Whose Streets?

As protests continue to march across the United States (and even the entire globe) in support of Black Lives Matter, movie distributors are amplifying the voices of black filmmakers in an effort to not just show solidarity, but educate the general public on why these protests are so necessary.

Following The Criterion Channel making a selection of movies from black filmmakers available for free, Magnolia Pictures is teaming with The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and O Cinema to release three extremely relevant documentaries for free, each focusing on Civil Rights leaders, black writers, and the issues of social injustice. Get the details below.

UPDATE: Shudder has also made the documentary Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror available for free through their website and streaming app.

Here are the trailers and synopses for the three documentaries Magnolia Pictures is making available for free:

I Am Not Your Negro

In his new film, director Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished – a radical narration about race in America, using the writer’s original words. He draws upon James Baldwin’s notes on the lives and assassinations of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. to explore and bring a fresh and radical perspective to the current racial narrative in America.

Whose Streets?

Told by the activists and leaders who live and breathe this movement for justice, Whose Streets? is an unflinching look at the Ferguson uprising. When unarmed teenager Michael Brown is killed by police and left lying in the street for hours, it marks a breaking point for the residents of St. Louis, Missouri. Grief, long-standing racial tensions and renewed anger bring residents together to hold vigil and protest this latest tragedy.

Empowered parents, artists, and teachers from around the country come together as freedom fighters. As the national guard descends on Ferguson with military grade weaponry, these young community members become the torchbearers of a new resistance.

Filmmakers Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis know this story because they are the story. Whose Streets? is a powerful battle cry from a generation fighting, not for their civil rights, but for the right to live.

Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am

Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am offers an artful and intimate meditation on the life and works of the acclaimed novelist. From her childhood in the steel town of Lorain, Ohio to ‘70s-era book tours with Muhammad Ali, from the front lines with Angela Davis to her own riverfront writing room, Toni Morrison leads an assembly of her peers, critics and colleagues on an exploration of race, America, history and the human condition as seen through the prism of her own literature.

Inspired to write because no one took a “little black girl” seriously, Morrison reflects on her lifelong deconstruction of the master narrative. Woven together with a rich collection of art, history, literature and personality, the film includes discussions about her many critically acclaimed works, including novels “The Bluest Eye,” “Sula” and “Song of Solomon,” her role as an editor of iconic African-American literature and her time teaching at Princeton University.

Each of the above films will be made available for screenings through community partners in these eight cities:

  • Akron, Ohio
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Detroit, Michigan
  • Macon, Georgia
  • Miami, Florida
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • San Jose, California
  • St. Paul, Minnesota

Don’t worry if you don’t live in any of those cities, because each title will also be made available to rent for free online each Sunday for a 24-hour period. Magnolia, Knight Foundation, and O Cinema will provide more information to their mailing lists soon on how to access these movies online. There will also soon be a landing page to help people watch, but in order to see them, viewers will have to register in advance to receive a secure link and password to watch each movie.

I Am Not Your Negro will be the first film available on June 7, Whose Streets? will follow on June 14, and Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am will wrap things up on June 21. On the following Monday after each film’s debut, there will be a community based virtual conversation that will help people learn about ways to support social justice reforms and anti-racism initiatives in their communities.

Alberto Ibarguen, president of Knight Foundation, said in a statement (via Variety):

“Informed, equitable, inclusive and participatory communities are as essential to a strong democracy as an informed citizenry. The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis is a terrible affront to that ideal – and this weekend is a reminder of how tough it will be to rise to the moment. But our democracy depends on our willingness to try.”

O Cinema co-founders Kareem Tabsch and Vivian Marthell added:

“We believe films have the power to educate, entertain and inspire — they can change communities and can change lives. As artists and arts organizations we have the responsibility to speak out against injustice and oppression. These three remarkable films speak directly to issues that have plagued our country for far too long. We hope they can spark real dialogue and a plan of action to address inequities.”

Also, don’t forget that Magnolia Pictures has the documentary John Lewis: Good Trouble coming in July:

Now is the time to listen to black creators and voices who are calling attention to the injustices brought upon black people every single day. These movies provide an insight into the prejudice that has oppressed them for far too long, and they also contain thoughtful and provocative perspectives from some of the most revered figures in black culture. Please, take the time to educate yourself and hear what you can do to help support this important movement.

UPDATE: Shudder is making their documentary Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror available for free too.

Delving into a century of genre films that by turns utilized, caricatured, exploited, sidelined, and finally embraced them, Horror Noire traces the untold history of Black Americans in Hollywood through their connection to the horror genre. Adapting Robin Means Coleman’s seminal book, HORROR NOIRE will present the living and the dead, using new and archival interviews from scholars and creators; the voices who survived the genre’s past trends, to those shaping its future.

The film features talking heads such as Jordan Peele, Tananarive Due, Tony Todd, Ken Foree, and many more with insights into the depiction of black people in horror and the black films and filmmakers that black culture to the genre. Watch the movie right here.

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