MVAAFF 2022: 10 Must-See Films Playing at “The Summer’s Finest Film Festival”

Celebrate Black cinema at the 20th edition of MVAAFF which runs from August 5–14.

By FTW Staff


A little-known fact about Martha’s Vineyard is the resort community’s extensive Black history. Martha’s Vineyard belonged to a list of various summer locations where affluent Black families could rest, socialize, and just have fun at an oasis of their own. As captured by Stanley Nelson in his 2004 documentary, A Place of Our Own reflects on the significance and changing landscape of the Black resort community in the famed New York resort. The Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival pays tribute to that legacy by celebrating Black cinema and its innovations.

This year’s programming includes independent films, feature documentaries, and star-studded panel discussions featuring talents like Spike Lee, Tyler Perry, Michael Ealy, Patina Miller, and the cast of Peacock’s “The Best Man: The Final Chapters.” For the full lineup and tickets visit the MVAAFF website.

Here’s FREE THE WORK’s guide to the must-see films of the 2022 Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival:

“This Old House”

Robin Cloud

FREE THE WORK creator Robin Cloud is a Los Angeles-based comedian, writer, and director. Her first narrative short, Out Again, was executive produced by Refinery29 as part of their Shatterbox Anthology. Cloud is a 2017 Kickstarter Creative Fellow, a graduate of Lena Waithe’s Hillman Grad mentee program, and was recently accepted into the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women class of 2020.

This Old House tells the story of an aging diva whose reality comes into question when she wakes to find that her house has been placed on the market.

Exploring ideas of memory loss, aging, and gentrification, FREE THE WORK creator Robin Cloud tells a sobering story of losing one’s home.


Deondray Gossfield, Quincy LeNear Gossfield

Deondray and husband Quincy LeNear Gossfield are award-winning filmmakers and producers who began their directing careers when they won Best Experimental Short Film in Showtime’s Digital Media Festival in 2000 with their micro-short, Had U.

Flames follows two childhood friends: Ahmad, a streetwise, college-bound scholar on the precipice of a new, bright future, and Sadik, a rehabilitated hooligan grappling with his identity, find themselves alone together before Ahmad’s graduation party in the woods.

The directing duo is a part of the Hillman Grad’s Rising Voices Program featuring executive producer Lena Waithe and sister production duo, 271 Films.

“Blackness Unbound: Afrofuturism and the Revolutionary Imagination”


Dir: Birthh

Blackness Unbound is an experimental documentary that gives the viewer a fly-on-the-wall view of a discussion between six Black people as they consider how the tenants of Afrofuturism help them navigate race in America following the 2020 racial justice uprisings.


Kryzz Gautier

Kryzz Gautier is a queer, Afro-Latina writer/director born and raised in the Dominican Republic. When it comes to programs and fellowships, Kryzz has been selected for some of the most prominent ones including Ryan Murphy’s “Half Initiative” for emerging episodic directors, Jill Soloway’s “Disruptors” fellowship for the ten best emerging television writers of color, The Black List’s 2020 Episodic Fellow, two Sundance Institute Fiction Fellowships, the DGA’s “Commercial Director’s Diversity Program”, Women In Film’s “INSIGHT” fellowship, and The National Association Of Latino Independent Producers’ (NALIP) “Latino Lens: TV Pilot Incubator” to name a few.

Keep/Delete tells the story of a future world where memories are handled like computer files, and two lovers decide to undergo a procedure and have their entire relationship wiped from their brains. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with a twist!

“F^¢K ‘€M R!GHT B@¢K”

Harris Doran

F^¢K ‘€M R!GHT B@¢K follows a queer, Black Baltimore rapper who must outwit his “out to get him” day job boss in order to avoid being fired after he accidentally takes drugs.

Through comedic relief, the film explores some of the realities and systemic barriers that queer, Black people face daily. Co-written by Emanuel DDm Williams, who stars as Sammy, and is a rapper/musician in real life. Their music is featured throughout the film.

“The Bond”

Jahmil Eady

Jahmil Eady earned her BA in Media Studies from Pomona College and studied film at the Prague Film School in Czech Republic. She has been a documentary associate producer on projects for Oprah Winfrey Network, Viceland, and Discovery Networks. She wrote and directed Heartland (2020) and The Bond (In Post). She is passionate about humanistic storytelling and highlighting lived experiences that often go unseen.

The Bond dives into the shocking truth of the daily lives of being pregnant and incarcerated, and the systemic struggles pregnant people, particularly Black pregnant people must face while incarcerated

“The Sun Rises In The East”

Tayo Giwa and Cynthia Gordy Giwa

Tayo Giwa and Cynthia Gordy Giwa are a husband-and-wife filmmaking team and the creators of Black-Owned Brooklyn, a publication and Instagram account documenting local Black business, history, and culture. In this work, they seek to preserve and celebrate stories that are often erased in gentrified Brooklyn.

The Sun Rises in The East chronicles the birth, rise, and legacy of The East, a pan-African cultural organization founded in 1969 by teens and young adults in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

“But Tomorrow”

Phillip Shung

Lin Que Ayoung is an award-winning Black queer writer/director/producer who started her career as a Hip Hop Performer and Lyricist. Lin Que Ayoung’s films grapple with the tension between humanity’s beauty, humor, and horror. She utilizes storytelling to cultivate her artistic boldness with the hope that her creative authenticity can touch and awaken the authenticity in others.

Nominated for Best Short at MVAAFF by Warner Bros., “But Tomorrow traces the first day of high school for Manhattan student Crystal. Her eagerness to make an impression results in unwanted repercussions. O

“Sweet Black Film”

Sweet Black Film

A touching tribute to Melvin Van Peebles whose 1971 feature film Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song’ ushered in the blaxploitation era in American cinema. The documentary retraces the history of the making of the iconic film following along with stories and records from the Van Peebles family and fellow filmmakers.

“The Last Days”

Dipo Baruwa-Etti

Dipo Baruwa-Etti is a playwright, filmmaker, poet, and dramaturg. As writer-director, his short films include the award-winning The Last Days, a BFI Network/BBC/Tannahill Productions film starring Adjoa Andoh and Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn. As a playwright, Dipo was the 2020 Channel 4 Playwright on attachment with the Almeida Theatre and shortlisted for the George Devine Most Promising Playwright Award that same year with his play When Great Trees Fall.

In a near-future world where you can discover your Death Day, an apolitical woman (BRIDGERTON’s Adjoa Andoh) learns that she and many Black people have been given incorrect dates and seeks justice before her time runs out — that same day.

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FREE THE WORK is a non-profit organization committed to making equity actionable in media and to creating opportunities for a global workforce of talent.