Seven Up-and-Coming Black Directors You Should Know

Never mind the dearth of black talent represented at this year's Oscars. In the coming years, these talented auteurs may be bringing home some of those little gold statues.

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Tanya Hamilton; Rashaad Ernesto Green; Ava DuVernay

With tonight's 2011 Academy Awards, there's been a lot of focus on this year's "blackout," the lack of African Americans nominated for awards. Of course, like the Grammys and other awards shows, the Oscars don't necessarily validate or confirm the greatness of a work; a good film speaks for itself, whether or not it's getting love from the people handing out awards.

With that in mind, The Root decided to take a look at up-and-coming black directors who we predict will be forces in the film industry, whether or not they're recognized by the Academy Awards. You will find that what this diverse set of directors has in common is passion, skill, talent and the ability to tell stories in a way that resonates with various audiences. We'll be watching them -- and so should you.

Tanya Hamilton

With Night Catches Us, Hamilton made her feature-film directing debut with a cerebral film about the complications of love in the post-Black Panther era. With her use of animation and painterly cinematography, Hamilton demonstrated a keen ability to tell a story that is different from anything else on the cinematic scene, with large themes and compelling characters. (She managed to pull in some A-list talent as well: Kerry Washington and Anthony Mackie star in this small independent film.) If you think Hamilton is aiming for something more mainstream for her next project, think again. Her upcoming Tribe will explore the lives of two Native American brothers, one of whom is half black.

Why She's One to Watch: She's not afraid to take on topics that no one else will.

Salim Akil

This Oakland, Calif., native knows his way around relationships on film and television, over the years working steadily as a writer, producer and director. He got his start writing and co-producing the critically acclaimed Drylongso. He then worked as a writer, director and eventual executive producer on Showtime's hit series Soul Food. Akil added his talent and vision to Girlfriends, serving as a writer, producer and director, and then to the wildly popular show The Game, executive-produced by his wife and business partner, Mara Brock-Akil. Akil served as director on Jumping the Broom, starring Angela Bassett, Paula Patton, Laz Alonso and Loretta Devine. The film opens Mother's Day weekend.

Why He's One to Watch: He's got the skills to move between television and film projects without sacrificing his integrity.

Patrik-Ian Polk

Patrik-Ian Polk is bringing LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) issues to the big and small screens through great storytelling and intriguing characters. The Mississippi native has managed to move gay stories and subject matter from the margins to the center of the film world, producing and directing films that give voice to a population that has previously been silenced or represented solely through a humorous lens.

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