FOR NOW

FR

« Votre silence ne vous protégera pas »

Une puissante déclaration d’Audre Lorde qui peut trouver écho dans l’esprit de tous les groupes ou individus opprimés vivant dans notre société. Le silence dont il est question pourrait aisément être réduit au langage oral, alors qu’une image possède une capacité équivalente — voire supérieure — à se faire entendre. C’est précisément de cela que les images du cinéma que l’on nous présente sont capables.

Vivant actuellement dans une société dominée par la présence forcée de « l’image », le cinéma est et sera à jamais un puissant outil. Dans ce contexte, le cinéma qui nous est donné à voir (sans que nous le cherchions ou le réclamions), est un cinéma qui a l’occasion de soutenir la domination, la suppression et la discrimination institutionnelle. 

« Nous avons commencé à devenir aveugle aux images inlassablement répétées  des groupes les plus stéréotypés de notre société. »

A travers le montage d’images minutieusement éditées, dans un dialogue dont les sons et conversations soigneusement choisis guident le courant de pensées et d’émotions du spectateur, nous avons commencé à devenir aveugle aux images inlassablement répétées  des groupes les plus stéréotypés de notre société. C’est un fait que l’image d’une femme se levant tôt pour préparer le petit-déjeuner et le déjeuner de sa famille, tout en embrassant son mari partant au travail, n’est désormais plus questionnable. Pas plus que celle d’un officier de police blanc, tourmenté, pourchassant le criminel noir ou le terroriste, une visualisation de l’ennemi sans aucune nuance ou aperçu de leur histoire. Ni celle d’une femme noire en train de se préparer pour aller au travail, une femme de ménage quittant sa maison avant le lever du jour. 

La question n’est pas de savoir si le cinéma imite la vie ou si la vie imite le cinéma, puisqu’en continuant à répéter et reproduire les mêmes images, les deux se révéleront vraies. Mais ce sera une vérité limitée. Il est plus facile d’accepter cette représentation qui ne fait que se répéter comme étant l’unique vérité, tout simplement parce qu’elle est la seule qui nous est présentée. Mais cette responsabilité, souvent négligée, que porte le cinéma a un effet plus important sur la société qu’il n’y paraît.

« Vous ne pouvez pas changer les lois sans changer l’image. C’est une chose de dire que nous existons, c’en est une autre de le monter ».

Zanele Muholi.

Depuis la mort de George Floyd, certains membres de Voyons Voir ont commencé à rassembler et à échanger une liste de films relatifs au contexte anti-racial. L’urgence d’une compréhension, de connaissances et d’un aperçu sur le monde dans lequel nous vivons trouve sa place dans le besoin indispensable de changer et remplacer la représentation répétitive du soi-disant « autre ». Pour qu’ils ne soient plus l’antagoniste, l’anti-héros, mais pour leur offrir la position centrale qu’ils méritent : celle d’un protagoniste avec sa propre histoire à raconter.

La liste de films qui vous est présentée n’est pas exhaustive. Pour nombre d’entre nous, c’est un premier pas en terre inconnue, et c’est justement pour cela que nous soutenons les efforts faits par les uns et les autres pour changer cet état des choses, ainsi que l’ardeur qu’ils y consacrent. Nous ne sommes pas détenteurs des droits des synopsis qui accompagnent chaque film, ils proviennent de sources telles que IMDB, Wikipedia, Youtube, Le Centre d’Argos pour les Médias et les Arts, le Courtisane Festival. Ces synopsis ont été écrits par le réalisateur, la réalisatrice ou d’autres. Certains de ces films sont disponibles en ligne, gratuitement ou à petit prix, d’autres attendent de sortir en salle.

ENG

« Your silence will not protect you”

A powerful statement which Audre Lorde once made, that might echo in the minds of all suppressed groups or individuals living within our society. The silence referred to in the statement could all too easily be limited to the spoken word, while an image has an equivalent – or even more powerful – quality to speak out loud. The images presented to us in the world of cinema, can do just that.

As we currently live in a society predominated by the forcible presence of the image, Cinema is and always will be a powerful tool. Within this context, the cinema presented to us (without us searching or asking for it), is a cinema that has the opportunity to sustain institutional domination, suppression, and discrimination. 

« We have started to become blind to the endlessly repeated images of the most stereotyped groups of our society. »

Through finely edited montages of images, in dialogue with precisely chosen sound and conversations guiding the spectator’s stream of thoughts and emotions, we have started to become blind to the endlessly repeated images of the most stereotyped groups of our society. It is a fact that the image of a woman waking up early to make breakfast and lunch for her family while kissing her husband goodbye to go off to work has become no longer questionable nor that of a tormented white male police officer chasing the black criminal or terrorist, the visualization of the enemy with no further nuance or a glimpse of their story; or that of a black woman preparing herself to go to work, a cleaning lady, leaving her house before sunrise. 

