During this time when our society is confronting matters of racism and inequity, many distributors, production houses, and other entities are making available films and resources pertaining to these issues.
At Bryn Mawr Film Institute, we believe that cinema can serve many functions, including raising awareness, generating empathy, and stimulating change. In the coming weeks, we’ll continue to update this page with additional resources as they become available, with the hope of helping to spark the conversations necessary to engage with these critical issues. At BMFI, we know that we have work to do if we are going to be part of the solution. We can start by highlighting some voices that need to be heard. It’s not the only thing we can do, and these resources are not exhaustive, but they are places to start.
BMFI has compiled a list of films worth seeing that discuss racism and injustice in Black communities. This list is not exhaustive, but it is a place to start. See the list and where you can stream each film here.
The annual BlackStar Film Festival is a rich and valuable presence in the Philadelphia area’s cinema culture, celebrating work by Black, Brown, and Indigenous people from around the world. This year’s fest will be taking place online from August 20 to August 26. See the lineup and purchase tickets on the BlackStar website.
With its live programming canceled due to the pandemic, the African Diaspora International Film Festival (ADIFF) is presenting its first-ever virtual fest. From Friday, July 24, to Thursday, July 30, ADIFF will present fourteen films telling socially relevant and meaningful stories about people of color all over the world, available to view for free. Visit the website to view the lineup and obtain virtual viewing passes.
Spike Lee’s seminal 1989 film about racial tensions and police brutality in Brooklyn was made available to stream for free through June, courtesy of Universal Pictures and the American Film Institute. Learn where to stream or rent the film here. After you watch the film, check out a recent conversation between Lee and comic W. Kamau Bell about Do the Right Thing on the AFI’s YouTube channel.
This original, contemporary work produced by Opera Philadelphia, which follows five Philadelphia teenagers squatting in the condemned West Philly townhouse that was once the headquarters of the MOVE organization, is streaming for free as part of the Digital Festival O through August 31. The companion student guide is rich with information about opera as an art form, details behind this commissioned production, writing exercises crafted around themes presented in this opera, and pieces of Philadelphia history that provide context to the performance.
Ava DuVernay’s Oscar-nominated exploration of the deep-rooted racial inequalities in America’s prison system is available to stream for free on Netflix’s YouTube channel.
This Oscar-nominated documentary, composed of archival footage of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., has been newly restored by the Library of Congress to its complete three-hour version. Kino Lorber has made it available to view for free.
This gripping film, which traces the years of clashes, political conflict, and racial tension between the MOVE organization and Philadelphia Police that culminated in one of the darkest days in Philadelphia’s history, was available to stream for free during the month of June, courtesy of Kino Lorber and Zeitgeist Films. Learn where to stream or rent the film here.
Filmmaker Yance Ford documents the convergence of racial injustice, grief, and family after the murder of his brother in this Oscar-nominated documentary, made available to stream free on Netflix’s YouTube channel.
Selma, Ava DuVernay’s 2014 dramatic telling of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1965 march for voting rights in Selma, Alabama, was made available to stream for free through June, courtesy of Paramount Pictures. Learn where to stream or rent the film here.
This 2019 drama, based on the work of civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson, was made available for free streaming through the month of June, courtesy of Warner Bros. Learn where to stream or rent the film here.
Monsters and Men, Reinaldo Marcus Green’s 2018 debut feature about a police shooting of an unarmed black man, is streaming for free on YouTube courtesy of NEON Rated. The distributor also has provided a discussion guide to help facilitate deeper conversations about the film and its themes. Find the YouTube link and more information on the distributor’s site.
The Criterion Channel has lifted its paywall for select films that portray and explore Black lives, so you can view them without being a subscriber. Available films include works from filmmakers like Oscar Micheaux, Maya Angelou, Charles Burnett, Julie Dash, and many more. Read more about The Criterion Channel’s offer in this article from IndieWire.
PBS just announced an extensive schedule of streaming and broadcast programs that address race and racism in America. The line-up includes films with historical context by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Stanley Nelson, and rebroadcasts from series like Frontline, POV, and Independent Lens.
Filmatique, a boutique streaming service for contemporary arthouse and world cinema, has released an Anti-Racist Viewing Guide of the titles currently available in their library. Redeem your free, extended three-month trial of Filmatique with BMFI’s link.
Ava DuVernay’s production company has launched a new online learning initiative, ARRAY 101, which provides free learning guides as tools for furthering social justice. The first program is a supplement to DuVernay’s Netflix series, When They See Us. Lessons, tools, and activities are available for each episode, and designed for anyone interested in expanding their knowledge of social justice and advocacy, grade 9 and above.
On Tuesday, September 22, at 7:00 pm, the Center for Visual Culture at Bryn Mawr College presents “Cinematic Slavery: the Longue Durée of Social Death”, a virtual lecture by Dr. Frank B. Wilderson, III, examining public debates around race through the films 12 Years a Slave (2013) and Manderlay (2005). The event is free, but registration is required.
This article from Vanity Fair scrubs the Netflix catalog for anti-racism films worth viewing. Spoiler: none of them is The Help.