There is so much going on in the world one can find it challenging to process it all. The news can leave us feeling enraged, fearful, heartbroken and depressed.
Everyone has their own way of dealing with social melt-down and volatility. However, if real change is to occur, this cannot be another uprising of emotion brought about by endless tragic news cycles. Social media posting or expressing indignation only goes so far. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves, learn what we can do to be better allies, and strengthen the globally-connected movement for unity and peace.
In honor of George Floyd and countless others, we stand in solidarity – united with our black brothers and sisters to end the traumatic systems of oppression they have faced for far too long. We also stand with an array of groups and organizations doing vital peace, environmental and economic justice work and recognize the voice of “We the People” that is being heard around the world.
The human mind is wired to have biases — and plenty of them. It is our task to break the cycles of violence by exploring our biases and by deeply listening and learning. If we work at consciously acknowledging and overriding our biases, it is a step in the right direction towards understanding and empathizing with others. This is where true change happens.
The Latin definition for compassion is “to suffer together.” Now is the time to channel our grief and outrage into regenerative action — the healing of hearts and the rebuilding of our communities. This is where we can show up in relational gatherings — to hold space for understanding and the sharing of how we really feel.
Films for the Planet’s parent nonprofit organization, Compathos, is all about “pathos” — the story that evokes empathy and inspires action. We believe that change happens when people are inspired by examples of a better path – by everyday heroes who bring us closer to our ideals. To that end, we are sharing a curated list of films on the black experience in America. Some are FREE during the month of June, others have free learning and conversation guides.
Many of these films are experiencing increased viewership as people seek out socially-relevant content amidst the global protests. According to IndieWire, “A new report from data firm Parrot Analytics noted that U.S. demand for “Dear White People” grew 329 percent during global protests in June 2020, while “When They See Us” was up 147 percent compared to the previous week. The third season of “Dear White People” and Ava DuVernay’s “When They See Us” miniseries premiered in mid-2019.
Listen Deeply Films
A Concerto Is a Conversation
Kris Bowers is a virtuoso jazz pianist and film composer who co-produced this heart-melting film that tracks his family’s lineage through his 91-year-old grandfather from Jim Crow Florida to the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
“A Concerto Is a Conversation” was selected to premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. The 13-minute short is positioned to be an early Oscar contender. CLICK HERE to watch the Interview with Executive producer Ava DeVernay and Kris Bowers.
Kris scored “When they See Us” (above). Bowers won a Daytime Emmy for his work on “The Snowy Day” (2016). He earned a Critics Choice nomination for “Green Book” (2018), which won the Oscar as Best Picture. His other TV credits include “Dear White People,” “For the People,” and “Black Monday.”
When They See Us
Oprah Winfrey, Executive Producer
When They See Us is a 2019 American drama web television miniseries created, co-written, and directed by Ava DuVernay for Netflix, that premiered in four parts on May 31, 2019. It is based on events of the 1989 Central Park jogger case and explores the lives and families of the five male suspects who were falsely accused then prosecuted on charges related to the rape and assault of a woman in Central Park, New York City. When They See Us received acclaim for its performances and casting. At the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards, it received 11 nominations; Jerome won for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie while it was nominated for Outstanding Limited Series and Ellis, Nash, Blackk, Leguizamo, Williams, Blake, and Farmiga all received acting nominations. The series also won the Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Limited Series.
“When They See Us” opened eyes around the world to the true story of the Exonerated 5, now a new free interactive guide is available to help deepen our learning and take action to end injustices in the criminal justice system.
Just Mercy is a 2019 American legal drama film directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, and starring Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Rob Morgan, Tim Blake Nelson, Rafe Spall, Karan Kendrick and Brie Larson. It tells the true story of Walter McMillian, who, with the help of young defense attorney Bryan Stevenson, appeals his murder conviction. The film is based on the memoir of the same name, written by Stevenson. After graduating from Harvard, Bryan Stevenson heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned or those not afforded proper representation. One of his first cases is that of Walter McMillian, who is sentenced to die in 1987 for the murder of an 18-year-old girl, despite evidence proving his innocence. In the years that follow, Stevenson encounters racism and legal and political maneuverings as he tirelessly fights for McMillian’s life.