The question is not whether cinema is imitating life, or life is imitating cinema, because as we currently keep repeating and reproducing the same images, both will eventually be true. But it will be a truth with limitations. It’s easier to accept this repeated representation as the only truth, simply because it is the only one presented to us, but this often-neglected responsibility that cinema carries has a greater effect on society  than one can grasp.

“You can’t change the laws without changing the image. It is one thing to say we exist, it is another to show it.”

Zanele Muholi

Since the death of George Floyd, some members of Voyons Voir have started gathering and exchanging a list of cinema within the anti-racial context. The urgency for understanding, knowledge and insight about the world we live in, finds it place in the indispensable need to change and replace the repetitive representation of the so called ‘other’, to no longer position them as the antagonist, the anti-hero, but to offer them the central position they deserve : as a protagonist with their own story to tell.


CINEMA

According to… – Kevin Jerome Everson (2007), 9 min 

With a rich source of found and original footage, this short film presents several versions of tragic events in the rural South. 

(Courtisane Festival)

Afronauts – Nuotama Bodomo (2014), 15 min 

It’s July 16, 1969: America is preparing to launch Apollo 11. Thousands of miles away, the Zambia Space Academy hopes to beat America to the moon in this fictionalized film inspired by real events. (Vimeo)

Another Decade – Morgan Quaintance (2018), 27 min

Another Decade combines archive and found footage from the 1990s, with newly shot 16mm film and standard definition video. Focusing on testimonies and statements made by artists, theorists and cultural producers that are still pertinent over two decades later, the film is propelled by the sense reality that very little socio-cultural or institutional change has taken place in the United Kingdom. While recent attention paid to the ’90s casts a largely apolitical and monocultural view over the decade, the work seeks to exhume evidence buried in the shallow grave of cultural amnesia of another, more political, iconoclastic, and confrontational decade that promised a future still yet to arrive.. (LUX, London) 

(online available at Vimeo for 3EUR, 24-hour streaming period)

Atlantique – Mati Diop (2019), 106 min

In a popular suburb of Dakar, workers on the construction site of a futuristic tower, without pay for months, decide to leave the country by the ocean for a better future. Among them is Souleiman, the lover of Ada, promised to another. (IMDb)

Baltimore Rising – Sonja Sohn (2017), 93 min

Baltimore Rising follows activists, police officers, community leaders and gang affiliates, who struggle to hold Baltimore together in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death in police custody. (IMDb) (available at HBO documentaries)

Bamako – Abderrahmane Sissako (2006), 115 min

Bamako. Melé is a bar singer, her husband Chaka is out of work and the couple is on the verge of breaking up… In the courtyard of the house they share with other families, a trial court has been set up. African civil society spokesmen have taken proceedings against the World Bank and the IMF whom they blame for Africa’s woes… Amidst the pleas and the testimonies, life goes on in the courtyard. Chaka does not seem to be concerned by this novel Africa’s desire to fight for its rights… (IMDb)

Banlieusards – Kery James (2019), 96 min

Le destin de trois frères issus d’une banlieue sensible de la région parisienne. Soulaymaan, élève avocat à Paris, réussit brillamment ses études. Demba, l’aîné, vit aux rythmes du trafic et de la rue. Leur petit frère Noumouké, 15 ans, cherche encore sa voie, et doit choisir auquel de ses deux grands frères il veut ressembler. Jusqu’au jour où surviennent une bagarre, un coup de feu, un drame. (Les Films du Fleuve) (Available on Netflix)

Black Bus Stop – Kevin Jerome Everson (2019), 9 min

This film pays tribute to the Black Bus Stop, an informal yet iconic gathering spot for black students on the campus of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville in the eighties and nineties. Young people could be found there listening to music, talking politics, dancing, flirting. Today, under the glare of the moonlight, black fraternity and sorority members reclaim these hallowed grounds as they chant and sway to the rhythms and memories of the past. – Claudrena N. Harold (Cinéma du Réel)

Black Code / Code Noir – Louis Henderson (2015), 21 min

Black Code / Code Noir unites temporally and geographically disparate elements into a critical reflection on two recent events: the murders of Michael Brown and Kajieme Powell by police officers in USA 2014. Archaeologically, the film argues that behind this present situation is a sedimented history of slavery preserved by the Black Code laws of the colonies in the Americas. These codes have transformed into the algorithms that configure police Big Data and the necropolitical control of African Americans today. Yet how can we read in this present? How can we unwrite the sorcery of this code as a hack? Through a historical détournement the film suggests the Haitian Revolution as the first instance of a hacking of the Black Code and thus as a past symbol for a future hope. (LUX London)

