I have made a number of assumptions when compiling this list: I assume you have access to a teevee, VCR, and/or DVD player. I assume you have access to a socially conscious, locally owned movie rental store or library that is happy to (and/or has the budget to) order movies and documentaries that people in the community request. I assume you have electricity and a home in which you can relax and take in a movie.
City of God
It is best if you can view this on DVD because along with the feature film, the DVD also features a brilliant, almost three-hour-long documentary about the favelas in Brazil. These mirror the ghettos, barrios, and reservations of the United States.
Starring Saul Williams as a gifted poet who is arrested on a drug charge at which Noelle Bush would have laughed her ass off. I loved this movie and watched it three times while I had it.
For anyone suffering confusion about the reality of rap and hiphop versus the manufactured mythology of rap and hiphop.
One of my all-time favorite movies. Fresh continues to be one of my role models in life.
Deals with some of the issues surrounding chronic incarceration that tend to pass from parent to child. A beautifully done film.
American History X
This film deals with the modern-day Klan, hate, and all that stems from it. Beware the scene where Edward Norton’s character “curbs” someone. I have never been able to watch that scene.
A Time to Kill
Samuel L. Jackson plays a father who demands justice in an all-white judicial system for an attack on his ten-year-old daughter.
One of Spike Lee’s best movies, Bamboozled critiques white supremacy in many of its manifestations. You may have to watch this one more than once.
This movie is the retelling of a life that is so often mistold, lied about, and misunderstood.
The historical reality of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a boxer who was targeted by police and jailed without actually committing a crime.
A film about a political leader who was brutally assassinated for attempting to lead the Congo out of Belgium’s imperialist clutches.
Mama Flora’s Family
A family’s story, spanning from the Jim Crow South to the end of the twentieth century.
This was originally aired as a television miniseries. It is a family’s history from Africa through slavery to Reconstruction. A good basic history lesson.
A southern town is terrorized by the lie of a white woman claiming to have been raped by a black man.
Incident at Oglala
The quintessential documentary about Leonard Peltier’s wrongful imprisonment.
Two Towns of Jasper
The movie about the town where James Byrd Jr. was lynched on June 7, 1998.
A documentary about drag kings and their identities.
Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism
This movie uses clips from Fox News to show how biased this channel, and essentially, news in general, really is.
Another movie about the media, this one is about Al Jazeera, a news network in the Middle East.
Waco: The Rules of Engagement
The government seems to have really botched this one. This is the story of the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas.
Racism in Australia is detailed in this story of the aboriginal integration program and some young girls who decide that they don’t want any part in it. I recommend this movie with the caveat that the two women whose stories are told here had a difficult time recognizing their actual lives when they sawRabbit-Proof Fence.
Introducing Dorothy Dandridge
Halle Berry should have won the Oscar for this movie instead of the insipid Monster’s Ball. Dorothy Dandridge was an actor and singer who performed professionally from 1937–1959.
911 In Plane Site
This movie is going to be tough to find. It’s definitely not one you’ll find at your local corporate video store. I highly recommend this painstakingly researched documentary to anyone who is not content with the mainstream narrative about the 2001 World Trade Center attacks.
This HBO show about police and gangs is available on DVD. Ask your local library to procure it if your local library is, in fact, still open, since Arbusto’s policies are gutting social resources and at least forty-one libraries across the nation were forced to close in 2005.
Dave Chappelle is a mortal genius. Hunt down every episode and watch them all three times each.