When Culture Commentary Meets Time Travel, Check Out the Film ‘See You Yesterday’

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The Hub’s Entertainment Watch List: See You Yesterday

Late African-American writer Charles R. Saunders, published an essay in the 1970s with the title “Why Blacks Don’t Read Science Fiction,” and it provided commentary on the prevalence of anti-Blackness within the genre. This notion can also be seen when it comes to the Black communities’ engagement with science fiction films. Despite having limited representation in the genre, one creative decided to challenge this concept by making his debut film one for Black sci-fi lovers.

New York native Stefon Bristol released his first feature film, See You Yesterday on Netflix in 2019. The film is based on Bristol’s NYU short thesis film with the same name and is influenced by films such as Back To The Future and Do The Right Thing. Bristol was taught by Do The Right Thing creator, Spike Lee, and he served as a producer on the project.  

The story follows CJ (Eden Duncan-Smith), a young Black female science prodigy, and her equally intelligent best friend, Sebastian (Danté Crichlow). Together the two develop a makeshift time machine that allows them to go back in time in an attempt to save CJ’s older brother from a police shooting. Calvin, the reason behind the time travel is played by rapper Brian Vaughn Bradley Jr., who is better known as Astro

While the teen prodigies try to master the art of time travel, they are also taught a valuable life lesson which is that you can not change the past. After the loss of her brother, CJ becomes fixated on time travel but ends up doing more harm than good with her repeated trips back in time. Each visit she makes inadvertently alters the present day, but viewers may find her determination to be admirable. 

Ultimately, Bristol is able to weave the futuristic concept of time travel with relevant cultural commentary. Individuals who are not sci-fi enthusiasts can still find enjoyment in the film’s storytelling. The 87-minute film takes you between dimensions to address police brutality and Black innovation while also leaving viewers to ponder the potential outcomes of time travel. 

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