Black Girl – Ousmane Sembène (1966), 65 min

In Ousmane Sembene‘s Black Girl, a woman named Diouana (Mbissine Thérèse Diop) works as a governess for a French family with whom she traveled from Senegal to the south of France. She hoped that taking a job in France would provide her with the opportunity for a better life. But soon after arriving in Antibes, problems within her employers’ household begin to heap ever-heavier burdens on her, and it quickly becomes clear that her potential to attain a better life is out of her hands. (Film Inquiry)

Black Panthers – Agnès Varda (1968), 31 min

A short film of interviews and protests at a rally to free Huey P. Newton. (IMDb)

Black Power Mixtape: 1967-1975 – Göran Olsson (2011), 100 min

For three decades, the film canisters sat undisturbed in a cellar beneath the Swedish National Broadcasting Company. Inside was roll after roll of startlingly fresh and candid 16mm footage shot in the 1960s and 1970s in the United States, all of it focused on the anti-war and Black Power movements. When filmmaker Göran Olsson discovered the footage, he decided he had a responsibility the shepherd this glimpse of history into the world. With contemporary audio interviews from leading African American artists, activists, musicians and scholars, The Black Power Mixtape 1967 – 1975 looks at the people, society, culture and style that fuelled an era of convulsive change. Utilizing an innovative format that riffs on the popular 1970s mixtape format, Mixtape is a cinematic and musical journey into the black communities of America. (Independent Lens)

Bless their little hearts – Billy Woodberry (1983), 80 min

A key masterpiece of the L.A Rebellion, Bless Their Little Hearts distills the social concerns and aesthetics of that trailblazing movement in African American cinema. Billy Woodberry’s film showcases his attentive eye, sensitivity to the nuances of community and family, and the power of the blues. (Milestone Films)

Blood Ah Go Run – Menelik Shabazz (1982), 20 min

This short film looks back at 1981, an important year in the annuals of Black British history. A year that began so tragically with the death of 13 young black people in a fire  during a birthday party in New Cross, London.  This incident shook up the black community and caused a national outrage.  Many people were convinced that it was a racist attack – continually denied by the police. No one was ever arrested or charged with this crime – till this day. The anger in the Black community led to the greatest march of Black people on the streets of London.  This march of anger and solidarity was called Black Peoples Day of Action. This film captures exclusive footage of this march that went from Depford, South London through the centre of London. (Menelik Shabazz)

Carry On – Mieriën Coppens (2017), 12 min

Individuals wait, silence is heard, a microscopic attention through a tired mass. If the film is almost mute, it is because it focuses on silent figures, although their struggle is deafening. 

(Courtisane Festival)

Come Back Africa – Lionel Rogosin (1959), 95 min

Lionel Rogosin’s 1959 powerful classic Come Back, Africa is one of the bravest and best of all political films. After witnessing firsthand the terrors of fascism as a soldier in World War II, Lionel Rogosin vowed to fight against it wherever and whenever he saw it reemerging. In an effort to expose “what people try to avoid seeing,” Rogosin travelled to South Africa and secretly filmed Come Back, Africa, which revealed the cruelty and injustice suffered by black and colored peoples under apartheid. (Milestone Films)

Concerning Violence – Göran Olsson (2014), 90 min

Concerning Violence is both an archive-driven documentary covering the most daring moments in the struggle for liberation in the Third World, as well as an exploration into the mechanisms of decolonization through text from Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth. Fanon’s landmark book, written over 50 years ago, is still a major tool for understanding and illuminating the neocolonialism happening today, as well as the violence and reactions against it. (Cinema Politica)

Contras’ City – Djibril Diop Mambéty (1969), 22 min

A fictional documentary that portrays the city of Dakar, Senegal, as we hear the conversation between a Senegalese man (the director, Djibril Diop Mambéty) and a French woman, Inge Hirschnitz. The film makes us look at the city of Dakar, its people, architecture, politics, social behavior, the white French tourists, and especially the influence of France’s culture and its contrast with the indigenous culture of Senegal pre-colonization but still present in Dakar. (IMDb)

Copwatch – Camilla Hall (2017), 95 min

Copwatch follows WeCopwatch, an organization dedicated to filming police brutality. Among its members are the individuals who captured the original videos of the deaths of Eric Garner in Staten Island and Freddie Gray in Baltimore that ignited the entire nation. (Rotten Tomatoes)

