Kahlil Joseph (filmmaker)

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Kahlil Davis, known professionally as Kahlil Joseph (born 1981), is an American filmmaker, music video director, and video artist. Joseph is known for creating "intellectually and emotionally dense short films" that center on the experience of African Americans in the United States.[1]

Early life[edit]

Joseph was born in Seattle[2] and grew up in Sacramento, California. His father Keven Davis was a prominent sports and entertainment attorney and his younger brother Noah Davis was a painter and museum curator.[1]

He attended Loyola Marymount University but did not graduate. Joseph's own approach to filmmaking was influenced by his study of the work of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the Thai director of experimental films.[1]

Commercial work[edit]

Joseph has worked as an assistant to the photographer Melodie McDaniel and at the commercial film production company Directors Bureau in Los Angeles. He has directed a commercial for British telecomms company O2 and a short film for the luxury brand Kenzo.[1][3]

Joseph has directed music videos for Shabazz Palaces, Sampha, and Kendrick Lamar, among others. His companion video for the Flying Lotus album "Until the Quiet Comes" was included in an exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia curated by the artist Kara Walker.[1]

Joseph was the original director approached by Beyoncé Knowles to direct the companion film to her 2016 concept album Lemonade. After seeing Joseph's cut of the film, a "dark" vision of "grief and sisterhood", she chose to re-shoot much of the film with a number of different directors. Knowles has since allowed Joseph's version of Lemonade to be screened at art museums. [1]


Black Mary is a short film shot by Joseph featuring a Harlem jam session that included Lauryn Hill, Kelsey Lu, and Alice Smith. The film, inspired by the jazz portraiture of Roy DeCarava, was included in the exhibition "Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power" at Tate Modern in 2017.[2] The New Museum hosted an exhibition of Joseph's installation Shadow Play in 2017.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Joseph is married to Onye Anyanwu, a film producer. They have a daughter, Zora, named for the novelist Zora Neale Hurston.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Als, Hilton (6 November 2017). "Now's the Time". The New Yorker. Condé Nast. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  2. ^ a b Abraham, Amelia (19 October 2017). "How artist Kahlil Joseph restored faith in the music video". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  3. ^ Manning, Emily (23 March 2015). "is kahlil joseph hip hop's most important video director?". i-D. Vice Media. Retrieved 31 October 2017.

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