Hands Touch. It is a coming of age story about a bi-racial teen living in Nazi Germany. This film also stars Amandla Stenberg in the lead role, with the remainder of the cast including George MacKay and Abbie Cornish. The movie is expected to hit theaters later this year: TBA 2018.
14. Son of Shaft, Tim Story
This action comedy film is the next installment of the Shaft franchise, with John Shaft II returning to partner with his son, an FBI agent and cyber expert. The movie is being co-written and produced by Black-ish‘s Kenya Barris, and will star the original John Shaft of 1971, Richard Roundtree. Samuel L. Jackson will return as nephew John Shaft II, and the titular role will be played by Jessie Usher… John Shaft III. The film will also star Alexandra Shipp, Regina Hall, Avan Jogia, and Method Man. Son of Shaft arrives to theaters on June 14, 2019.
15. Wrong Answer, Ryan Coogler
Soon after Black Panther‘s release, there was buzz about Ryan Coogler’s next project. He will be teaming up with actor Michael B. Jordan once again — Coogler and Jordan, the new Scorsese and DiCaprio — for a drama based on a true story, the Atlanta academic cheating scandal. The film is based on The New Yorker article written by Rachel Aviv, titled “Wrong Answer.” Michael B. Jordan will play Damany Lewis, the middle school math teacher profiled in the Aviv article. According to Deadline, Lewis and Aviv will act as consultants on the film, and Ta-Nehisi Coates will write the screenplay. This project is still in the early stages, so the release date is TBA.
As this list comes to an end, please note that out of these 15 Black-director-led movies being released and green-lit, only 2 of them are directed by women.
I scoured the internet, getting lost in press releases and film news pages, specifically looking for female directors to include in this round-up for 2018 and early 2019.
I could only find two.
To donate to Women in Film Los Angeles, an initiative founded in 1973 by Tichi Wilkerson Kassell that advocates for and advances the careers of women working in the screen industries, click HERE.
To donate to Time’s Up, an initiative founded in 2018 by celebrities in the screen industries to create a legal defense fund to provide subsidized legal support to those who have experienced sexual harassment, assault, or abuse in the workplace, click HERE.
To donate to the Black Women in Film Network, a non-profit organization established in 1997 by Sheryl Riley Gripper that functions to prepare Black women to enter the film and television industries and preserve their voices through film and educational programs, click HERE.