*Danger, Will Robinson: Affiliate Links Ahead! Clicking on some links may compensate myself and the blog. Read the disclosure policy for complete info.*
You need to know what to watch and you need to know what to watch now. Am I right? Last year I focused on the Women to Watch list each month*. This year, I’d like to give you more recommended viewing, more frequently. Short reviews, pointing you in the right direction.
*Is this something you’d like to see return? All feedback welcome and appreciated.
With that said, whoever thought this presidency was going to be the gift of endless material that artists have been waiting for: it now takes me two hours a day to simply sift through the morning news. So no, I’m not finding the current era stimulating to my productivity. Opinions and emotions pour out of me in buckets of liberal tears, but knowing what and how to write it? That’s a challenge.
So with that in mind, here’s what I’m calling a bunch of quick crits; short reviews to get you interested, watching, and talking about what’s good.
It seems a particularly important time to be celebrating Black History Month in America. I don’t have to tell you why (please, don’t make me tell you why). In doing that this year, I decided to shift the focus away from icons of the past (though you’ll see the mark of history in every work within this post) and shine a lens on the black filmmakers working right now.
Who are the black filmmakers currently working in our film industry?
Some are studio directors. Others independent writer/directors. Interestingly, many are working with and employing each other. All are doing not just good work, but great work. And despite the general notion that black stories do not attract audiences or the money that comes with them, many (if not most) of those on this list prove that myth absolutely false.
This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a start. Rather embarrassingly, I haven’t watched every film on this list (or even the majority). Like you, and almost everyone else, I watch what is most easily accessible. That’s usually whatever my local Regal is playing on cheap Tuesday, or whatever Netflix suggests I might like next. It’s also usually something by a well-known, white male director – because that’s what’s marketed to us. That’s a shame.
But it’s okay. Because we can change it. If there’s anything helpful I can do as a white American, it’s actually watch the work of black filmmakers working in this country. So, perhaps we can start together. Maybe we can forego our Netflix suggestions and search for one of these titles; maybe the algorithm will eventually pick up on it; maybe it’ll actually change what we’re regularly watching.
10 Black Filmmakers Whose Work You Can Watch NOW
What follows is a list of directors, a short biography, and the project they’re currently working on. A list of films by each filmmaker that you should start with. Finally, a trailer to help you pick something to watch tonight.
*Danger, Will Robinson: Affiliate Links Ahead! Asterisks (*) denote links that when clicked on, may compensate myself and the blog. Read the disclosure policy for complete info.*
First of all, I’m late. Everyone else did these 2016 film and tv lists in January. It’s February 2nd. So in the interest of not repeating three thousand other lists (and also in being, well, interesting), I’m going to attempt to focus on the 2016 film and tv that you might not be seeing.
Yes, you should all see Moonlight, Hidden Figures, The People vs. O.J. Simpson – basically everything but La La Land (disclaimer: I haven’t even seen it, I just know I’ll hate it). But let’s not forget these lesser gabbed about gems that also made their mark on 2016.
And when it comes to my worst of 2016 film and tv, feel free to take me to town. There’s bound to be some disagreement – is Hardcore Henry the best thing that’s happened to cinema since the long take in Touch of Evil? (it’s not) – but also, I hope, some mutual understanding.
And as always, I appreciate a reason to rethink my initial impressions. So if you’ve got good crit on any of my worst picks (or the best ones), send it over. You just might change my mind.
Another month has passed, Fall is officially in full swing, and you know what time it is – time for October new releases!
It feels like just yesterday (it was only a couple of weeks ago) that I was hammering out TWO separate lists to cover September’s offerings in film and television. This month is a little less crazy, but no less full in terms of offerings from female creators.
Yes, you heard me right – there were TOO MANY female directed (written, directed, produced, you name it) projects to list in one post this month. Enter the Fall Television special – wherein we list every bit of tv programming created by women in September.
It’s a big task (YES!), but somebody’s gotta do it.
When I think August, I think END OF SUMMER. That’s a frightening thought. So let’s think AUGUST NEW RELEASES instead, shall we?
What’s The Women to Watch List?
I started this project all the way back in May. Three months later and I’m both surprised and not surprised. Surprised, because there are SO MANY movies and television shows I would not have thought to watch (or even known were premiering), that are the product of women in the film industry. Not surprised, because (as you’ll see with these August new releases) there just aren’t enough.
I premiered this monthly series back in May as a means to an end. An end to not knowing how few feature films are written and directed by women each year; to missing some of the best female created series on television; to just not knowing what the hell to watch.
Why not get all the work in one place and help support these women filmmakers, writers, and show-runners?
And so here we are. June’s list was heavy on the television. July is nicely balanced, with more to offer on the theatrical front. I’m very pleased to see two major studio productions (Absolutely Fabulous and Ghostbusters) with huge female influences.
A systemic, deep-set, unacceptable, not-so-small problem. Women filmmakers – where are they? Do they exist? Are they all on some secret retreat writing, planning, getting ready to release their work into the world on a historic day called THE DAY WOMEN FINALLY TAKE OVER THE WORLD?
Probably not (but I’ve still got my fingers crossed).
I read some sad statistics earlier in the week that unfortunately only fueled my frustration.
Out of every big studio film released in Hollywood in 2015, only 9% were directed by women filmmakers.
9%! 9. fucking. percent.
Independent film doesn’t fare much better considering it has “independent,” and therefore the illusion of freedom in the title – documentary filmmakers are 35% female, and only 19% working on narrative film (stats from Number of Women Indie Filmmakers Stagnant – by Brent Lang, Variety).
March was full of sick days and unexpected down time. Terrible for doing work, wonderful for watching as much Netflix as possible, and therefore, providing you with a rather dense and rich list of March Favorites. You’re welcome.