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TAG: african american

Space Scientists of Color, and the “Afronauts”

What drives humankind to explore? There are several factors that can embolden a person to “seek out new civilizations” or “boldly go where no one has gone before,” to borrow from Star Trek’s famous opener. History has taught us that famine, war, strife, and persecution can drive people away from their home country, yet positive things like opportunity or hope for a better life can draw us towards the unknown. READ MORE

The Challenge of Making a Film About Racist Relics

Filmmaker and teacher Chico Colvard’s first feature doc, Family Affair, premiered at Sundance and was the first film acquired by Oprah Winfrey for her cable channel, OWN. The searingly personal documentary explored his family’s own troubled history that ultimately had a message of forgiveness and resilience. While his new film Black Memorabilia is less personal, it maintains … READ MORE

HBCU Grads Share Their Stories of Campus Life

Graduates of Historic Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are proud alums, and in connection with the Independent Lens film Tell Them We Are Rising, which tells the 170 years—and rising—history of HBCUs, we found a few who were happy to tell their own stories of life on an HBCU campus. These are just a sampling of … READ MORE

How “I Am Not Your Negro” Filmmaker Reopened James Baldwin’s “House”

The worldly Haitian-born filmmaker Raoul Peck and his family fled the Duvalier dictatorship in 1961 and found asylum in the Democratic Republic of Congo, before Peck finished his schooling in the United States, France, and Germany. Currently living in both France and the U.S., Peck has been given numerous Human Rights Watch awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in … READ MORE

Memorial Day: Docs That Capture the Human Experience of War

There is no shortage of documentaries on war. The subject fascinates us as history, as sociology, and as drama. Some documentaries chronicle history in great detail, some grapple with the issues and forces behind the conflicts, and some flat-out propagandize. But very few of those documentaries actually engage with the human experience. So for Memorial … READ MORE

Filmmakers Tell Story of William Trotter’s Fight Against Racist Silent Blockbuster

Birth of a Movement, based on Dick Lehr’s book, captures the backdrop to a prescient clash between human rights, freedom of speech, and a changing media landscape — that happened in 1915. It is essentially the story of legendary film director D.W. Griffith, whose technically groundbreaking but inarguably racist silent film blockbuster Birth of a Nation was … READ MORE

The Offspring of Birth of a Nation

D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation is inarguably one of the landmarks of American cinema. The distillation of the storytelling techniques, editing ideas, framing and visual composition, and nuanced approaches to performance that Griffith spent years exploring and experimenting with in short subjects and mid-length films, it was the longest and most ambitious American … READ MORE

Stanley Nelson Reveals the Real Black Panther Party

Filmmaker Stanley Nelson, who won an Emmy for the PBS documentary The Murder of Emmett Till, three Emmys for Freedom Riders, and made an acclaimed film about Marcus Garvey, has for years aimed his probing but fair-minded lens on civil rights history. Along the way he realized he hadn’t really seen a film that covered the full and fascinating … READ MORE

Breaking Barriers on Stage: African American Ballet Dancers Who Made History

As we learn in A Ballerina’s Tale, Nelson George’s new documentary about Misty Copeland [February 8; check local listings], Eurocentric standards of body shape, muscle tone, and skin color excluded dancers who didn’t fit the wan mold demanded of prima ballerinas. All that changed in the summer of 2015, when Misty Copeland, a rising star already transcending the rarified … READ MORE

Black Family History Through a Lens

A wonderful companion piece to Thomas Allen Harris‘s new film Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People is his Digital Diaspora Family Reunion project — a roadshow connecting communities and history through family photographic archives. Read more about the project in this Documentary Magazine piece, which accurately sums it up as using “the power of interactive … READ MORE

Thomas Allen Harris Goes Through a Lens Darkly

Filmmaker Harris — whose films and installations have been featured at prestigious film festivals as well as museums and galleries including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Biennial, the Corcoran Gallery, Reina Sophia, and the London Institute of the Arts — talked to us about his own relationship with photography and what he hopes viewers will gain from seeing Through a Lens Darkly.

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