Breaking Boundaries: Directors Shaping New Black Movies in 2023

Black viewers watching a new black movie of 2023

The film and television industry is being transformed by talented Black directors taking the industry by storm. With the several new Black movies 2023 has brought so far, and with Black talent on the rise in nearly every aspect of the industry, it’s no wonder that several Black directors are making their mark in film and television.

While you might be aware of some of the new Black movies 2023 has brought us, you might not know as much about their directors or Black directors in the industry in general. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of a few directors shaping new Black cinema in 2023 and beyond so you know who to look out for in the future. Let’s get started!

1. Janicza Bravo

One of our favorite directors shaping new Black movies in 2023 and beyond is Janicza Bravo, whose directing credits span film and television. While she might not be a household name yet, Bravo is certainly on the path to becoming one, with her 2020 film “Zola” making waves at the Sundance Film Festival and with modern audiences. Along with “Zola,” Bravo is known for directing episodes of the television series “Dear White People” and “Atlanta.”

“Zola,” an adaptation of a viral 148-tweet thread and one of our favorites from 2020, might be the director’s most iconic film to date – but it’s far from her last. Since “Zola,” Bravo has directed several television episodes, including four episodes of “In Treatment,” “Them,” and an episode of “Poker Face.” Her work always feels fresh, exciting, and timely, and we can only hope to see more from her in the future. Her powerful leading Black characters are a testament to her talent as a director. With far too few Black directors in Hollywood, we’re looking forward to seeing what one of our new favorites brings to the table next.

2. Blitz Bazawule

Another artist making waves in Hollywood is Blitz Bazawule, whose directorial debut, “The Burial of Kojo” (2018), absolutely blew us away. This powerful story, which follows a man trapped in a mine shaft as his daughter goes on a journey to rescue him, is only one of the many contributions that Blitz Bazawule is making to the film industry. Born in Ghana and now working in New York, Bazawule is a man of many talents, and his work goes far beyond film. He’s also the co-director of Beyoncé’s visual album “Black is King,” the director of the upcoming adaptation of “The Color Purple,” and a musician and novelist.

One of the things we love most about Blitz Bazawule is that there’s no putting him in one box; his work spans genres and mediums, meaning that everything he releases feels new and exciting. From his musical talent to his mystical filmography, we’ve adored pretty much everything Blitz Bazawule has contributed to so far in his career. With an amazing lineup of projects already under his belt and with many more to come, we can’t wait to see what Blitz Bazawule presents to audiences next – and we’re pretty sure we’ll love it.

3. Shaka King

We love any filmmaker who isn’t afraid to tackle difficult subjects, and Shaka King has proven to be able to do just that with his sophomore feature “Judas and the Black Messiah” (2021). Though the director got his start with his first feature, the 2013 comedy “Newlyweeds,” it’s “Judas and the Black Messiah” that’s earned Shaka King his spot on our list of directors shaping Black cinema. The movie tells the tale of Fred Hampton, head of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party, as he’s unknowingly betrayed by William O’Neal, a member working with the FBI after making a plea deal to get information on Hampton.

“Judas and the Black Messiah” is the director’s most praised work to date, with two Oscar wins to prove it – but we’re hoping it’s far from the director’s last. Shaka King has a knack for telling complicated stories with Black leads that show the depth, honesty, and beauty of Black lives, from the mundane to the revolutionary. We don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to call King revolutionary himself, as the director never shies away from difficult stories that many other filmmakers struggle to tell.

His ability to shine a light on Civil Rights leaders, along with his unique directorial approach, make Shaka King one of the most exciting directors working right now, and we can’t wait for whatever project he works on next.

4. Channing Godfrey Peoples

While her filmography might not be as extensive as some of the other names on this list, we think that Channing Godfrey Peoples is more than deserving of her spot. Her feature-length directorial debut “Miss Juneteenth” (2020) hasn’t left our minds – or our hearts – since we first watched it, and has left us eagerly awaiting what the director has up her sleeve next. The film follows a mother and former beauty queen as she helps her daughter prepare for the “Miss Juneteenth” pageant.

What makes Channing Godfrey Peoples’s work so special is the director’s commitment to telling stories of everyday Black families and individuals, even when the premises appear mundane. No matter the storyline, Channing Godfrey Peoples breathes life into her characters while exploring themes of Black freedom and liberation in everything she creates. Since “Miss Juneteenth,” Channing Godfrey Peoples has directed episodes of the series “Generation” and “Roar,” both of which we loved watching.

Though we’re still awaiting news of the director’s next feature project, we’re certain that whatever Channing Godfrey Peoples brings next, we’ll love. Her stories are effortlessly compelling, quietly beautiful, and undeniably mesmerizing – and we’re sure you’ll love them too.

5. Nia DaCosta

If you’re looking for new Black movies 2023 will bring before the year ends, look no further than the filmography of Nia DaCosta. Her upcoming film “The Marvels” looks incredibly promising and will undoubtedly appeal to all Marvel fans out there – but it’s her previous work that has us so confident in the success of “The Marvels.”

Director of the 2021 version of “Candyman” and the 2018 indie darling “Little Woods,” Nia DaCosta is redefining how Black people are portrayed in film, providing rich, complex roles historically reserved for White actors. “Little Woods,” her feature-length debut, won the Nora Ephron Prize for excellence in storytelling from a female writer or director at the Tribeca Film Festival. Since this film, DaCosta has made it her mission to continue telling authentic Black stories. She has also delved into the world of fantasy and superheroes to show the range of possibilities with Black characters.

Her complex and compelling characters, masterful directing, and brilliant talent have landed Nia DaCosta on this list. Like the other directors we’ve mentioned, we’re thrilled to see what DaCosta will bring to the table in the future.

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