Daughters of the Dust – Julie Dash (1992), 120 min

At the beginning of the 20th century several generations of the Gullah community – former West African slaves who adopted many of the Yoruba traditions of their ancestors – campaigned on the Sea Islands off the coast of South Carolina for the preservation of their cultural heritage and folklore. At the same time they were preparing for migration to the mainland, thereby further distancing themselves from their original roots. Daughters of the Dust was the first major cinema release by a black woman filmmaker and met with great critical acclaim when it was premiered in 1991. (Bozar)

Do the Right Thing – Spike Lee (1989), 120 min

The film tells the story of growing racial tension in a Brooklyn neighborhood, which will culminate in causing tragedy during the heat of a summer day. (IMDb)

Eason – Kevin Jerome Everson (2016), 15 min

Part of the one-hundred anniversary of the great Black migration in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Eason is loosely based on the life of James Walker Hood Eason (1886-1923) a long time member of the UNIA of Philadelphia. (Courtisane Festival)

Fastest Man in the State – Kevin Jerome Everson (2017), 10 min

Kent Merritt waxing poetically about being one of the first four Black scholarship athletes at the University of Virginia. (Courtisane Festival)

Fruitvale station – Ryan Coogler (2013), 90 min

Fruitvale Station is a 2013 American biographical drama film written and directed by Ryan Coogler. It is Coogler’s feature directorial debut and is based on the events leading to the death of Oscar Grant, a young man who was killed in 2009 by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle at the Fruitvale district station of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system in Oakland. (Wikipedia)

Green Book – Peter Farrelly (2018), 130 min 

In 1962, when segregation reigned, Tony Lip, an Italian-American bouncer from the Bronx, was hired to lead and protect Dr. Don Shirley, a world-renowned black pianist, on a concert tour. During their journey from Manhattan to the Deep South, they use the Green Book to find establishments welcoming people of color, where Shirley will not be refused service and where he will not be humiliated or ill-treated. (IMDb)

Hampton – Kevin Jerome Everson (2019), 7 min

Finds the University of Virginia gospel choir, Black Voices, returning from a triumphant concert in Hampton Roads. 

(Courtisane Festival)

Handsworth Songs – John Akomfrah and Black Audio Film Collective (1986), 70 min

Handsworth Songs is a richly-layered documentary representing the hopes and dreams of post-war black British people in the light of the civil disturbances of the 1980s. John Akomfrah (b. 1957) is a British artist, writer, film director, screenwriter, theorist and curator of Ghanaian descent, whose “commitment to a radicalism both of politics and of cinematic form finds expression in all his films”. A founder of the Black Audio Film Collective in 1982, he made his début as a director with Handsworth Songs, which examined the fallout from the 1985 Handsworth riots. Handsworth Songs went on to win the Grierson Award for Best Documentary in 1987. In the words of The Guardian, he “has secured a reputation as one of the UK’s most pioneering film-makers [whose] poetic works have grappled with race, identity and post-colonial attitudes for over three decades.” (Tate)

Hidden Figures – Theodore Melfi (2016) 127 min 

The extraordinary fate of the three African-American scientists who made it possible for the United States to lead the space conquest, thanks to the putting into orbit of astronaut John Glenn. Kept in the shadow of their male colleagues and in that of a country plagued by deep inequalities, their 

long-forgotten history is finally brought to the screen. (IMDb)

I am not your Negro – Raoul Peck (2016), 95 min

This 93-minute feature documentary is narrated by Samuel L. Jackson and is inspired by James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript, Remember This House, a collection of notes and letters written by Baldwin in the mid-1970s.The memoir recounts the lives of his close friends and civil rights leaders Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Medgar Evers. (IMDb)

If There Weren’t Any Blacks You’d Have To Invent Them – Charles Jarrott (1968), 55 min

The setting is a cemetery peopled by a collection of recognizable types. The central thread, concerning a young man who is ‘accused’ by a blind man of being black, opens an examination of race and religion, color and creed, and death and disease. The play poses an eternally relevant question: is the desire for segregation an inherently human trait?

Integration Report 1 – Madeline Anderson (1960), 20 min

Now recognized as the first documentary directed by an African American woman, Madeline Andersons’ “Integration Report 1” examines the struggle for black equality in Alabama, Brooklyn and Washington, D.C., incorporating footage by documentary legends Albert Maysles and Ricky Leacock, protest songs by Maya Angelou, and a speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. Initially intended as the first in a series of such “Integration Reports,” Anderson’s film stands as a testament to the courage of the workers and activists at the heart of her films as well as her own bravery, tenacity and skill. Anderson’s films are essential historical records of activism and a vital body of cinematic work. (Vimeo) (Online available on Vimeo for 3,53 EUR, 48-hour streaming period)

James Baldwin, Interviewed by Kenneth Clark “The Negro and the American Promise” (24 Mai 1964), 20 min

