side profile of man with glasses

February 22, 2021

Who Was Mr. SOUL?

Craig Phillips in Beyond the Films

If you're of a certain generation and familiar at all with the late '60s and early '70s groundbreaking public TV show SOUL!, you may recognize the name Ellis Haizlip, but…...

Ellis Haizlip on the set of SOUL! withEllis Haizlip on the set of SOUL! with the band Mandrill the band Mandrill; Photo by Alex Harsley
Beyond the Films

February 17, 2021

Listen Up: How Music Was the Heart of SOUL!

Independent Lens in Beyond the Films

by Nick Dedina Today we take it for granted that Black culture is mainstream American culture. But, before the age of hip-hop, cable TV, the internet, streaming, and mobile phones,…...

On the set of SOUL! with Ellis Haizlip interviewing Melvin Van Peebles [Credit: Chester Higgins]
Beyond the Films

February 09, 2021

How SOUL! Helped Pave the Way for Black Cultural Programming

Independent Lens in Beyond the Films

By Ade D. Adeniji Mr. SOUL! explores America’s first Black variety television show SOUL!, which ran from 1968 to 1973, and was steered by pioneering Black producer and host Ellis…...

Filmmaker Jacqueline Olive

February 20, 2020

Filmmaker Explores First Steps Toward Justice and Reconciliation

Craig Phillips in Behind the Films

Independent filmmaker Jacqueline Olive, who has worked in non-fiction filmmaking for years and co-directed and co-produced the award-winning hour-long documentary, Black to Our Roots (PBS WORLD), makes her feature documentary…...

Singer Billie Holiday
Beyond the Films

February 19, 2020

Billie Holiday’s Searing “Strange Fruit” Still Has the Power to Startle

Independent Lens in Beyond the Films

By Nick Dedina There are often false narratives we tell ourselves so that we can simplify, and beautify, the past and erase aspects of the present that we are uncomfortable…...

NASA astronaut Mae Jemison waits as her suit technician, Sharon McDougle, performs a unpressurized and pressurized leak check on her spacesuit, 1992.
Beyond the Films

July 02, 2019

Space Scientists of Color, and the “Afronauts”

Independent Lens in Beyond the Films

By Satu Runa 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…...

Black memorabilia figurines

January 30, 2019

The Challenge of Making a Film About Racist Relics

Craig Phillips in Interviews

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…...

An HBCU student tears up at his graduation, from Tell Them We Are Rising
Beyond the Films

February 14, 2018

HBCU Grads Share Their Stories of Campus Life

Craig Phillips in Beyond the Films

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…...

James Baldwin on the Dick Cavett Show

January 10, 2018

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

Craig Phillips in Interviews

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…...

From The Negro Soldier, 1944. USA. Directed by Stuart Heisler
Film History

May 26, 2017

Memorial Day: Docs That Capture the Human Experience of War

Sean Axmaker in Lists

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…...

Silhouetted image of William M. Trotter speaking in protest about Birth of a Nation, from Birth of a Movement

February 02, 2017

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

Craig Phillips in Interviews

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.…...

Still from Birth of a Movement, of DW Griffith on set directing a film with megaphone
Film History

February 01, 2017

The Offspring of Birth of a Nation

Sean Axmaker in Film History

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…...