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


Alvin Ailey: Memories and Visions
"Presents selections from the major works of choreographer Alvin Ailey as performed by his City Center Dance Theater to background music ranging from modern blues to classical music to traditional spirituals. The choreography is a reflection of the many varied influences in Alvin Ailey's life, influences that are both seen and felt through the vivid performance of the company, which includes the world-renowned artist Judith Jamison."

August Wilson
"A conversation between television journalist, Bill Moyers, and playwright, August Wilson, in which they discuss Wilson's plays and the Black experience in America."

August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand
"Explore the life and legacy of August Wilson, the playwright some call America's Shakespeare, who chronicled the twentieth-century black experience. Features James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad, Laurence Fishburne, Viola Davis, new dramatic readings, and rare footage."

Black Theatre: The Making of a Movement
"The meaning of black theatre is discussed by accomplished playwrights, directors, producers and performers. Includes interviews with James Earl Jones, Amiri Baraka, Ed Bullins and others."

Dancing in the Light: Six Dances by African - American Choreographers
"The American Dance Festival presents Dancing in the Light presents a one-hour modern dance television program showcasing 6 historic dance compositions by African American choreographers. All of the dances were originally recorded for the Emmy Award-winning series Free to Dance,"

"Over the past thirteen years, Kevin Jerome Everson has crafted an exquisite--and prodigious--body of work on the working-class culture of African-Americans and people of African descent. Combining documentary and fiction, Everson's nearly 70 shorts and four features center on everyday tasks and gestures to unearth and illuminate the ordinary grace of daily life.."

Flex is Kings
"Follows the struggles of several young male dancers who practice flex, or flexing, an intensely emotional and acrobatic street-dance style originating in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn, as they exert a positive force in a community challenged by poverty, crime, and violence."

Lady Day: The Many Faces of Billie Holiday
"Features rare TV and movie clips, along with commentary by a stellar group of jazz instrumentalists and singers who knew Billie Holiday well."

Leimert Park: The Story of a Village in South Central Los Angeles
"An extraordinary group of artists and musicians, in the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, create an underground arts movement and transform a community." -- IMDb

Marian Anderson: A Song of Dignity and Grace
"Takes a close look at the life of Marian Anderson and examines how she was able to overcome the racial barriers of her time."

The Revival: Women & the Word
"...chronicles the US tour of a group of Black lesbian poets and musicians, who become present-day stewards of a historical movement to build community among queer women of color. Their journey to strengthen their community is enriched by insightful interviews with leading Black feminist thinkers and historians, including Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Nikki Finney, and Alexis Deveaux. As the group tours the country, the film reveals their aspirations and triumphs, as well as the unique identity challenges they face encompassing gender, race, and sexuality. This is a rarely seen look into a special sisterhood - one where marginalized voices are both heard and respected."

The Singing Stream Series: The Life and Legacy of  Mrs. Bertha Landis from Creedmoor, North Carolina
"The life and leg̀acy of Mrs. Bertha Landis from Creedmoor, North Carolina and 100 years of an American family told through song, stories, and scenes of daily life."

The Spirit Moves: A History of Black Social Dance on Film, 1900-1986
"...a documentary film by Mura Dehn chronicling the evolution of African-American social dance throughout most of the 20th century."

Spirits of Rebellion: Black Independent Cinema from Los Angeles
"...documents the lives and work of a small critically acclaimed group of black filmmakers and media artists known as the Los Angeles Rebellion, a group brought together through shared experiences as students in the UCLA film production MFA program between 1967 and 1992"

"On August 20, 1972, more than 100,000 people attended what came to be known as 'the black Woodstock.' Wattstax documents this historic event and includes the once-lost original ending."

Why We Laugh: Black Comedians on Black Comedy
"Darryl Littleton's insightful book Black Comedians on Black Comedy: How African-Americans Taught Us to Laugh serves as the inspiration for Robert Townsend and Quincy Newell's take no prisoners documentary offering a critical overview and insider's perspective on the cultural impact of black comedy. Icons of comedy Chris Rock, Bill Cosby, and Keenan Ivory Wayans, among others, all weigh in on what it means to be a black comic in America, while cultural critics, noted scholars, and prominent politicians trace the evolution of black comedy from the days of Stepin Fetchit and blackface minstrels straight through the small screen success of The Jeffersons and Good Times and on to the cinematic superstardom enjoyed by Eddie Murphy and Whoopie Goldberg. Dave Chapelle's controversial career serves as a rich topic of debate, while the implication of corporate attempts to capitalize on the remarkable success of Spike Lee's Original Kings of Comedy and Russell Simmons' Def Comedy Jam highlight the ways in which ndividuals can inspire change in a cultural level."