Killer of Sheep – Charles Burnett (1977), 83 min

Set in the Watts area of Los Angeles, a slaughterhouse worker must suspend his emotions to continue working at a job he finds repugnant, and then he finds he has little sensitivity for the family he works so hard to support. (IMDb)

L’Angle Mort – Patrick-Mario Bernard, Pierre Trividic (2019), 104 min

Dominick Brassan a le pouvoir de se rendre invisible. Il ne s’en sert pas beaucoup. À quoi bon, d’ailleurs ? Il a fait de son pouvoir un secret vaguement honteux, qu’il dissimule même à sa fiancée, Viveka. Et puis vient un jour où le pouvoir se détraque et échappe à son contrôle en bouleversant sa vie, ses amitiés et ses amours. (AlloCiné)

La Petite Vendeuse de Soleil – Djibril Diop Mambéty (1999), 45 min

Sili, jeune mendiante de 12 ans, s’aventure dans les nouveaux quartiers de la ville pour tenter de gagner un peu d’argent en vendant Le Soleil, célèbre quotidien sénégalais, dont le commerce est depuis longtemps réservé aux garçons. (Cinémathèque)

La 92 – Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin (2017), 120 min

Consisting entirely of archival footage, the documentary chronicles the 1992 Los Angeles riots after 25 years have passed. It includes film and video from the 1965 Watts Riots, the 1973 election of Tom Bradley, the 1978 promotion of Daryl Gates, the shooting of Latasha Harlins, the Rodney King videotape and the subsequent riots and violence that erupted after the acquittal of the officers involved in King’s beating.The footage includes public pronouncements by U.S. President George H. W. Bush, presidential candidate Bill Clinton, California governor Pete Wilson, chief of the Los Angeles Police Department Daryl Gates (questioned by the LA city council at one point), judge Joyce Karlin, US Congresswoman Maxine Waters, victim Rodney King, and acquitted police officers Stacey Koon and Laurence Powell (Wikipedia)

Les Misérables – Ladj Ly (2019), 104 min

Stéphane, tout juste arrivé de Cherbourg, intègre la Brigade Anti-Criminalité de Montfermeil, dans le 93. Il va faire la rencontre de ses nouveaux coéquipiers, Chris et Gwada, deux “Bacqueux” d’expérience. Il découvre rapidement les tensions entre les différents groupes du quartier. Alors qu’ils se trouvent débordés lors d’une interpellation, un drone filme leurs moindres faits et gestes… (AlloCiné)

Les Statues Meurent Aussi – Alain Resnais, Chris Marker (1953), 30 min

Partant de la question « Pourquoi l’art africain se trouve-t-il au musée de l’Homme alors que l’art grec ou égyptien se trouve au Louvre ? », les deux réalisateurs dénoncent le manque de considération pour l’art africain dans un contexte de colonisation. Le film est censuré en France pendant huit ans en raison de son point de vue anti-colonialiste. (France Culture)

Let it fall : los Angeles 1982 to 1992 – John Ridley (2017), 144 min

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. (IMDb)

Makala – Emmanuel Gras (2017), 96 min

Au Congo, un jeune villageois espère offrir un avenir meilleur à sa famille. Il a comme ressources ses bras, la brousse environnante et une volonté tenace. Parti sur des routes dangereuses et épuisantes pour vendre le fruit de son travail, il découvrira la valeur de son effort et le prix de ses rêves. (AlloCiné)

Mues (Skinnings) – Daniel Nehm (2017), 19 min

Mues is a film of many shadows and only few but glaring lights. It follows the transformation of an intimate place in the outskirts of Paris, home to immigrants and myths, into a prestigious real estate project. The journey of the building is mirrored in a hurtful switch from 16mm footage to a computer simulation. While mastering the risk to get lost in the jungle of voices passing the troubled spot that is a Parisian banlieue today, Daniel Nehm captures an ‘image juste’ of contemporary transformation via the act of cleansing, ignoring and the destruction of dreams.” (Patrick Holzapfel) 

Nikki Giovanni and James Baldwin Talk (1971), 116 min

A Talk with Nikki Giovanni and James Baldwin in SOUL, about the process of writing, being a black writer and generational differences as Nikki Giovanni is at that point of time much younger than James Baldwin.

