Direct Links to Movies Below the Fold
June 4, 2020 7:36 PM   Subscribe

"We are using our streaming platform, the Criterion Channel, to highlight films that focus on Black Lives [and] we’ve taken down the paywall on as many of these titles as we can, so even if you aren’t a subscriber you can watch them for free."

Daughters of the Dust (Julie Dash)
Down in the Delta (Maya Angelou)
Symbiopsychotaxiplasm Take One (William Greaves)
Losing Ground (Kathleen Collins)
The Watermelon Woman (Cheryl Dunye)
My Brother's Wedding (Charles Burnett)
Shakedown (Leilah Weinraub)
Black Mother (Khalik Allah)

And two documentaries by whites which focus on the Black experience:

Portrait of Jason (Shirley Clarke)
A Well Spent Life (Les Blank)

In an email to subscribers, the company also says, "We are also committed to examining the role we play in the idea of canon formation, whose voices get elevated, and who gets to decide what stories get told" and have committed to a fund which will make donations to organizations which fight racism in America.
posted by dobbs (29 comments total) 61 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh man, including that Shirley Clarke film is complicated. I'm still not sure how to talk about the exploitative aspects of Portrait of Jason. Jason is such a fascinating character, but the discomfort of watching a visibly drunk/high black subject be goaded by a white filmmaker off camera as the night wears on.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 7:43 PM on June 4 [3 favorites]


Rewatching Spike Lee's Bamboozled these decades later is sort of a heady experience. Not on Criterion, but recommended.

I will have to check out these films. Thanks for the heads up!
posted by hippybear at 7:50 PM on June 4


Wow, this looks like some amazing stuff.

I don't see a page on the Criterion site where they're listing these or talking about this initiative, but just out of curiosity, I checked for Agnes Varda's Black Panthers, and it LOOKS like even non-subscribers can watch the whole half-hour film.

I am really glad to know about this - thank you so much for sharing this with us, dobbs.
posted by kristi at 8:03 PM on June 4


Here's the full text of the email sent to subscribers:

Dear Criterion community,

This has been a powerfully emotional time. The disproportionate toll that COVID-19 has taken on communities of color; the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Tony McDade; and the casually lethal racism of the Central Park dog walker who called the cops on bird-watcher Christian Cooper have once again thrown into sharp focus the inescapable reality of systemic racism in our society and the many kinds of violence it inflicts on black Americans every day.

Black Lives Matter. The anguish and fury unleashed all across the country are rooted in centuries of dehumanization and death. This pattern must stop. We support the protesters who have taken to the streets to demand justice, and we share their hopes. We are committed to fighting systemic racism.

We’ve met as a company and a community to talk openly about the work we need to do to build a better, more equitable, more diverse Criterion, beginning with education and training for our ownership and our staff. We are also committed to examining the role we play in the idea of canon formation, whose voices get elevated, and who gets to decide what stories get told.

Today we are establishing an employee-guided fund with a $25,000 initial contribution and an ongoing $5,000 monthly commitment to support organizations fighting racism in America, including bail funds, community organizations, legal defense funds, and advocacy groups that address police reform. If you follow us on Twitter or Instagram, we’ll keep you informed of the organizations we’re supporting.

We are also using our streaming platform, the Criterion Channel, to highlight films that focus on Black Lives, including works by early pioneers of African American Cinema such as Oscar Micheaux; classics by Maya Angelou, Julie Dash, William Greaves, Kathleen Collins, Cheryl Dunye, and Charles Burnett; contemporary work by Khalik Allah and Leilah Weinraub; and documentary portraits of black experience by white filmmakers Les Blank and Shirley Clarke. We’ve taken down the paywall on as many of these titles as we can, so even if you aren’t a subscriber you can watch them for free.

We are grateful for your continued support and hope that you will join us in speaking out and making a meaningful commitment to battling systemic racism in our country.

Sincerely,
Peter Becker and Jonathan Turell
posted by dobbs at 8:11 PM on June 4 [4 favorites]


Would also be a good time to catch some of Marlon Rigg's films. The one I'm most familiar with is 'Color Adjustment' (1992), from the PBS series POV, about TV portrayals of African Americans. Looks like there are few places you can watch it on-line for free. Here's link to it on vimeo.com.
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 8:20 PM on June 4 [4 favorites]


> hippybear:
"Rewatching Spike Lee's Bamboozled these decades later is sort of a heady experience. Not on Criterion, but recommended."

You might mean streaming, but Criterion released Bamboozled earlier this year.
posted by reductiondesign at 8:27 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]


Would also be a good time to catch some of Marlon Rigg's films.

