For the upcoming holiday season, here are four films to consider spending your time watching. They are about as wide-ranging as it gets and include some holiday counter-programming, some potential controversy, and stuff that is right up anyone’s alley.

Here they are:


Now available on most streaming platforms, Chris Hansen’s 7 Short Films About Our Marriage could arguably be the indie film antidote to the Hallmark-style “wrap up holiday relationships in a pretty bow” programming, this year. The film follows the relationship of an interracial couple, Noah and Madison, artists who begin their marriage as most couples do – sure that love will solve all problems and overcome all hurdles that could be thrown at them. But just as they will face a learning curve on changing the world through their art – he’s a filmmaker and she’s a dancer – they learn, through time and experience, that marriage isn’t all about the great times. It’s also about the arguments over petty stuff and bigger stuff, and the longstanding resentments that can wear away at the strongest of unions. A festival favorite featuring award-winning performances by Chynna Walker and Drez Ryan, 7 Short Films About (Our) Marriage tells a story of raw authenticity in seven episodes spanning fourteen years of marriage as two people who love each other reckon with racism, career challenges, medical issues, and more. 


Written and directed by Dorie Barton (Girl Flu.), Welcome to the Show is the epitome of counter-programming for the holiday family film onslaught. The film begins when an invitation to a mysterious theatre piece, “The Show,” sends four college friends spending a Thanksgiving break together for the last time down a rabbit hole of mistrust and confusion as they try to figure out who are the actors, who is the audience, who is doing this to them, and why. Morality gets twisted, friendships get tested, and the only thing holding four best friends together is the fractured belief that there must be some kind of logic to the madness. The film stars four newcomers making feature debuts (Richard Follin, Dillon Douglasson, Keegan Garant, and Christopher Martin).  


Directed by Rachel Boynton (Our Brand Is Crisis), Civil War (or, Who Do We Think We Are) is currently available for streaming on NBC Peacock. Urgent, yet nuanced, the film travels across the United States, exploring how Americans tell the story of their Civil War. Filmed from the last year of Obama’s presidency through the present, it interweaves insightful scenes and touching interviews filmed in the North and South, painting a uniquely crafted, multi-faceted portrait of the American psyche and the deep roots of its turbulent times. With subtlety and determination, Civil War portrays a nation in denial, haunted by an embittered past and the stories it refuses to tell. 


It isn’t often that you can describe a film as being a legitimate headscratcher or kinda crazy in concept, but Adah Edeh Obekpa’s The American King fits the bill in that regard. A film that explores the themes of the controversial 1619 Project within the trappings of a Coming to America/King Ralph comedy? Try that on for size. Seriously. Or not. 

The film follows the experiences of Sebastian, (who may or may not actually be rapper/music artist Akon, you figure it out…), an ex-con trying to keep a few steps ahead of some dangerous, yet overly sensitive Russian gangsters he owes money to. Suddenly he gets an unbelievable offer to escape it all courtesy of a mysterious High Priestess who seeks to fulfill a 400-year-old Prophecy: choose an American who will become King of an ancient African kingdom, and restore it to the global superpower it once was. Soon, the CIA and the Vice President scramble to determine what’s going on, leading to the unravelling of the most guarded Secret about the founding of the United States of America. So, while Sebastian tries to rise to the occasion and lead while under attack from his party-minded friends, traitorous advisors, and a corrupt corporation, the President sees an opportunity to use the situation to become the greatest President in history, but only if he decides to support this upstart American King and…Make Africa Great Again.