No Maps on My Taps – George Nierenberg 

(1979), 60 min

The golden age of tap dancing spanned the first half of the twentieth century and featured extraordinary artists, including Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, John Bubbles, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and Eleanor Powell. But by the 1950s, many fans were staying home to watch television and the nightclubs that supported tap dancers were starting to close. As the popularity of rock n’ roll grew, audiences moved away from the jazz and Broadway music that tappers relied on. At the same time, young choreographers like Bob Fosse were creating a new form of dance for musical theater — less tap oriented and more related to modern dance. Increasingly, tap was performed by only the old hoofers and was considered nostalgic, even comedic. (Milestone Films)

Our Africa – Alexander Markov (2018), 45 min

1960. The USSR starts humanitarian aid programs based on Marxist ideology in several newly independent African countries. For more than 35 years the Soviets expanded their influence in Africa. Soviet filmmakers are sent along to document the glorious advance of socialism on the entire continent. After the fall of the Soviet empire, Russia lost all political interest in Africa, but thousands of kilometers of footage shot on African soil remain. With the help of filmmakers from back then, Our Africa aims to recreate the time of the “Great Utopia” and expose the mechanisms behind the creation of propaganda films. (Argos, Centre for Audiovisual Arts)

Ouvrir la voix – Amandine Gay (2017), 129 min

Documentaire sur les femmes noires issues de l’histoire coloniale européenne en Afrique et aux Antilles. Le film est centré sur l’expérience de la différence en tant que femme noire et des clichés spécifiques liés à ces deux dimensions indissociables, “femme” et “noire”. Il y est question des intersections de discriminations, d’art, de la pluralité de nos parcours de vies et de la nécessité de se réapproprier la narration. (Allociné)

Paris est une fête (un film en 18 vagues) – Sylvain George (2016), 95 min

« Et c’est encore, et c’est toujours l’enfer du séjour inchangeable. Des chiens sans laisse, mais non sans crocs, pleurent en hurlant, un maître féroce, auprès d’une tombe fraîche. Il y a un grand appel d’on ne sait quoi de grave. » (Henri Michaux)

“A film-poem in 18 waves, as many scenes to describe Paris and its urban landscapes crossed by a “young isolated underage foreigner,” the attacks, the white roses, the state of emergency, the blue-white-red flag, the Atlantic Ocean and its crossings, volcanos, beat-box, revolt, rage, state violence, revolutionary songs, silence, and joy… nothing but joy.” (Sylvain George) 

Queen & Slim – Melina Matsouka (2019), 132 min

A couple’s first date takes an unexpected turn when a police officer pulls them over. (IMDb)

Right On! – Herbert Danska (1970), 78 min

Billed as “a conspiracy of ritual, street theater, soul music, and cinema,” Right On! is a pioneering performance film, a compelling record of radical Black sentiment in 1960s America, and a precursor of the hip-hop revolution in musical culture. It features the original Last Poets—Gylan Kain, David Nelson, and Felipe Luciano—performing 28 numbers adapted from their legendary appearance at New York’s Paperback Theater in 1969, shot guerilla-style on the streets and rooftops of lower Manhattan. (MoMA)

Say Amen, Somebody – George T. Nierenberg 

(1983), 100 min

One of the most acclaimed music documentaries of all time, Say Amen, Somebody is George Nierenberg’s masterpiece — a joyous, funny, deeply emotional celebration of African American culture, featuring the father of Gospel, Thomas A. Dorsey (“Precious Lord, Take My Hand”); its matron, Mother Willie Mae Ford Smith; and earth-shaking performances by the Barrett Sisters and the O’Neal Twins. When it was first released in the early 1980s, the film received an overwhelming critical response, garnering rave reviews around the world. (Milestone Films)

Say her name: the life and death of Sandra Bland – Kate Davis and David Heilbroner (2018), 104 min

An investigation into what happened to activist Sandra Bland, who died in police custody after a routine traffic stop. (IMDb)

Second and Lee – Kevin Jerome Everson (2008), 3 min

A cautionary tale about when not to run. It uses archival reportage and voiceover recollection to trace through repetitive corridors of presumption, justice and judgment. (Courtisane Festival)

Selma – Ava DuVernay (2014), 120 min

A chronicle of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965. (IMDb)

Seven Songs for Malcolm X – John Akomfrah and Black Audio Film Collective (1993), 52 min

Seven Songs for Malcolm X is a British documentary film about the life of Malcolm X, the influential civil rights activist who was assassinated in 1965. (IMDb)

Several Friends – Charles Burnett (1969), 21 min

Charles Burnett’s first 16mm student film, Several Friends, showcases his early facility with a documentary approach to fiction, his ability to draw out eccentric and endearing characterizations from an ensemble of nonprofessional actors, and his sensitivity to the expressive possibilities of everyday, working class props and locations. (UCLA Library, Film and Television Archive)

Strange Victory – Leo Hurwitz (1948), 70 min

This rarely seen, stylistically bold documentary equals the visual, poetic brilliance of Battleship Potemkin and I am Cuba while delivering an extraordinary cry from the heart to make a better place for our children. Skillfully combining documentary footage of World War II battles, postwar refugees, and the Nuremberg trials with powerful dramatic reenactments, Hurwitz wove an extraordinary cinematic portrait of postwar American Fascism. How could it be, the film asked, that servicemen returned home from defeating a racist and genocidal enemy found the United States plagued by racism, Jim Crow, anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism, and xenophobia?

