Black History Month – Our lists

Watch this space for some discussion of specific films, but to start off we decided to think of the films which we would like students to watch in terms of Black history. Each list is given in chronological order:

Rona’s List 

My list follows (broadly) a history of black cinema in the US – starting with DW Griffiths Birth and Oscar Micheaux’s response.  Even within a restricted list, it demonstrates the diversity of approach to representation of African-Americans, including white filmmakers who address race within their work. Of our generation, Spike Lee (despite some uneven efforts) is one of the most important filmmakers, regardless of race, because of the way he has incorporated his racial identity into his work, and yet produced films that are not bound by it for audiences. 

Birth of a Nation (1915)

Within our Gates (1920)

In the Heat of the Night (1967)

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)

Shaft (1971)

The Color Purple (1985)

She’s Gotta Have It (1986)

Do the Right Thing (1989)

Daughters of the Dust (1991)

Boyz n the Hood (1991)

Sister Act (1992)

Malcolm X (1992)

Antwone Fisher (2002)


Nick’s List

I tried to think of the ten ‘black’ films that I would like to see this month (limiting myself to one Spike Lee).

Hallelujah (US 1929)

Cabin in the Sky (US 1943)

Borom Sarret (Senegal 1966)

The Harder They Come (Jamaica 1972)

Mapantsula (South Africa 1988)

Mo’ Better Blues (US 1990)

Boyz n the Hood (US 1991)

Deep Cover (US 1992)

Menace II Society (US 1993)

Moolaadé (Senegal, France, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Morocco, Tunisia 2004)


Roy’s List

These are all films made by Black filmmakers that I have used in an education context and that I would happily sit down and watch (and teach) again. 

Ceddo (Senegal 1977)

Burning An Illusion (UK 1981)

Finye (The Wind) (Mali 1981)

Rue cases nègres (France/Martinique 1983)

Sarraounia (Burkina Faso/Mauritania/France 1986)

Handsworth Songs (UK 1986)

Eve’s Bayou (US 1997)

Babymother (UK 1998)

Bamboozled (US 2000)

Heremakono (Waiting for Happiness) (France/Mauritania 2002)

We are planning to write up several films and some of those listed here are already on the blog as indicated. Any comments on the lists or requests for specific films to be included in our coverage?


  1. venicelion

    The free downloads are a function of the different copyright laws in the US compared with Europe. The concept of Public Domain in the US means that films move out of copyright after a much shorter time than in Europe. European law (eg national and EU) means that rights can be renewed and don’t lapse until 70 years or so after the rightsholder has died. (Can’t remember the exact figure.) So, the chance of finding any of the UK/French or African films on free ‘legal’ download is slim. Some of them are available on paid-for download. I’ll investigate this.


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