February is Black History Month. During this time, the media puts a historical lens on the contributions of African Americans to the country and how these contributions have influenced the way we live today. Trailblazers such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Harriet Tubman often get their stories told in the entertainment industry. There are many films centered around the struggle of the Black community in this country. We see films around Black History Month that often make the pain of the Black community as a means to make great entertainment. While all of these stories and perspectives are essential to understanding Black history, it is also important to acknowledge the Black artists that are shedding light on their humanity first.
In honor of Black History Month, here is a small list of films that have been released within the past few years that celebrate Black culture. From sci-fi hits to heartwarming chick-flicks, this list is sure to give options for the whole family to enjoy while celebrating and amplifying Black voices.
“Black Panther” (2018)
This groundbreaking Marvel film is obviously a given pick. The film’s creation is full of Black excellence, directed by Ryan Coogler and starring Hollywood favorites Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan. Not only does this film give voice to the beloved Marvel character Black Panther, but it also highlights the homeland which the African American people come from. Though Wakanda is a fictional country, the inspiration for the customs, practices, and costuming holds true in tribute of the African traditions that were lost over time. Costume designer Ruth E Carter is the first Black woman to win the Oscar for Best Costume Design. This film is currently streaming on Disney+.
Directed by Prentice Penny, this Netflix original highlights the story of a young man Elijah (Mamoudou Athie) who wants to become a sommelier in spite of his father’s (Courtney B Vance) plans for him to work in the family business. This film presents themes such as grief, chasing your dreams and fear in a light-hearted, warm way. This film is currently streaming on Netflix.
“Black is King” (2020)
Let’s admit, we were all obsessed with the Beychella performances when they appeared on Netflix! Well, Beyonce strikes again in the visual album that serves as the companion for “The Lion King: The Gift” album from 2019. Using the same storyline as the timeless tale “The Lion King,” the film serves as a celebration of the African roots as well as highlights the journey of the African diaspora. Beyonce served as the director, writer and executive producer of this work. “Black is King” is available for viewing on Disney+.
“The Photograph” (2020)
A movie that parallels two love stories? Heck yes! Directed by Stella Meghie, this is the story of the daughter of a late photographer (Issa Rae) who soon falls in love with the journalist (LaKeith Stanfield) who is doing a story on her mother’s life. This movie gives us a taste of both modern and vintage aesthetics with consistent flashbacks and eclectic music selections. There is humor, light and good vibes throughout the entirety of the film. “The Photograph” is available for streaming on HBO Max.
Malcolm & Marie (2021)
In the mood for an emotional rollercoaster? That’s exactly what you get in this new Netflix Original starring John David Washington and Zendaya. This film depicts a lengthy argument between a filmmaker at the peak of his career (Washington) and his girlfriend (Zendaya), whose real-life events served as the muse for his film. The couple serve as the only characters in the movie, and the narrative only takes place during one evening. The film is also shot in black-and-white. The aesthetics of the cinematography allow the audience to solely focus on the issues at hand. After an exhausting back-and-forth between the two characters, the fate of their relationship is then left for the audience to decide. This film is streaming on Netflix.
Take the time to dive into these stories in honor of the importance of the Black community in the United States of America.