Strange Victory — a cry for equality and justice — was promptly branded “pro communist” and a financial flop. Hurwitz was blacklisted from film and television for more than a decade and Virgil Richardson (a former Tuskegee Airman), who portrayed a black vet in the film, chose to emigrate to Mexico to escape to US racism. (Milestone Films)

Sugarcoated Arsenic – Kevin Jerome Everson (2013), 20 min

A cinematic exploration of African American intellectual, social, and political life at the University of Virginia during the 1970s. The film tells the story of African American women and men who through their public and private gestures sought to create a beloved community that thrived on intellectual exchange, self-critique, and human warmth. (Courtisane Festival)

Teach us all – Sonia Lowman (2017), 80 min

On the eve of the 60th anniversary of the 1957 Little Rock school desegregation crisis, educational inequality remains among the most urgent civil rights issues of our time. With its school district hanging in the balance following a state takeover in January 2015, Little Rock today presents a microcosm of the inequities and challenges manifesting in classrooms all across America. Through case studies in Little Rock, New York City, and Los Angeles, Teach Us All seeks to bring the critical lessons of history to bear on the current state of U.S. education and investigate: 60 years later, how far have we come-or not come-and how do we catalyze action from here? (IMDb)

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution – Stanley Nelson Jr. (2015), 115 min

This documentary tells the rise and fall of the Black Panther Party, one of the 20th century’s most alluring and controversial organizations that captivated the world’s attention for nearly 50 years. (IMDb)

The Boy Who Painted Christ Black – John Henrik Clarke (1996), 30 min

Aaron learns in a segregated school in Georgia. There are five main characters; the first one is Aaron, a talented boy, with big drawing skills, that one day decided to draw a painting for his teacher for her birthday, and drew Christ black. (Youtube)

The Colour of Fear – Lee Mun Wah (1994), 90 min

Eight North American men, two African American, two Latinos, two Asian American and two Caucasian were gathered by director Lee Mun Wah, for a dialog about the state of race relations in America as seen through their eyes. The exchanges are sometimes dramatic, and put in plain light the pain caused by racism in North America. —Fabrice Guerini (IMDb)

The Death And Life of Marsha P. Johnson – David France (2017), 105 min

Victoria Cruz investigates the mysterious 1992 death of black gay rights activist and Stonewall veteran, Marsha P. Johnson. Using archival interviews with Johnson, and new interviews with Johnson’s family, friends and fellow activists. (IMDb)

The Last Angel of History – John Akomfrah and Black Audio Film Collective (1996), 45 min

Framed by the fictional story of the “data thief”, this hybrid documentary takes a look at the origins, impact and significance of Afrofuturism and techno music for the black diaspora. (IMDb)

The Reverend E. Randall T. Osborn, First Cousin – Kevin Jerome Everson (2007), 4 min.

One of Everson’s signature archival films that reveal the construction of performance and portrayal in a minimally edited interview with Martin Luther King’s first cousin about police brutality during race riots in Cleveland Ohio. 

(Courtisane Festival)

The Watermelon Woman – Cheryl Dunye (1997), 81 min

Cheryl is a twenty-something black lesbian working as a clerk in a video store while struggling to make a documentary about Fae Richards, an obscure black actress from the 1930’s. Cheryl is surprised to discover that Richards (known popularly as “the Watermelon Woman”) had a white lesbian lover. At the same time, Cheryl falls in love with a very cute white customer at the video store. (Row House Cinema)

Tongues Untied – Marlon Riggs (1989), 55 min

Marlon Riggs’ essay film Tongues Untied gives voice to communities of black gay men, presenting their cultures and perspectives on the world as they confront racism, homophobia, and marginalization. It broke new artistic ground by mixing poetry, music, performance and Riggs’ autobiographical revelations. The film was embraced by black gay audiences for its authentic representation of style, and culture, as well its fierce response to oppression. It opened up opportunities for dialogue among and across communities. (California Newsreel)

Tonsler Park – Kevin Jerome Everson (2017), 80 min

Shot in four different polling stations in Charlottesville, Virginia, one of them being Tonsler Park, an African- American neighbourhood that was named after Benjamin Tonsler, a local black school director who continued to teach African-American pupils during segregation, the film opens with the mainly African-American public officials swearing the oath of allegiance, part of their duty being “to prevent fraud, deceit and abuse”. Importantly, the film puts African-American people to the fore in a democratic process that has systematically sought to exclude them. (Cinéma du Réel)

