Amazing films to celebrate black culture
The outsized impact of black culture onto our modern civilization would be impossible to quantify. Much of our global music, film, art, political philosophy, dance, fashion, style, language and even our mannerisms are in many ways adaptations of cultural movements that began in black communities across the globe. Yet – historically, the black originators that created them rarely see the fruits of their innovation translate to meaningful success for themselves or their peers.
In the past few years, however, important films have been released in an effort to educate and reestablish the impact of these cultural figures and thanks to streaming services, these can now be disseminated for mass consumption. Streaming libraries have dozens of note-worthy cinematic biopics and documentaries to choose from, we encourage you to watch them all – but to start you off, we have shortlisted some of our favourites:
Jamie Foxx delivers an Oscar-Golden Globe-BAFTA-SAG and Critics Choice -winning role in this beautiful film about the long career of R&B legend Ray Charles. Foxx fully immerses himself in the part, singing and playing piano on top of giving us a historic acting performance, a total knockout about one of the most important figures in modern music.
Denzel Washington plays iconic civil rights activist, Malcom X, in Spike Lee’s 1992 film about the ‘Black Liberation Movement’. X created seismic change in the conversation surrounding civil rights and Lee delivers with an awe-inspiring 3.22 hours; this is a must-watch.
Dolemite Is My Name
A lighthearted biopic about 1970’s comedian Rudy Ray Moore’s character “Dolemite”. Eddie Murphy portrays the funny man which he was inspired by for his own comedic career. Moore was one of the giants of Blaxploitation cinema and a ground-breaker in his own right. The film will make you laugh and cry – a great watch and Golden-Globe Nominee to boot.
Barry follows Barack Obama’s story on his journey from Columbia University to the difficult foundations that would eventually make him the 44th President of the United States of America. The film will make you realise the legendary president is human and had his own trials and tribulations, just like the rest of us
Straight Outta Compton
Straight Outta Compton unveils the birth of modern rap and hip-hop culture through the birth of super-group NWA. The biopic indulges in the grit and strife of the LA neighborhood of Compton to bring about the joining of now globally-known names Dr Dre, Ice-Cube, DOC, Eazy-E, MC Ren, DJ Yella and Arabian Prince. Music will never be the same again.
This biopic about the troop of female mathematicians of colour that were essential to the success of the US Space Programme is based on the book by non-fiction writer Margot Lee Shetterly. A story of patriotism and talent under strife.
Will Smith bursts onto the silver screen to tell the story of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, his historic wins, his conversation to Islam alongside Malcom X and his political activism. The film won Smith and director Michael Mann a nomination.
Director Ava DuVernay has given us many great films including the ground-breaking 13, When They See Us, Middle of Nowhere and A Wrinkle In Time but her work on the biopic drama Selma has been hailed as a historic masterpiece. Following the civil rights marches led by Martin Luther King Jr. from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965 and their impact and tragic end.
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