Picture of Black children walking by a Black Panther graffiti

Black Stories: Underrated Films-List

By Andrea Mau
Web Content Contributor

It’s no secret that Black issues have always been a taboo topic within mainstream media, and that has caused a lot of genius films to be swept under the rug by the general public.

However, with the Black Lives Matter movement more prevalent than ever, some of these hidden gems have reemerged into the public eye and are receiving the praise they deserve.

Alike in Pariah in a car staring at her reflection in a mirror
Alike in Pariah. Image by Dee Rees via Screenshot.

The following are some remarkable and thought-provoking films centering on Black people and civil rights issues. Support and share these films which are available on Amazon Video.

Pariah, directed by Dee Rees, follows the coming of age of Alike, a lesbian youth from Brooklyn. Lesbians in mainstream media tend to be overly feminized and light-skinned, but Alike and many other supporting characters are unapologetically butch and Black.

The story revolves around the unique challenges facing queer and minority teens, a population that’s underrepresented in film.

However, what Pariah also sheds light on is the good life experiences and talents these youths can provide, with Alike’s poetry and family playing a major role in the tone and emotional investment of the story.

A photo of Toni Morrison is overlapped with other scraps of photos of her face imposed onto it
Toni Morrison in Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am. Image by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders via Screenshot.

Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, directed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, is a look at the inspirational author Toni Morrison’s life.

The film includes her experiences and opinions of the writing world, where racist expectations flourish for her to write more for white audiences. Morrison focuses on combating this with more Black stories, for Black people.

Morrison speaks about the power of words in the film, and how this can be used to reinforce the confidence of disadvantaged and self-loathing Black youth.

Her story shows the power of her writing and how it is breaking down barriers in literature and bringing Black issues to the forefront of critical thought.

Black Panther Party members in Black Panthers: Vanguard of The Revolution. Image by Stanley Nelson via screenshot.

Black Panthers: Vanguard of The Revolution, directed by Stanley Nelson, is probably the most relevant film on this list.

This film demonstrates the civil rights movement still being fought today. Documenting the formation and history of the Black Panther Party, the stories of their civil rights movement is told by the primary sources of Black activists such as Kathleen Cleaver, Jamal Joseph and Erica Huggins.

While Black Panthers is relevant, it also highlights the complexities of the issues it deals with. Within this film is a true wake up call, as it exposes the corruption and oppression techniques employed by the government, and most notably the FBI.

This is critical to consider with the current civil movement occurring today because at the peak of the Black Lives Matter movement, similar ploys could be used to defame and mutilate the perception of not just the initiative, but of Black people in general in the mainstream.

Awareness is needed so Black voices are no longer silenced.

It’s safe to say anyone can get something out of watching one of these films. Each provides vital representations and insight into the racial tensions experienced by Black people.

They all feature prominent Black leaders and role models who are changing the social and political landscape of the United States through their gripping narratives and life experiences.

Featured image by Stanley Nelson via Screenshot.

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