Also recommend Tongues Untied. Kanopy carries it, if you're somewhere you can access that with a library card. It's also on Vimeo.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:29 PM on June 4


After watching these let's talk about them on fanfare!
posted by latkes at 9:53 PM on June 4


Spike Lee's Pass Over is available on Amazon Prime. The Guardian has an article about it.
posted by Paul Slade at 11:43 PM on June 4


As long as we're talking about films by black directors, one that's arguably topical in a time of social unrest, and available for free on YouTube: 1973's The Spook Who Sat By The Door, directed by Ivan Dixon, who's probably best known for playing radio operator "Kinch" on the TV series "Hogan's Heroes" and the gruff-but-good-hearted manager "Lonnie" in the film "Car Wash." Dixon went on to direct a lot of episodic TV in the 1970s and 80s, but this is, AFAICT, one of just two feature films he directed, the other being 1972's Trouble Man (famously soundtracked by Marvin Gaye).
(Previously on Metafilter)
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 1:18 AM on June 5 [4 favorites]


Sorry. This is currently unavailable in your region.

Seems none of these are available outside the USA :/
posted by Lanark at 1:48 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Criterion Channel is only Canada and the USA. Rarely, if ever, do they hold worldwide rights to a film.
posted by dobbs at 3:12 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


@lanark, seem to be working for me in the UK, whether my being behind a mobile connection makes any difference I know not.
posted by davemee at 3:14 AM on June 5


Lanark, I highly recommend nordVPN. As someone living in Europe with American clients, it had made it possible for me to access lots of media (primarily news sites) that would be otherwise off limits.

Great post, dobbs. Thank you so much!
posted by Bella Donna at 3:59 AM on June 5


Daughters of the Dust is an amazing film and it's criminal how little work Julie Dash has gotten in the thirty years since.
posted by octothorpe at 5:00 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]


Oh they are working for me now, instead of clicking 'sign up' you have to scroll down and click on the picture.
posted by Lanark at 5:31 AM on June 5


I was given a subscription as a gift only to discover their particular flavor of digital rights management (DRM) doesn't support Linux, which unfortunately includes my Chromebook. Sigh...
posted by jim in austin at 6:50 AM on June 5


I was given a subscription as a gift only to discover their particular flavor of digital rights management (DRM) doesn't support Linux, which unfortunately includes my Chromebook. Sigh...


Weird. Works on my Pixelbook. Have you tried their app?
posted by dobbs at 7:08 AM on June 5


This is great, thank you Dobbs.
posted by Mom at 7:41 AM on June 5


Yes, I came in to recommend Daughters of the Dust! I saw it maybe 6 months ago and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for weeks. Thanks for this; Watermelon Woman has also been high up on my “need to see this” list and this makes it very easy!
posted by jeweled accumulation at 7:45 AM on June 5


I was given a subscription as a gift only to discover their particular flavor of digital rights management (DRM) doesn't support Linux, which unfortunately includes my Chromebook. Sigh...

Yeah, same here but the Android app works on my Chromebook.
posted by octothorpe at 7:52 AM on June 5


Saw Daughter's of the Dust at Ebertfest few years ago with this Q&A by Dash afterward.
posted by octothorpe at 8:00 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Yeah, same here but the Android app works on my Chromebook.

It was a gift and has long since lapsed. But with my Austin Public Library card and their offering of Kanopy I have access to most of the collection...
posted by jim in austin at 8:41 AM on June 5


While we're talking Black cinema, Charles Burnett's great Killer of Sheep is now streaming free (temporarily) at the Milestone Films site.
posted by Mothlight at 8:43 AM on June 5 [3 favorites]


Nothing But A Man is streaming on Youtube (and if you'd like a better quality stream, I think it's available on amazon?). It's a remarkable film, starring Abbey Lincoln and Ivan Dixon, and is often cited as Malcolm X's favorite film. It was directed by Michael Roemer.
posted by nikoniko at 10:51 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Killer of Sheep is such a beautiful film.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 11:22 AM on June 5


While I think this is really great and will be watching some of the movies, there's a Criterion edition of Do the Right Thing, and I'm a little disappointed it wasn't included.
posted by box at 12:15 PM on June 5


While I think this is really great and will be watching some of the movies, there's a Criterion edition of Do the Right Thing, and I'm a little disappointed it wasn't included.

There's a hardcopy of DTRT on Criterion DVD and Blu-Ray. I don't think they own streaming rights, which are owned by Universal, the studio who produced it. I'm just guessing though -- but you can't even stream the film on CC by paying for it. It's not there.

As the company said in their email: "We’ve taken down the paywall on as many of these titles as we can." The ability will depend on their contracts with the rights holder.
posted by dobbs at 12:31 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]


Saw Daughter's of the Dust at Ebertfest few years ago with this Q&A by Dash afterward.

Oh, cool. Thanks for this. I stayed up a little too late night before last when this was posted to watch Daughters of the Dust. Was worth it. What an amazing film.

Thanks for the post, dobbs.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:42 AM on June 6


« Older Topher's Breakfast Cereal Character Guide   |   Celebrated at last: Henry Johnson, and the Golden... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments