Movies for Black History Month

Posted on February 18, 2014 at 8:00 am

Every family should observe Black History Month and movies like these are a good way to begin discussions and further study.

1. “Glory” The true story of the US Civil War’s first all-black volunteer company, fighting prejudices of their own Union army and battling the Confederates, with brilliant performances by Denzel Washington (who won an Oscar), Morgan Freeman, and Matthew Broderick as the white officer who truly believed all men were equal.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWGt9Yr2bCw

2. “Something the Lord Made” The obstacles to education and professional advancement kept Vivien Thomas (Mos Def) from medical school, but he was a pioneer in heart surgery.vivien thomas

3. “Roots” Writer Alex Haley told the story of his own family going back to the capture of one of his ancestors from Africa to be sold into slavery in this historic miniseries.

4. “Amistad” A slave rebellion led to an historic Supreme Court case that addressed fundamental notions of personhood and inalienable rights.

5. “With All Deliberate Speed” This documentary about the Brown v. Board of Education case that transformed American schools and culture has interviews with lawyer Thurgood Marshall (who later became the first black Supreme Court justice) and others involved in the case.

6. “Malcolm X” Denzel Washington is mesmerizing in this story of the incendiary leader and his journey from complacency to activism to understanding.

7. “Eyes on the Prize” This PBS documentary covers the Civil Rights movement from the murder of Emmett Till to the march in Selma.  There is also an excellent sequel.

8. “The Rosa Parks Story” Angela Bassett stars as the Civil Rights activist whose refusal to give up her seat on the bus electrified the nation.

9. “The Loving Story” The name of this history-making couple was really Loving.  Their inter-racial marriage led the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the laws against miscegenation in 1967.

10. “A Great Day in Harlem” This documentary tells the story of photographer Art Kane’s 1958 iconic photograph of all of the great jazz musicians of the era.

great-day in harlem

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Black Reel Awards 2014: 12 Years a Slave Breaks the Record

Posted on February 17, 2014 at 1:37 pm

12-years-a-slave-2I always look forward to the announcement of the Black Reel Awards, which each year pay tribute to the greatest achievements of African-Americans and people of the African Diaspora in feature and independent films and television.  This year, I was especially interested in the results because 2013 was unquestionably the best year in history for African-Americans in film — behind the screen, on the screen, and in the range of stories presented, from the real-life tragedies of “12 Years a Slave,” “Fruitvale Station,” and “Captain Phillips” to the genre films that may not have had lofty artistic aspirations but still gave African-American performers and film-makers a wider range of opportunities to tell their stories, even thrillers and romantic comedies.

12 Years a Slave,” a stunning achievement with a good chance of winning this year’s Best Picture Oscar, was the big winner at the Black Reel Awards, breaking the all-time record set by “Precious” with a sweep of eight awards: Outstanding Motion Picture, outstanding actor for Chiwetel Ejiofor, Outstanding Supporting Actress for dazzling newcomer Lupita Nyong’o, who also won Outstanding Female Breakthrough Performance, Outstanding Director for Steve McQueen, Outstanding Screenplay for John Ridley, Outstanding Ensemble, and Outstanding Score for Hans Zimmer.  “The fact that in one of the strongest years for Black film in recent memory, one film was able to be so dominant is a testament to the vision of Steve McQueen, the screenplay by John Ridley and the fantastic performances of the trio of actors led by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o,” said Black Reel Awards creator and Executive Director, Tim Gordon. “This will be a year no one forgets.”

Other notable awards went to “Captain Phillips'” Barkhad Abdi (Outstanding Supporting Actor and Outstanding Male Breakthrough Performance) and Danai Gurira (Outstanding Actress) for her role in “Mother of George,” the story of Nigerian immigrants living in Brooklyn and struggling with infertility.  Documentary honors went to “20 Feet from Stardom,” about the back-up singers who perform on hit records and are usually overlooked.  A documentary about gay rights in the African-American community, “The New Black,” won the award for Outstanding Independent Documentary.  Outstanding Independent Feature went to “Blue Caprice,” the story of the DC snipers.

The full list of awardees:

Outstanding Motion Picture
12 Years a Slave

Outstanding Actor
Chiwetel Ejiofor | 12 Years a Slave

Outstanding Actress
Danai Gurira | Mother of George

Outstanding Supporting Actor
Barkhad Abdi | Captain Phillips

Outstanding Supporting Actress
Lupita Nyong’o | 12 Years a Slave

Outstanding Director
Steve McQueen | 12 Years a Slave

Outstanding Screenplay
John Ridley | 12 Years a Slave

Outstanding Documentary
20 Feet From Stardom | Morgan Neville

Outstanding Ensemble
12 Years a Slave | Francine Maiser

Outstanding Foreign Film
War Witch | Canada

Outstanding Score
Hans Zimmer | 12 Years a Slave

Outstanding Original Song
“Desperation” by Judith Hill | 20 Feet From Stardom

Outstanding Breakthrough Performance, Male
Barkhad Abdi | Captain Phillips

Outstanding Breakthrough Performance, Female
Lupita Nyong’o | 12 Years a Slave

Outstanding Voice Performance
Samuel L. Jackson | Turbo

Outstanding Independent Feature
Blue Caprice | Alexandre Moors

Outstanding Independent Documentary
The New Black | Yoruba Richen

Outstanding Independent Short
Black Girl in Paris | Kiandra Parks

Outstanding Television Documentary
Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley | Whoopi Goldberg

Outstanding TV Movie or Mini-Series
Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth

Outstanding TV Movie Actor
Chiwetel Ejiofor | Dancing on Edge

Outstanding TV Movie Actress
Anika Noni Rose | The Watsons Go to Birmingham

Outstanding Supporting Actor, TV Movie
Omari Hardwick | Being Mary Jane

Outstanding Supporting Actress, TV Movie
Octavia Spencer | Call Me Crazy: A Five Film

Outstanding Director, TV Movie
Spike Lee | Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth

Outstanding Screenplay, TV Movie
Mara Brock Akil | Being Mary Jane

 

 

 

 

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Tonight on PBS: Alice Walker

Posted on February 7, 2014 at 8:00 am

Tonight on most PBS stations is the premiere of a new episode of the American Masters series, “Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth,” in honor of the acclaimed author’s 70th birthday and Black History Month. Walker is the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction with her novel The Color Purple, which also won the National Book Award. Her other books include The Third Life of Grange Copeland, Meridian, The Temple of My Familiar, and Possessing the Secret of Joy. In her public life, Walker has worked to address problems of injustice, inequality, and poverty as an activist, teacher, and public intellectual.

Here, in an outtake from the film, Alice Walker talks about taking a segregated bus to go to Spelman College.

She was a major force in bringing public attention to the work of Zora Neale Hurston.

A sneak preview of the program is available online.

 

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