Last week, we sent out a call to our community to help us build a watch list of films that support white and non-racialized folks in doing the important work required of us. Thank you for your responses!
These are films about Black, Indigenous and People of Colour that tell what it is to live in non-white skin in a racialized world. Some are hard to watch, even if they are also beautiful. Some will challenge notions of how we understand the world. Some will challenge the mainstream media narrative about people and events we thought we understood.
For those ready to examine privilege, you will feel uncomfortable when you watch these films. And you will be transformed. The hope is that in that transformation, you will step into the world with a heightened sense of your impact (versus your intent) and start to shift how you show up. You might see where you can listen more, where you might cede power and where you can take action.
So here is our list – rather the list our community has gifted to us. (Please let us know what films we are missing)
Please also spend some time with the NFB’s Anti-Racist Film collection.
Our community’s list of must-watch anti-racist films
Two poignant docs telling the people’s story about what happened when they rose up in peaceful protests in Ferguson, Missouri and were met with militarized riot police following Michael Brown’s assassination by police.
Two electric docs that address race through the lens of roller skater culture.
A heart-wrenching doc about the injustice of solitary confinement and the transformative power of art, as a New York artist and one of America’s most famous inmates forge an unlikely friendship.
A social-satire horror masterpiece about a black man who visits to his white girlfriend’s parents’ house in the suburbs, where he confronts the horrors of racism. As the Vox reviewer puts it, “Get Out ingeniously uses common horror tropes to reveal truths about how pernicious racism is in the world.”
An energetic satire about a black call centre worker who discovers the secret to success is in making his voice sound white.
They’re the kinds of people whose stories are rarely told: working-class, African-American, struggling to make ends meet in North Philadelphia. Lucky for us, however, QUEST brings us into their day-to-day to deliver something poignant, uplifting and full of plot twists.
When a young Arab man is arrested and brutally beaten by police, a riot erupts in the notoriously violent suburbs outside of Paris. This powerful drama from filmmaker Mathieu Kassovitz takes an unblinking look at 3 of his peers trying to come to grips with this horrifying incident.
Infused by the urgency of the police beating of Rodney King and ensuing riots, this feature film by writer/director Spike Lee tells tale of the slain civil rights leader Malcolm X. “Unsurprisingly, the film had a troubled route to the screen,” writes The Guardian reviewer, “reflecting both the enduring difficulty of telling black stories in Hollywood, and the inherent complexity of dramatizing the life of such a divisive figure.
Another Spike Lee joint, this classic drama takes place on the hottest day of the year, when tensions between white and black neighbors rise to a fever pitch, revealing not only the undercurrents of racism in our society but also our shared humanity.
A visual poem of honesty and heart, this non-traditional documentary offers a meditation on life in rural Alabama. Filmmaker RaMell Ross follows two young African-American men and their community over five years, his camera easily forgotten by its subjects, resulting in a poignantly human, if voyeuristic, account of birth, death, celebration, hard work, and the painting of hopes and dreams.
A feature film telling the harrowing tale of three little Aboriginal girls fleeing white captivity as part of the Australian government’s multi-generational, genocidal plan to “Europeanize” the population.