The term Afrofuturism was first used by writer Mark Dery in his 1994 essay, "Black to the Future." The label was coined to explain works that center Blackness and Africanness (in its different forms) through speculative fiction. The genre features infinite future possibilities in which Black people exist, not just as background or bystanders, but at the center of the narrative.
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To put it another way, author Ytasha Womack defines Afrofuturism as works with “elements of science fiction, historical fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, Afrocentricity, and magic realism with non-Western beliefs.”
Some writers and creators also make a distinction between Afrofuturism and Africanfuturism, the latter of which deals specifically with African themes.
If you're hungry to explore more Afrofuturism, here are 13 Afrofuturist movies you should totally check out.
Black Panther (2018)
You've likely already seen Black Panther, but an Afrofuturism movie list wouldn't be complete without it.
An instant classic upon its release, this Marvel movie stars the late Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa/Black Panther, who takes the throne in Wakanda after the death of his father.
T'Challa's authority is questioned by Erik Stevens/Killmonger, who is on a mission to share Wakanda's advanced vibranium technology with the rest of the African diaspora.
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Supa Modo (2018)
Directed by Likarion Wainaina, this Kenyan superheroine movie premiered at the 68th Berlin International Film Festival.
This movie follows Jo, a young, Jackie Chan-obsessed girl in a small Kenyan village. Jo has ambitions of becoming a superhero, but faced with a terminal illness, her future is limited.
To ensure Jo's ambitions come to fruition, her village plots to help her become the superhero she wants to be. Supa Modo is a stunning reminder that community, above everything else, shapes our future.
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Brown Girl Begins (2017)
It's not every time we see the Caribbean properly represented in movies, but this film — a prequel to Nalo Hopkinson's novel Brown Girl in the Ring — is an exception.
In this Canadian sci-fi movie we meet Ti-Jeanne, a spiritual heiress who struggles to accept her position as the Priestess of the Burndwellers, a segregated community living off recycling, farming, and bartering.
When a drug lord terrorizes the Burndwellers and sells them to the mainlanders as slaves, Ti-Jeanne must face the weight of her destiny and accept the power of the spirits.
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They Charge for the Sun (2016)
Set in a dystopian future, They Charge For the Sun explores a time when people live in the dark to avoid the harmful rays of the sun. The protagonist, a young Black girl, sets out to search for the truth that has kept her family in the dark.
Directed by Terence Nance, this film interrogates environmental evolution and the influence of capitalism.
The word 'sankofa' means to return, to seek, to take in the Ghanaian Twi language.
In this thrilling drama Mona, a supermodel, meets an old man named Sankofa who orders her to her past.
An unnerved Mona dissolves and reappears in the ancient fortress of the Cape Coast Castle, where slaves were kept.
The movie incorporates African traditions, storytelling, and rituals to demonstrate the strength of Black people while highlighting the failures of humanity.
The Last Angel of History (1996)
Much like Sankofa, this movie incorporates time travel. The Last Angel of History is part-narrative, part-documentary.
The narrative portion follows "Data Thief," who sold his soul to to obtain the knowledge of the future. Now, the Thief must travel to the present to investigate Black cultural speculations as answers to his impending future.
The documentary portion of the film is truly compelling, and features interviews with Afrofuturists like Octavia E. Butler, Samuel R. Delany, Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols, and others.
The Sin Seer (2015)
Starring Grey's Anatomy's Isiah Washington, The Sin Seer follows Rose, a private investigator who possesses the power to see the sin in other's souls.
With this unique ability she is able to bring closure where there was formerly none. But when she encounters a case that leads to her own past, her powers fail her.
The significance of Blade in the Afrofuturist movie canon cannot be overemphasized. The image of the Black human-vampire hybrid unsheathing his titular shining sword has become iconic.
Filled with action and blood, this Wesley Snipes film eventually spawned a trilogy. The protection of the human race from evil vampires has never looked better than Blade.
Space Is the Place (1974)
The world has been hard on Black people. In this movie, African-American musician Sun Ra proposes a permanent solution to the problem: move to space, using music as the mode of transportation.
Sun Ra's script and performance is stunning, and Space Is the Place is considered one of the best Afrofuturist movies to ever grace the screen.
The Brother from Another Planet (1984)
This 80s film stands out for its brilliant blend of social commentary and humor.
It begins with a common sci-fi trope: aliens arrive on earth.
But this time, the alien is a Black man, and the portion of earth he lands on is Ellis Island. The titular brother winds up in Harlem, where he faces mishaps and humorous moments.
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Nigerian director Dimeji Ajibola's film Ratnik follows a Nigerian soldier, Sarah, in World War III. When Sarah returns home she learns that her sister is gravely ill from a chemical substance, and barely clinging to life..
A sci-fi thriller is set in motion as Sarah tries to save her sister's life, starting a new war in the process.
Wanuri Kahiu’s 2009 short-film film is set in a post-apocalyptic world where water has vanished after water wars, and no life survives above-ground.
However, hope lies in scientists exploring newly-germinating seeds in Nairobi, Kenya. A young woman, Asha, struggles to bring the new seeds to the rough earth surface as she battles her government. All the while, survivors of the environmental ruins remain locked in a contained community.
Crumbs set itself apart on this list as a sci-fi romance.
Our protagonist, Gagano, begins an epic quest to conquer his fear in an apocalyptic world where humans have discovered the extraterrestrial, and must subsist on scraps and rummaged crumbs.
Featured still from 'Supa Modo' via One Fin Day Films