In 2003, independent filmmaker, M. Asli Dukan set out to make a documentary about the history of Black creators in the genres of science fiction, fantasy and horror. 15 years later, she realized that what she actually documented was the birth of a movement that would lay the foundation for what is now called Afrofuturism. And today, with the artistic and economic success of Black Panther, Afrofuturism has become a global phenomenon. Invisible Universe posits though that the film’s success rests atop an informal network of Black creators, academics and fans forming a culture and seeking out a manifestation of their imagination. What follows is the story of the filmmaker’s experiences documenting the emergence of this speculative Black arts movement.
M. Asli Dukan is an award-winning filmmaker and visual artist who works primarily in the genres of speculative fiction as a subversive artistic and liberatory practice. She has screened at numerous film festivals around the country including, the Newark International Film Festival, the Imagenation Film and Music Festival, the Langston Hughes Film Festival and the Blackstar Film Festival. In 2017, her mixed-media, augmented-reality installation, the “Resistance Time Portal”, which centered Black radicalism in a futuristic narrative, made its debut in the Distance≠Time exhibition at the Icebox Project Space. She has been the recipient of several grants, awards and fellowships, including a 2016 Transformation Award from the Leeway Foundation, a 2016 NBPC 360 fellowship from Black Public Media, a 2018 Philadelphia Independent Media Finishing Fund and a 2018 Flaherty Seminar fellowship. In 2018, she completed Resistance: the battle of philadelphia, a near-future web series about a community’s struggle against surveillance and state violence. She is in production on Invisible Universe, a documentary about Black creators in speculative fiction and in development on the anthology horror film based on the book, Skin Folk by Nalo Hopkinson. She holds an MFA from the City University of New York and currently resides in Philadelphia.
This feature length documentary includes interviews with Black writers of like Samuel R. Delany, the late Octavia E. Butler, Steven Barnes, Tananarive Due, Nalo Hopkinson, Nnedi Okorafor, Brandon Massey and N.K. Jemisin, actors like Nichelle Nichols and Wesley Snipes, filmmakers like Julie Dash and Ernest R. Dickerson, cultural organizers like Yumy Odom and Rasheedah Phillips, scholars like Moya Bailey and Ayana Jamieson, academics/artists like John Jennings and Nettrice Gaskins, social justice workers/artists like adrienne maree brown and Walidah Imarisha, as well as numerous other filmmakers, artists, academics, archivists, fans – a virtual who’s who in the movement.