Education

Since May 30th, our global society has been transforming itself into a chaotic wake up call with the issue of police brutality and the continuous evidence of minorities not having the same equity of life as those who fall under white privilege.

I’ve had my share of unlearning the white man’s knowledge of American History, and growth over the years when it comes to American History, and I continue to put aside my own trauma and issues to sit and radically listen to my peers to hear their stories and allow them to provide me facts and evidence of their reality, while I proved my own radical listening, empathy, and understanding.

Right now they are tired. They are tired of talking without anyone listening. The are tired of the questions from those who simply have a hard time comprehending. They are tired of the “All Lives Matter” debacle that goes against the reality of blacks being 3x more likely to be shot and killed by police. They are simply tired.

I have a responsibility of a film maker and a film lover, to take the time to put together my top ten favorite strong black lead films and/or series that provide legitimate educational value for those who want a better understanding of the systematic oppression our fellow Americans have suffered through for the past 400 years, as well as, some of the greatest icons in black history that may or may have not been in your history textbooks growing up.

All I ask from this list is be aware of the fictional aspects of the films and take the time to dig into a deeper research of the events within the topics and figures provided with each film. I am asking, for those willing to listen and learn to do with empathy, while watching these stories, and don’t forget the Kleenex, because you will need them.

  1. Roots (Hulu): An adaptation of the 1977 mini-series, Roots chronicles the history of an African man sold to slavery in America, and his descendants. 

  2. Harriet (Rent/Vudu): The extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman‘s escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes, whose courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history.

  3. MalcolmX (Netflix): Biographical epic of the controversial and influential Black Nationalist leader, from his early life and career as a small-time gangster, to his ministry as a member of the Nation of Islam.

  4. 13th (Netflix): An in-depth look at the prison system in the United States and how it reveals the nation’s history of racial inequality.

  5. I Am Not Your Negro (Amazon Prime): Writer James Baldwin tells the story of race in modern America with his unfinished novel, Remember This House.

  6. Selma (Amazon Prime): A chronicle of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965.

  7. The Hate U Give (Rent/Vudu): Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressure from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what’s right.

  8. DETROIT (Hulu): A gripping story of one of the most terrifying moments during the civil unrest that rocked Detroit in the summer of ’67.

  9. Just Mercy (Rent/Vudu): World-renowned civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson works to free a wrongly condemned death row prisoner.

  10. When They See Us (Netflix): Five teens from Harlem become trapped in a nightmare when they’re falsely accused of a brutal attack in Central Park. Based on the true story.

    Honorary mentions: Marshall (Netflix), LA92 (Netflix), Teach Us All (Netflix), Ali (Amazon Prime), 12 Years a Slave (Rent)…

One of my favorite things I’ve learned over the years in multi-media is color palettes. It may seem, so simple, but based on the message or vibe you want to translate, it can make your film or any form of media go so much further than the basis of the story.

For example, if you want a dark and moody story-line delivered, you may want to focus on the blues and grays:

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or if you want a comedy or light-hearted driven story-line, you might go for a more vibrant and contrasting palette or even a warmer color palette like oranges, reds, and yellows:

A lot of film and television references are played into this blog. Films like Her, The Fifth Element, Revenant, Vikings, The Lion King, Alice in Wonderland, Mute, The Shape of Water, Blade Runner, Game of Thrones, and Edward Scissorhands are just a few examples that come to mind. So, for some more film studying for those filmmakers, next time you find a preferable film to study, see if you can pin point a color palette and evaluate if it matches the message or story-line being portrayed in the film or television show.

Also a handy tool I have discovered over the years to create and practice your color palette skills is the site, https://coolors.co. Also, it’s FREE to register and create collections for your future films.