Our goal is to change the way readers think about the history of movies
May 31, 2016 3:11 PM   Subscribe

In order to expand the discussion of black cinema beyond #OscarsSoWhite, Slate put together a panel of cinema experts and historians to create The Black Film Canon - fifty important films by black directors, showcasing the black cinematic voice spanning over half a century. (SLSlate)
posted by NoxAeternum (10 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
So I just learned that Medicine for Melancholy came out in 2008 and my "oh, I should see that" response has been hanging in the air for almost a decade. Yipes.
posted by psoas at 3:31 PM on May 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Damn, only 7 of them. I need to get to work. I'd also suggest Beyond the Lights!
posted by JauntyFedora at 3:58 PM on May 31, 2016

I don't have time at the moment to get into the cultural significance of Rudy Ray Moore, but I have exactly enough time to say that I find his absence from this list to be very disappointing.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 4:44 PM on May 31, 2016

Wow, I'm surprised I've seen 10 of these!
posted by maggiemaggie at 4:59 PM on May 31, 2016

Yes! This is what film history and criticism needs more of!

Love that Blood of Jesus is on there as an example of race films. These were movies by black filmmakers for black audiences, and they spanned all genres, from serious drama to westerns. The cast were often actors who played subservient or demeaning roles in Hollywood pictures by day ("I figured I could play a maid for $100 a week, or be one for $10"), but by night they were the leading men and women, playing the heroic sheriff or the young mother scraping by. The movies played in movie palaces in places like Harlem and DC's Shaw neighborhood, and a lot of them are still standing today (I know the Howard Theater reopened recently after decades empty).

If you can find it, the documentary In the Shadows of Hollywood interviews a lot of the people behind the race films of the period, and it's fascinating. There's also a few books, but I can't recall any titles offhand.
posted by teponaztli at 5:07 PM on May 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

Some quality viewing here. I really love Do the Right Thing and Killer of Sheep, both of which nail a time and place in different ways. Speaking of which, the list definitely tends toward recent films — were nine of the 50 best films by black directors really released in 2012 and later?

Of films I've seen, I would have also considered Boyz N the Hood, Moolaadé, Hunger, Sign 'o' the Times (that would be in my top three, to be honest) and, yeah, Dolemite.
posted by Mothlight at 5:08 PM on May 31, 2016

Always glad to see Hollywood Shuffle get some love. While some of the cultural references have dated, the satire is quite depressingly still relevant.
posted by praemunire at 5:17 PM on May 31, 2016

Hehe, I rewatched Medicine for Melancholy like 2-3 years back and had a little chuckle over the guy looking up the girl on MySpace. Other than that though, it really has stood up. You should watch it!
posted by sunset in snow country at 5:20 PM on May 31, 2016

There are so many good films here that I'm willing to overlook the absence of Ganja & Hess. (Seriously, though: see Ganja & Hess.)
posted by pxe2000 at 5:40 PM on May 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Made me scroll clear to the bottom to see if they included Oscar Micheaux. Yup.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:49 PM on May 31, 2016

« Older The Fire Next Time   |   Wacky Town Names Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments