Sundance: 'Judas and the Black Messiah,' 'Captains of Zaatari' Join 2021 Lineup

Black Messiah and Captains of Zaatari
Glen Wilson/ Warner Bros. Pictures; Courtesy of Ambient Light

Daniel Kaluuya plays Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in Shaka King's drama for Warner Bros., while Ali El Arabi will bring his Syrian refugee camp documentary to Sundance's mostly virtual event.

Warner Bros.' Judas and the Black Messiah, where Daniel Kaluuya plays Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, and Egyptian director Ali El Arabi's documentary Captains of Zaatari have joined the Sundance Film Festival's 2021 lineup.

Director Shaka King's film about the assassinated Black Panther activist, produced by Ryan Coogler, will have a digital bow from Sundance on Feb.1. Set in the 1960s, Judas and the Black Messiah is told from Hampton's perspective as he rises to the top of the Illinois Black Panther Party, and through the eyes of William O'Neal, the FBI informant who infiltrated the activist group and is played by Lakeith Stanfield.

The ensemble cast includes Jesse Plemons, Dominique Fishback, Lil Rel Howery and Martin Sheen.

Sundance also booked a Jan. 31 world bow for El Arabi's Captains of Zaatari, a doc about two best friends, Mahmoud and Fawzi, who are trapped in the sprawling Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, on Syria's border, and dream of becoming professional football players. When a famous sports academy scout visits the camp, both have a chance to make their dreams come true.

Sundance's latest lineup additions, coming as Hollywood's Oscar season kicks into gear, will bow on the festival's bespoke digital platform, while King's Fred Hampton drama will also play on 17 physical theater screens across the U.S., if allowed by public health authorities.

“In a year where our festival already exemplifies the vanguard of bold, visionary storytelling from around the world, they help further expand our boundaries," Sundance festival director Tabitha Jackson said in a statement. Her festival is set to unveil an online hub and U.S. industry partnerships to carry out a coronavirus-era indie film showcase to run from Jan. 28 to Feb. 3.

Sundance for its 73 features lineup this year has already unveiled U.S. drama competition titles like Sian Heder's Coda, starring Oscar winner Marlee Matlin; Christopher Makoto Yogi's ghost tale I Was a Simple Man, starring Constance Wu; Clint Bentley's Jockey, toplined by Clifton Collins Jr., Molly Parker and Moisés Arias; and John and the Hole, Pascual Sisto's directorial debut that stars Charlie Shotwell.