Criterion now streaming black filmmakers’ movies for free

Criterion now streaming black filmmakers' movies for free

The Criterion Channel has announced that it is now streaming, free of charge, a collection of movies made by black filmmakers that offer an intimate and real portrayal of black lives.

Criterion made the announcement through its official Twitter page, posting a simple written message rendered as an image, and a short but direct three-word caption.

Apart from offering free streaming of black films, Criterion has also confirmed that it will be initiating an employee-guided fund.

The purpose of this fund is to pledge financial support for various organizations and groups that are advocating against racism in the United States.

The fund has already been started via an initial cash pledge of US$25,000 [AU$35,865], with Criterion committing to give US$5,000 thereafter on a monthly basis.

The films being streamed for free

The Criterion Channel has assembled a roster of black films that range from old releases to relatively recent movies, all made by notable black artists.

  • Body and Soul (released in 1925). Directed by legendary director Oscar Micheaux, this film has been chosen by the Library of Congress for inclusion in the National Film Registry for its historical, cultural, and aesthetic significance.
  • The Scar of Shame (released in 1929). This silent film directed by Frank Perugini is one of the earliest movies in history that feature an entire cast of black performers.
  • Portrait of Jason (released in 1967). This documentary feature from Shirley Clarke follows the life of Jason Holliday, a hustler who was black and gay.
  • Black Panthers (released in 1968). Director Agnes Varda shot this short documentary in Oakland, California, while protests over Huey P. Newton’s arrest for the murder of John Frey was going on.
  • Symbiopsychotaxiplasm (released in 1968). Noted black documentarian William Greaves directed this highly experimental documentary feature, which has since been chosen for preservation in the National Film Registry.
  • Cane River (released in 1982). Directed by Horace B. Jenkins, this romantic drama centers around the lives of several black people living in Louisiana.
  • Losing Ground (released in 1982). This semi-autobiographical movie is based in part on the life of director Kathleen Collins. The film is widely recognized as the first full-length feature movie directed by an African-American woman since the 1920s.
  • Suzanne, Suzanne (released in 1982). This short documentary film tackles the story of a young black woman dealing with personal and family-related issues.
  • My Brother’s Wedding (released in 1983). Helmed by Charles Burnett, this dramedy peers into the conflicted life of Pierce Mundy as he deals with friends either dead or in prison while being stuck in a dry cleaner job, with his brother about to wed a black woman from the upper-middle class.

The list from the 1990s to 2000s

  • Daughters of the Dust (released in 1991). Directed by Julie Dash, this is the first feature film directed by a black woman distributed in theaters in America.
  • The Watermelon Woman (released in 1996). This is the full-length feature film of Cheryl Dunye, whose body of work often tackles issues related to racism, sexuality, and gender, as experienced by black lesbians.

  • Down in the Delta (released in 1998). Author Maya Angelou directs this drama movie, which starred Oscar nominee Alfre Woodard, Al Freeman Jr., and Wesley Snipes.
  • And When I Die, I Won’t Stay Dead (released in 2015). This documentary is directed by Billy Woodberry and tells the story of the poet Bob Kaufman.

  • Black Mother (released in 2018). Shot in Jamaica, this movie from Khalik Allah depicts the everyday lives, hopes, dreams, and struggles of the people living in the Caribbean island nation.
  • Shakedown (released in 2018). It is a documentary film directed by Leilah Weinraub and portrays an early 2000s L.A. black, lesbian strip club.

Featured image courtesy of criterioncollection/YouTube Screenshot

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