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10 Sundance Movies You Can't Miss in 2016


(You can skip The Birth of a Nation.)" data-rightCaption="(You can skip The Birth of a Nation.)

The biggest story at this year's Sundance Film Festival was the record-breaking bidding war for The Birth of a Nation, a prestige biopic about rebellious slave Nat Turner. When Fox Searchlight snatched it for $17.5 million — $5 million more than any other flick in the festival’s history — their intention was clear. Oscars So White? Not this year.

Thing is, The Birth of a Nation isn't very good. The ham-fisted throwback feels out of step with Sundance's less-publicized but more exciting showcase of black talents telling a range of black stories, from the sci-fi thriller Sleight, which will put 28-year-old African-American director J.D. Dillard on Marvel's shortlist, to the clever comedy How to Tell You're a Douchebag, in which a lothario struggles to woo a smart, polyamorous writer once she discovers his blog, “Occasionally Dating Black Women.”

Elsewhere in the festival, Craig Robinson and first-time actor Markees Christmas charmed crowds in Morris From America, about a father and son who move to whiter-than-white Heidelberg, Germany, and audiences were knocked sideways by the young, black and female cast of The Fits, a dreamlike coming-of-age drama about a high-school dance squad crippled by a contagion right out of Salem.

These films about characters, not racial constructs, testify to the variety of voices we should be hearing in 2016 — they think beyond Oscar season and insist that there's power in other points of view besides tragedies and Tyler Perry. To counter any doubters who automatically classify a film with black actors as “niche,” the small romance Southside With You, about a first date, pitched itself as Before Sunrise with a twist: The nervous lovebirds are Barack and Michelle Obama, proof that these literally are the stories that shape our world.

Remember these titles. (Most of them were bought for a fraction of Birth's high-pressure price tag.) And here are 10 more Sundance 2016 films to watch:; Credit: Fox Searchlight">(You can skip The Birth of a Nation.)(You can skip The Birth of a Nation.)

The biggest story at this year's Sundance Film Festival was the record-breaking bidding war for The Birth of a Nation, a prestige biopic about rebellious slave Nat Turner. When Fox Searchlight snatched it for $17.5 million — $5 million more than any other flick in the festival’s history — their intention was clear. Oscars So White? Not this year.

Thing is, The Birth of a Nation isn't very good. The ham-fisted throwback feels out of step with Sundance's less-publicized but more exciting showcase of black talents telling a range of black stories, from the sci-fi thriller Sleight, which will put 28-year-old African-American director J.D. Dillard on Marvel's shortlist, to the clever comedy How to Tell You're a Douchebag, in which a lothario struggles to woo a smart, polyamorous writer once she discovers his blog, “Occasionally Dating Black Women.”

Elsewhere in the festival, Craig Robinson and first-time actor Markees Christmas charmed crowds in Morris From America, about a father and son who move to whiter-than-white Heidelberg, Germany, and audiences were knocked sideways by the young, black and female cast of The Fits, a dreamlike coming-of-age drama about a high-school dance squad crippled by a contagion right out of Salem.

These films about characters, not racial constructs, testify to the variety of voices we should be hearing in 2016 — they think beyond Oscar season and insist that there's power in other points of view besides tragedies and Tyler Perry. To counter any doubters who automatically classify a film with black actors as “niche,” the small romance Southside With You, about a first date, pitched itself as Before Sunrise with a twist: The nervous lovebirds are Barack and Michelle Obama, proof that these literally are the stories that shape our world.

Remember these titles. (Most of them were bought for a fraction of Birth's high-pressure price tag.) And here are 10 more Sundance 2016 films to watch:; Credit: Fox Searchlight

Remember these Sundance titles as you hit the theaters in 2016.