High school students, faculty and staff from Dunn School gather in lobby of Metropolitan Camino Real Cinemas in Goleta. (Courtesy photo)

There was a buzz on the campus of Dunn School in Los Olivos last week as students and staff talked about the anticipated release of “Black Panther” movie sequel “Wakanda Forever,” which members of the Dunn community would be able to watch together.

The residential boarding and day school took a caravan of more than 70 high school students, teachers, family members from the middle and upper schools, as well as Guy Walker, chair of the Board of Trustees, to Metropolitan Camino Real Cinemas in Goleta for a Sunday screening of Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”

“Community-building has rarely been more crucial than it is in today’s post-pandemic world,” said Kalyan Balaven, Dunn head of school. “Watching a movie together is an intimate act of community building, and to come together over a film that has a core message centered on the importance of building community and connection across difference makes for a powerful moment.

“Wakanda is symbolic of what I want Dunn to be, a vibrant and diverse community that’s committed to uplifting each other. That’s why we offered to take the whole school to see it. Dunn Forever.” 

Riding the momentum of the first entry in the series, 2018’s “Black Panther,” “Wakanda Forever” both celebrates the life and mourns the loss of franchise lead actor Chadwick Boseman, who died of colon cancer at just 43 years old in 2020 — creating another significant cultural moment for minority representation in cinema. 

Building on its theme of sharing community across differences, “Wakanda Forever” introduces a fictional culture based on actual native Mesoamerican history, and places that community in a position where it seeks partnership with the film’s returning protagonists to varying degrees of conflict and resolution.