For those of us who are white or non-black POC, it is impossible for us to fully understand the depth and scope of the black experience. However, black filmmakers have produced a wide array of content exploring the complexities of the black experience that can provide greater context to non-black audiences. Here is a non-comprehensive list of four such films that can help to develop a better understanding of the black experience.
- Fruitvale Station
Directed by Ryan Coogler, Fruitvale Station follows the final days of Oscar Grant III, a 22-year old who was shot and killed by Oakland police in 2009. Critically acclaimed, Fruitvale Station opened to massive success at the Cannes Film Festival for its poignant direction from Coogler and powerhouse performances from Michael B. Jordan and Octavia Spencer. Fruitvale Station is available for streaming on Amazon.
- When They See Us
A four-part miniseries from director Ava DuVernay, When They See Us follows the case of the Central Park Five, five young boys wrongly prosecuted, charged, and made to serve time for a savage attack on a jogger in the Central Park area. Though their convictions were overturned in 2002, the Central Park Five suffered irreparable damages from an extremely sensationalized case. When They See Us is available for streaming on Netflix.
A comprehensive review of the 13th amendment and its impact on the American prison industrial complex in the United States and slavery, 13th is a critically acclaimed documentary directed by Ava DuVernay. Immensely informative and thorough, 13th is a must-see to develop a greater understanding of the issue of mass incarceration and the criminalization of the black community. 13th is available for streaming on Netflix.
- Queen & Slim
A movie as polarizing in premise as it is in content, 2019’s Queen & Slim tells the story of a young couple on the run after an interaction with the police turns deadly. Directed by Melina Matsoukas, Queen & Slim is a daunting piece of cinema that explores the complexities of personal perception and the challenges of falling in love. Queen & Slim is available for streaming on Amazon Prime.