Heartfelt Films To Watch This Black History Month
For decades, black Americans and other people of color experienced limitations in potential roles that came about in television and film. Growing up, I always found it to be disappointing that many of the films on TV had a lack of characters that truly represented who I am and what I look like. The only roles that did have people that were like me were all cliché roles . That is why in the past couple of years, it has become a delight to see black American history, as told in history books and what little known facts the community already has an understanding of. So, grab some snacks or wine ( or whatever your drink preference is babe ), and take a look at some astronomical (and my favorite) 21st century black films to be made!
I came across this film on a Halle Berry twitter feed a couple weeks ago and was instantly drawn to the trailer’s effective portrayal of the plot. Kings is a romance drama starring Berry as Millie Dunbar, a single mother of eight adopted children living in Southern Los Angeles. One of her neighbors Obie ( who is the only white man in her neighborhood) form an unlikely bond during the race riots in the early ‘90s amidst the Rodney King assault , polarizing people’s views on culture and day to day safety.
The historical drama written by Paul Webb and directed by boss babe Ava DuVernay takes place in 1964 as Martin Luther King Jr. of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference accepts his Nobel Peace Prize .After that accomplishment, four black girls at the 16th St. Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama were killed by a bomb set by the Ku Klutz Klan amongst other travesties happening in Alabama. King and other activists decided to do their civil rights march in Selma to the state’s capital Montgomery to stand up for the rights of citizens. The passionate and compelling film is a haunting premonition of the fate many of the pioneers in the movement faced.
Moonlight is a beautiful coming of age story for all to see, about a young boy growing up in the crack epidemic of Miami, Florida , his struggle with sexuality , and ideas of what it means to be a man. This harrowing and intimate portrayal of a young man into adulthood grappling these emotions is so real you want to hug him through the screen and tell him you love him.
This dark comedy / drama (that was filmed on an iPhone!) chronicles Sin-Dee Rella (Kitana Kikki Rodriquez), a transgender sex worker who just finished a 28-day stint in the pen. She meets up with her friend at a coffee shop only to reveal to her that her boyfriend and pimp has been cheating on her the duration of her prison stay. The twists and turns and raw emotion in this film are relatable and fresh, as Sin-Dee Rella and her friend search high and low down the neighborhoods of Hollywood for her boyfriend and his mistress . This film did an amazing job at shedding light on one of Los Angeles’ most distinctive sex-trade subcultures which is worth noting.
I remember my mom and grandma squealing for joy when this movie debuted. Per the delight, it was insisted ( upon their request) that we all go to the movies to see it which I was not objecting to one bit. The Help ( which was what black domestic workers at the time were called) centers around an aspiring young journalist Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan ( Emma Stone) and her two black maids Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer) and Aibileen Clark ( Viola Davis) in Mississippi during the civil rights movement. Skeeter, who is opposed to inequality, decides to write a book from the perspective of the maids , exposing the disrespect and racism they faced at the hands of white families. The charmingly witty humor juxtaposes the backdrop of the time in such a delectable way that will break your heart but put the pieces back together to heal.
Steve McQueen doesn’t disappoint with this harrowing depiction of Solomon Northrup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a violinist and free man who lives in Upstate New York. He unfortunately gets kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South years prior to the Civil War. In his subjection to an evil slave owner, he finds refuge and kindness in another slave named Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o) All while struggling to survive and maintain the last bits of his dignity in a world so cruel . Once he reached his 12th year in captivity , he encountered an abolitionist from Canada who helped him reach the freedom he deserved . It’s hard to watch this film more than once due to the agonizing reality and trauma.