Traffic Stop – Kate Davis and David Heilbroner (2017), 31 min

Traffic Stop tells the story of Breaion King, a 26-year-old African-American school teacher from Austin, Texas, who was stopped for a routine traffic violation that escalated into a dramatic arrest. Caught on police dashcams, King was pulled from her car by the arresting officer, repeatedly thrown to the ground and handcuffed. En route to jail in a squad car, she engaged in a revealing conversation with her escorting officer about race and law enforcement in America. The documentary juxtaposes dashcam footage with scenes from King’s everyday life, offering a fuller portrait of the woman caught up in this unsettling encounter. (IMDb)

Un Pays Plus Beau Qu’avant – Hannes Verhoustraete (2018), 66 min

Un Pays Plus Beau Qu’avant is a documentary film about a Congolese businessman in Brussels. The wanderings of Jean-Simon reveal a microcosm of informal commerce within the Congolese community. The everyday economic urgency of this ‘humble salesman’ is tied to the political and humanitarian urgency that animates the diaspora faced with the situation in Congo today and with Belgian colonial history. The film revolves around these two imperatives, in a negotiation between here and elsewhere, the past and the present. (Cassette, Timescapes)

UPRIZE! – Sifiso Khanyile (2017), 60 min

A cultural voyage and homage into what shaped what we know today as the 1976 Soweto Uprising. Using the protests as a backdrop for creative and cultural influences of the late 60s and early 70. Cultural workers who were artists/writers/musicians/thinkers/teachers/policy makers/journalists and participants of the protests, as well as the youth themselves, speak about the world that shaped the youth of 1976. (Vimeo)

We Demand – Kevin Jerome Everson (2016), 10 min

The story of the anti-Vietnam War Movement from the perspective of James R. Roebuck, a northern- born African American who studied at the University of Virginia during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Over a ten-day period of unprecedented student upheaval at the University, Roebuck, the first African American president of UVA’s Student Council, confronted a series of political challenges and existential dilemmas. (Courtisane Festival)

Whose streets? – Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis (2017), 103 min

Told by the activists and leaders who live and breathe the Black Live Matters movement for justice, Whose Streets? is an unflinching look at the Ferguson uprising. When unarmed teenager Michael Brown is killed by police and left lying in the street for hours, it marks a breaking point for the residents of St. Louis, Missouri. (Music Box Theatre)

Workers Leaving the Job-Site – Kevin Jerome Everson (2013), 7 min

Another take, another era, another factory, shot in Mississippi in summer 2012, this is a riff on the Lumière Brothers classic 1895 film. (Courtisane Festival)

When They See Us – Ava DuVernay (2019), web television miniseries in 4 parts

Based on events of the 1989 Central Park jogger case. It explores the lives and families of the five male suspects who were falsely accused then prosecuted on charges related to the rape and assault of a woman in Central Park, New York City. (Wikipedia) (Available on Netflix)

You Got To Move – Lucy Massie Phenix (1985), 85 min

You Got to Move is a documentary by Lucy Massie Phenix and Veronica Selver that follows people from communities in the Southern United States in their various processes of becoming involved in social change. The film’s centerpiece is the Highlander Folk School, a 50-year-old center for education and social action that was somehow involved in each of the lives chronicled. The film shows footage of peaceful, yet somber protests, tells the tales of educators who sought to teach reading and writing skills so that blacks could pass voting requirements in the 1950s and 60s, and reveals the change in lifestyle that Highlander brought to some people who felt that they could contribute nothing to the communities they cared about without a formal education. Each of the individuals in the film was involved in some of the most highly significant movements in American history, from organizing labor rights to the Civil Rights Movement and environmental efforts against the effects of strip mining and toxic waste dumping. You Got to Move features the music of the South and dwells on the courage of those who confront and change reality. (Dennis Doros)

3 1/2 minutes 10 bullets – Marc Silver (2015), 98 min

A car pulls up to a gas station with four teens inside. They’re blasting rap music. Michael Dunn will pull up alongside the boys, and say to his fiancée Rhonda, “I hate that thug music.” 3 and a half minutes and 10 bullets later, Jordan Davis is dead. 3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets is a chilling, heartbreaking documentary which dissects the aftermath of the tragic murder of Jordan Davis, and nakedly puts on display the inequities and systemized racism of the American judicial system. (Sundance Festival) (Online available at HBO Documentairies)

13th – Ava DuVernay (2016), 100 min

The film explores the “intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States;” it is titled after the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, adopted in 1865, which abolished slavery throughout the United States and ended involuntary servitude except as a punishment for conviction of a crime. (Wikipedia) (Available on Netflix)

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