3½ MINUTES, TEN BULLETS. Marc Silver. 2015.
Examines Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law through the murder of black teenager Jordan Davis in 2012
4 LITTLE GIRLS. Spike Lee. 1997.
An historical documentary that examines the September 15, 1963 murder of four African-American girls (Addie May Collins, Carol Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Rosamond Robertson) in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL.
THE 13th. Ava DuVarnay. 2016.
An exploration of the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on a prison system disproportionately filled with African-Americans, the film looks at the way the 13th amendment abetted a transitioned the country from a dependence on slavery to prison labor.
16 SHOTS. Richard Rowley. 2019.
Examines 2014 murder of 17 year-old Laquan McDonald by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, and the ensuing cover-up, which was brought to light after community protests and demands for justice.
ALMOST FAMOUS: THE LOST ASTRONAUT. BEN PROUDFOOT, 2017.
This short film by Ben Proudfoot taels the story of black astronaut Ed Dwight Jr. Junior had already completed the gauntlet required for astronauts, an extraordinarily taxing regimen, when he was suddenly dropped from NASA’s rolls. During his training, Junior experienced a mix of systemic racism and overt, hateful bigotry. After resigning from the Air Force, Dwight would become a successful entrepreneur, an engineer, and, eventually, a vaunted artist and sculptor whose projects memorialized Black History and rendered it legible in American public space.
BALTIMORE RISING. Sonja Sohn. 2017.
Activists, police officers, community leaders and gang affiliates struggle to hold Baltimore together in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death in police custody.
THE BARBER OF BIRMINGHAM. Gail Dolgin & Robin Fryday. 2011. Short.
Tells the story of James Armstrong, a WWII vet and original flag bearer for the 1965 Selma Montgomery marches, who ran a voter education program out of his barber shop for over 50 years.
THE BLACK LIST: INTIMATE PORTRAITS OF BLACK AMERICA. Volumes 1-3. Timothy Greenfield Sanders. 2008
A companion to The Black List photography exhibit, still available through the National Portrait Gallery. The film is comprised of “living portraits” of a diverse swath of Black leaders, redefining traditional notions of a black list.
THE BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION. By Stanley Nelson Jr., 2015.
First feature-length doc to explore the Black Panther Party, its significance to American culture, its cultural and political awakening for black people & the painful lessons wrought by its dissolution. Full film available on PBS Independent Lens.
BLACK PANTHERS. Agnès Varda. 1968.
A short doc shot in 1967 Oakland as protests began over Huey P. Newton’s arrest for the murder of John Frey.
THE CENTRAL PARK 5. Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon. 2012.
Examines the tragic wrongful conviction of 5 teenagers for the rape of a woman in Central Park in 1989. The young boys spent 13 years in prison for the crime, which was later confessed to by a serial rapist.
DARE NOT WALK ALONE. Jeremy Dean. 2006.
Tracks the aftermath of the civil rights movement in St. Augustine, FL, a site of prolonged interracial tension and noteworthy protests by the NAACP and SCLC, including one over the integration of the Monson Motor Lodge swimming pool, which immediately preceded, and influenced, the signing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964.
THE DEATH & LIFE OF MARSHA P. JOHNSON. David France, 2017.
Chronicles Victoria Cruz’s investigation of the mysterious 1992 death of black, gay civil rights activist and Stonewall veteran Marsha P. Johnson.
EYES ON THE PRIZE. Created by Henry Hampton/Blackside, multiple directors. 2006.
Two-part, 14-hour documentary series on Civil Rights Movement, comprised of archival footage and interviews with activists and opponents of desegregation and civil rights.
FREEDOM RIDERS. Stanley Nelson 2010.
Firelight Media/PBS American Experience. A chronicle of Freedom Riders, a group of 100s of activists who challenged segregation on American transportation and restrooms, and traveled on interstate small interracial groups across the southern states in the early 1960s.
I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO. Dir. Raoul Peck. 2016.
Based on James Baldwin’s unfinished Remember This House, this film explores the history of racism in the U.S. told through Baldwin’s reminiscences of civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as his own observations on American History. Narratted by Samuel L. Jackson.
THE INTERRUPTERS. Steve James, Prod. Kartemquin. 2012
Follows three “Violence Interrupters” in Chicago, who place themselves in the line of fire to protect their communities, and presents their inspired journeys of struggle and redemption. Free on PBS Frontline.
KING IN THE WILDERNESS. Peter Kunhardt. 2018.
A chronicle of the final chapters of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, revealing a conflicted leader who faced an onslaught of criticism from both sides of the political spectrum.
L.A. ’92. Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin. 2017.
