What Is Afrofuturism? Three Movies To Watch If You Want To Get Familiar

Afrofuturism is often mistaken for black science fiction but it's much more than that. In a nutshell, it's about imagining different spaces of creative thought that don't put identity in a box. 

Afrofuturism is a cultural phenomenon that combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, Afrocentrism, and magic realism. It uses these elements to examine the historical events, analyze present-day dilemmas of black people, and imagine a utopia. Afrofuturism's recurring underlying themes include feminism, alienation, water, reclamation and the grotesque.

Space Is The Place (Photo: Sun Ra)

Space Is The Place (Photo: Sun Ra)

Although the term was first coined by Mark Dery in the early 90s, it has been around for decades in the music and films of Sun Ra, on the canvases of Jean-Michel Basquiat, and in the novels of Samuel R. Delany.

To better familiarize yourself with this particular style, check out the following African Afrofuturist films:

Pumzi

Pumzi is a Kenyan science fiction film written and directed by Wanuri Kahiu. It is set in the Maitu community of East Africa, 35 years after World War III – The Water War.

To Catch A Dream

Surrealist Kenyan film To Catch A Dream is a fashion project. Featuring the works of eight Kenyan designers, it follows Ajuma, a grieving widow, who suffers from recurring nightmares. In a bid to put an end to them, she explores a forgotten fairy-tale remedy which leads her to unexpected realizations.

The short film was written and directed by Jim Chuchu, produced by Wangechi Ngugi with creative direction and styling by Sunny Dolat. If you like the film’s original soundtrack which is also by Chuchu, you can stream it on Soundcloud here.

Monsoons Over The Moon

Kenyan filmmaker and director Dan Muchina, who works under the pseudonym Abstract Omega, envisions a dystopian Nairobi run by a dictatorial government in the two-part short film titled Monsoons Over The Moon.

The story is about a street gang known as The Monsoons, who return to help liberate young people from the oppressive system after their escape. Shot in black-and-white, the film touches on the contemporary Kenyan political themes of surveillance, mass incarceration, and the dangers of totalitarianism.

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