2020 Sundance Docs in Focus: BLKNWS

BLKNWS | Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Kahlil Joseph creates a unique news broadcast through a distinctly affirmative black lens.

Festival Section:
New Frontier

Sundance Program Description:

Kahlil Joseph’s mesmerizing news-creation machine is a soulful and rousing intervention into the “news-industrial complex” that is presently manifesting an epidemic in our society: news addiction powered by corporate digital platforms on networked devices. BLKNWS combines appropriated news and social media with originally produced anchored segments to create a continuously updated broadcast that is as much a news service as it is a portal to an elevated state of awareness.

“A fugitive newscast” that rejuvenates what news can be, BLKNWS aims to become a bona fide news network that can only be accessed at specific terrestrial sites. This groundbreaking exhibition will kick off at the Temple Theatre with a special extended presentation of BLKNWS and a discussion with the editors in chief. Afterwards, audiences can tune in to ambient continuous broadcasts of BLKNWS at Filmmaker Lodge, the Festival Co-op, The Box at The Ray, and other constantly proliferating sites around the Festival. It can also be seen as preshow newsreels in 11 art-house cinemas around the country.

Some Background:


  • Kahlil Joseph

    Joseph is an artist and filmmaker based in Los Angeles, as well as the co-founder/artistic director of exhibition space The Underground Museum. He previously presented the installation DOUBLE CONSCIENCE and the short film UNTIL THE QUIET COMES at Sundance, and has collaborated with other artists, including Beyoncé (LEMONADE), Kendrick Lamar (mAAd), Arcade Fire (THE REFLEKTOR TAPES), FKA Twigs (VIDEO GIRL), and Sampha (PROCESS).


  • Onye Anyanwu

    Anyanwu is a producer of documentary films and music videos. She has worked extensively with Joseph, her husband. Anyanwu previously produced DOUBLE CONSCIENCE and co-executive produced Sundance alumni fiction feature RESTLESS CITY.


  • Sheba Anyanwu

    Anyanwu is a writer and user experience technologist.

  • Lee Harrison

    Harrison is a creative director and editor. He has worked with Joseph to create the official publication for The Underground Museum, and previously the editor-in-chief of Fader magazine.

  • Darol Kae

    Kae is a curator, archivist, and filmmaker, as well as the former program coordinator for The Underground Museum’s Future Filmmakers Program. he currently works at Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY.

  • Helen Molesworth

    Molesworth is a curator of contemporary art, and most recently was chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. She has organized the first major survey of the work of Joseph’s brother, Noah Davis, since his death in 2015, which will move from David Zwirner to The Underground Museum in March.

  • Alzo Slade

    Slade is a correspondent for VICE News Tonight, a documentary/fashion photographer, a stand-up comedian, and a former professor of philosophy.

  • Amandla Stenberg

    Stenberg is an actress (THE HUNGER GAMES, THE HATE U GIVE) and outspoken intersectional feminist.

  • Trifari Williams

    Williams is a veteran television producer and Ifa priestess.


  • Luke Lynch, Paul Rogers, Graham Zeller, Grason Caldwell, Sylvia Herbold, Steven Traylor, Tyler Finnie, Kya Lou, Sam Roberts, Sally Bergom, and Claudius Ansah

    Lynch and Rogers run Parallax Post with Joseph. Zeller and Caldwell have also previously edited work by the artist.

Why You Should Watch:
While not a traditional documentary, Kahlil Joseph combines viral videos, news stories, historical footage, and filmed segments in a video installation/newscast interrogating truth and the media. Using juxtaposition and montage in a deliberate, thought-provoking manner, Joseph provides a multi-voiced counternarrative to typical, negative portrayals of black people and culture in traditional mainstream news. The artist incubated BLKNWS at Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center before presenting it at the Venice Biennale last year, where it gained acclaim.

More Info:
For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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