A chronicle of the 1992 Los Angeles uprisings comprised entirely of archival footage, giving broad historical and political context for the events that transpired.
LET IT FALL: 1982-1992 LOS ANGELES. John Ridley. 2017.
An in-depth look at the culture of Los Angeles in the ten years leading up to the 1992 uprising that erupted after the verdict of police officers cleared of beating Rodney King.
MORE THAN A MONTH. Shukree Hassan 2012.
PBS Independent Lens. A 29 year-old Black filmmaker travels across the country, stopping in various cities to solicit signatures to end the relegation of black history to a single month of the year.
NEGROES WITH GUNS: ROB WILLIAMS AND BLACK POWER. Sandra Dickson and Churchill Roberts. 2004.
The life story of activist/author Robert F. Williams, his role in the US civil rights movement, his exiles to Cuba and China, and his return from China. It also contains witness testimonies of many of the events described in Williams’ 1962 book Negroes with Guns.
A NIGHT AT THE GARDEN. MARSHALL CURRY. 2017.
This is a 2017 short documentary film about a 1939 Nazi rally that filled Madison Square Garden in New York City. The film was directed by Marshall Curry from footage found by archival producer Rich Remsberg. The seven-minute film is composed entirely of archival footage and features a speech from Fritz Julius Kuhn, the leader of the German American Bund, in which anti-Semitic and pro white-Christian sentiments are espoused. This film uncovered a history of ongoing prejudice in this country that had remained hidden since the second world war.
PARIS IS BURNING, Jennie Livingston, 1990
Chronicles NYC ball culture of the 80s, which were spectacular competitions in drag and gender performance by gay and transgender folks of color during the height of the AIDS crisis. This subculture has received increased visibility over the past 5 years as drag has been popularized across pop culture, including the fictionalized, historical drama, Pose. While this film has long been a staple for queer youth, as they leave the closet behind, it has also come under fire (along with Pose) because it is a film about a community of color made almost entirely by white people. This critique, notably, persists across documentary filmmaking, which has historically put communities of color in front of the camera instead of allocating resources to people of color to allow for self-representation. This is an issue we hope to continue to highlight and reflect on as we make choices for future festivals.
REVOLUTION ’67. Marylou Tibaldo-Bongiorno, 2007.
Non-violence of 60s giving way to uprisings of 1967 across U.S. Part of PBS POV America Reframed series, A multi-part documentary focusing on a six-day Newark uprising on July 12, 1967 which reveals how the disturbance began as spontaneous revolts against poverty and police brutality and ended as fateful milestones in America’s struggles over race and economic justice. Watch for PBS screenings, website full of resources.
RIZE. David LaChapelle, 2005.
Rize chronicles a dance movement that rises out of South Central Los Angeles with roots in clowning and street youth culture.
SAY HER NAME: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF SANDRA BLAND. Kate Davis. 2018.
An investigation into what happened to activist Sandra Bland, who died in police custody after a routine traffic stop.
SCOTTSBORO: AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY. By Daniel Anker and Barak Goodman. 2000.
The history of the “Scottsboro Boys,” a group of African American men who were victims of a racist miscarriage of justice that became a national controversy.
SOUNDTRACK FOR A REVOLUTION. By Biull Guttentag and Dan Sturman. 2009.
About Civil Rights Movement, told through music. the story of the American civil rights movement through its powerful music – the freedom songs protesters sang on picket lines, in mass meetings, and in jail cells as they fought for justice and equality.
STRANGER FRUIT. Jason Pollock. 2018.
Stranger Fruit is the unraveling of the afternoon Officer Darren Wilson killed 18 year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, told through the eyes of Mike Brown’s family.
STREET FIGHT. Marshall Curry. 2005.
On Cory Booker’s campaign to unseat the incumbent mayor of Newark and police mobilization/campaign against him.** Add Night At the Garden? This documentary follows the 2002 mayoral campaign in Newark, New Jersey in which a City Councilman, Cory Booker, attempted to unseat longtime mayor Sharpe James.
THE WATERMELON WOMAN, Cheryl Dunye, 1996
This 1996 rom-com/drama, which was also pivotal to the development of New Queer Cinema, is a documentary about historical elisions, about the erasure of black women and men from histories of Classical Hollywood Cinema. The documentary work performed by this film is as meta-commentary on existing films, which requires an imagined history and a bit of fiction. This is a particularly key work for those interested in how identity is forged through representation, and the ways in which various, often intersectional, identities were sometimes hidden and have been omitted from history.
WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE: A REQUIEM IN 4 ACTS. Spike Lee, 2006-07.
Four-Part Documentary Series. An examination of the U.S. government’s response to Hurricane Katrina.
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