Skip to main content

African-American Documentary Films on DVD in the Leavey Library: Media Representation

Media Representation

Black  Hollywood
"... this feature documentary explores the role of black actors, black directors and the black audience in American movies. Remember the early 80s -- hip hop had just been born, break dancing filled clubs and streets and Eddie Murphy and the late great Richard Pryor were the only two black stars making it. In an action-packed showcase of clips and interviews, Diahnne Abbott, Rosalind Cash and Alfre Woodard talk about negative stereotyping. Jim Brown, Vonetta McGee and D'Urville Martin come up with alternative solutions to the one-way street that was 'blaxploitation' and discuss new ways of advancing an independent black cinema. There is a rare interview with Lorenzo Tucker, the Black Valentino, about his career with Oscar Micheaux. Joel Fluellen and Vincent Tubbs tell memorable stories of what life was like for the few blacks working in Hollywood in the 50s and 60s (including Dorothy Dandridge). There is a marvelous speech by Sidney Poitier on accepting the Black Hall of Fame 'oscar'. Griffiths' Birth of a Nation is panned. Grandmaster Flash and his 'Message' is the theme tune and the writer Oscar Williams holds the whole show together with his advice to the creative outsider." - Container

The Cinematic Jazz of Juie Dash
"African American filmmaker, producer, writer and director Julie Dash talks about her life and work and the difficulties she has had getting her films distributed and accepted. Interspersed with her comments are clips from three of her films, Daughters of the dust, Illusions, and Diary of an African nun, and she talks about the making of a fourth film, Four women. One of her principal aims, she says, is 'to redefine images of black women on the screen'."

Color Adjustment
"An analysis of the portrayal of African-Americans on American television from 1948-1988. Argues that earlier images were outright racist, and that later images have been overly biased towards prosperous blacks."

Ethnic Notions
"Takes viewers on a disturbing voyage through American history, tracing the evolution of the deeply rooted stereotypes that have fueled anti-Black prejudice"  -- Container.

Juke: Passages from the Films of Spencer Williams
"In the 1940s Spencer Williams, the African-American filmmaker and actor, produced melodramas about saints and sinners. Here film critic Thom Anderson assembles excerpts from Williams' films to document scenes of black life in the 1940s. Presented without narration."

The Souls of Black Girls
"...is a provocative news documentary that takes a critical look at media images--how they are instituted, established and controlled. The documentary also examines the relationship between the historical and existing media images of women of color and raises the question of whether they may be suffering from a self-image disorder as a result of trying to attain the standards of beauty that are celebrated in media images."

White Scripts and Black Supermen: Black Masculinities in Comic Books
"A documentary on representations of Black masculinity in comic books; a popular culture genre which existed before television and whose reach extends into other areas of cultural production such as movies and animated TV series. In a serious, lively and humorous manner, the film examines the degree to which some of the first Black superheroes generally adhered to and were burdened by stereotypes about Black men. However, we also witness how some images shifted--oftentimes clumsily--to reflect the changing times. Featured commentary by scholars and cultural critics, producers, writers and artists provides tools for critiquing all media as they introduce and analyze the leading Black comic book superheroes of the late 60s to late 70s including Black Panther, the Falcon, John Stewart (the Green Lantern), Luke Cage and Black Lightning."