The “Paradox of Expectation”…it’s the idea that wanting to rid yourself of expectations is a paradox – literally the expectation of no expectation. In these six films from emerging Black filmmakers, what the protagonists experience as the world they woke up to is not the one from which they’re now appearing. Are they lying to themselves about who they are, or is the truth just not what they expect, but what they deserve?

Statement from the Curator: Curtis Caesar John, The Luminal Theater



In this collection of six shorts, filmmakers gaze at themselves and their world, attempting to make sense of what they see reflected back. From gripping drama to heart-warming comedy, Our Right to Gaze: Black Film Identities features timely stories from Black artists that take us outside of the ordinary.

Love in Submission by Antu Yacob & Lande Yoosuf

Worlds collide when two different Muslim women meet each other for the first time through a mutual third party.

“My work explores identity, migration, the complexities of love, and the multi-layered experiences of women of the African diaspora.”

Filmmaker Bio: Antu Yacob was born in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia and raised in San Francisco and Minnesota. She is a filmmaker, producer, writer, actor, and playwright.  

The Black Banshee by Kyla Sylvers

Convinced by her friends and boyfriend to enjoy a night out after losing her job, Yvie begins to question her own mind when the visions she’s been having start to have dangerous consequences.

“My work focuses on genre-bending narratives that center black women, with elements of history sprinkled throughout.”

Filmmaker Bio: Kyla Sylvers is an actress, writer, and producer who currently resides in NYC. In 2017, she co-founded Melanin & Magic Productions in the hopes of putting black women’s voices in the forefront of their own narrative. Kyla has produced, written, and acted in three of their production, short films The Black Banshee & The Way Out, as well as web series Finding Our Way. She is currently working on two sci-fi shorts and a sci-fi, comedic feature about our education system.

A Hollywood Party by Toryn Seabrooks

An aspiring TV host encounters her lifelong idol at a Hollywood party but is mortified after the superstar accidentally spits on her lip mid-conversation.

“I’d describe my cinematic style as seriously absurd and colorfully dark.”

Filmmaker Bio: Toryn Ashbury Seabrooks is an African American film director, producer, screenwriter and graduate of NYU Tisch. She began her career in Hollywood on the set of Grown-ish and Keeping Up With the Kardashians while spearheading her own content that infused black comedy with nuanced coming-of-age tales.

Auntie Zariyah by Zora Bikangaga

Zach crashes with an auntie he’s never met before and soon finds out that Auntie Zariyah is a 12-year-old influencer.

“Some central themes in my work are family, grief, and the search for connection.”

Filmmaker Bio: Zora Bikangaga is a Ugandan-American actor/writer/director based in LA. He studied screenwriting at UCLA and improv/sketch at the Upright Citizens Brigade and Groundlings Theatre. Zora’s professional credits include Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, This American Life, Drunk History, Raven’s Home, The Late Late Show with James Corden, and the romantic comedy, The Wedding Year.

Nowhere by Lin Que Ayoung

A middle-aged Latina flees her controlling husband for a night of unadulterated freedom.

“My artistic influences include Hitchcock, Kubrick, Wong Kar-wai, Park Chan-wook, Chloé Zhao, and Ava DuVernay”

Filmmaker Bio: Lin Que Ayoung is a writer, director, and producer from New York City. Lin is a two-time winner of the BAFTA-NY scholarship, the winner of the 2018 New York Women in Film and Television Scholarship, and the recipient of NYU’s 2018 First Run Film Festival Craft Award for her film, The Dreamer. Her latest short and thesis, Cracked, which won the 2019 Spike Lee Production Fund grant, is a true story based on her childhood.

Pandemic Chronicles by Ya’ke Smith

A three-part anthology series about love, loss, and grief during the quarantine.

“My style is high art told through a socially-conscious lens.”

Filmmaker Bio: Ya’Ke Smith’s films have received worldwide acclaim, screening and winning awards at 100+ film festivals. He has received honors from the Director’s Guild of America, the Student Academy Awards, HBO, and Showtime. He is currently an Associate Professor of Film and Associate Dean at UT Austin’s Moody College of Communication.

Content Advisory:

Pandemic Chronicles includes nudity and mature content

Nowhere includes sexual situations and relationship abuse

The Black Banshee includes police violence