Just Mercy had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and was theatrically released by Warner Bros. Pictures in 2019. The film received positive reviews from critics, and Foxx received a nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role at the 26th Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Cracking the Codes
The System of Racial Inequity
Cracking the Codes asks America to talk about the causes and consequences of systemic inequity. Designed for dialogue, the film works to disentangle internal beliefs, attitudes and pre-judgments within, and it builds skills to address the structural drivers of social and economic inequities. Cracking the Codes supports institutions and communities to deepen and shift the framing of racial disparities. The current conversation is not only shallow, but actually harmful. We continue to primarily focus on individuals, when institutional and structural inequities are the bigger problem.
The film contains three sections that correspond to World Trust’s framing of the self-perpetuating system of racial inequity:
- Section 1: Social Determinants: History, Identity & Culture
- Section 2: Internal Components: Bias, Privilege, Internalized Racism
- Section 3: External Relationships: Interpersonal, Institutional, Structural
The film features moving stories from racial justice leaders including Amer Ahmed, Michael Benitez, Barbie-Danielle DeCarlo, Joy DeGruy, Harley Eagle, Ericka Huggins, Yuko Kodama, Peggy McIntosh, Rinku Sen, Tillman Smith and Tim Wise.
CLICK HERE to download the free conversation guide.
13th The U.S. imprisons more people than any other country in the world, and a third of U.S. prisoners are black. In this documentary, director Ava DuVernay argues that mass incarceration, Jim Crow and slavery are “the three major racialized systems of control adopted in the United States to date.” Combining archival footage with testimony from activists and scholars, director Ava DuVernay’s examination of the U.S. prison system looks at how the country’s history of racial inequality drives the high rate of incarceration in America. This piercing, Oscar-nominated film won Best Documentary at the Emmys, the BAFTAs and the NAACP Image Awards. US Rating: TV-MA For mature audiences. May not be suitable for ages 17 and under.
Finding Justice is a new documentary series on Amazon from Executive Producer Dwayne Johnson that exposes injustices in Black communities across America. The series travels the country to join heroes, leaders, and activists as they battle to bring change to the cities. Stories address challenges such as voter suppression, criminalization of kids, police brutality and lead poisoning.
Dear White People
Dear White People is based on the acclaimed film of the same name, this Netflix-original series follows a group of students of color at Winchester University, a predominantly white Ivy League college. The students are faced with a landscape of cultural bias, social injustice, misguided activism and slippery politics. Through an absurdist lens, the series uses irony, self-deprecation, brutal honesty and humor to highlight issues that still plague today’s”post-racial” society. Creator Justin Simien serves as an executive producer.
Whose Streets? The 2014 killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Mo. was one of the deaths that sparked the Black Lives Matter movement. Frustrated by media coverage of unrest in Ferguson, co-directors Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis documented how locals felt about police in riot gear filling their neighborhoods with tear gas. As one resident says, “They don’t tell you the fact that the police showed up to a peaceful candlelight vigil…and boxed them in, and forced them onto a QuikTrip lot.”
12 Years a Slave
12 Years a Slave This Oscar-winning pick recounts the journey of Solomon Northup, a violinist who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C., sold into slavery in Louisiana and eventually found and freed to return back to his family. In this Best Picture winner based on an 1853 memoir by Solomon Northrup, Chiwitel Ejiofor plays Northrup, a black man born free in New York who is kidnapped. The film charts Northrup’s twelve years of back-breaking work on a southern plantation, as well as his efforts to escape slavery. Directed by Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave was celebrated as one of the finest films of the year for its unflinching look at the violence and abuse that black Americans like Northrup were subjected to on plantations.
Still I Rise
Maya Angelou’s electrifying poem “Still I Rise” was written nearly 40 years ago, this classic anthem is current and relevant. Periodically, the tectonic plates of social, political, and economic forces collide and the fault lines beneath us rupture violently. Though we sometimes fail to recognize these fissures, they’re always lurking. Eventually though, tensions reveal themselves, and with that exposure comes an opportunity to confront the underlying gaps of injustice, intolerance, and inequality—and to identify paths forward. On which side of the divide do you find yourself? Where will you forge common ground?
Co-produced by the Skoll Foundation and the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the Saïd Business School, the Skoll World Forum shines a spotlight on best practices, new innovations and connecting leaders to one another to further global social progress. VIDEO CREDITS Poem “Still I Rise” written and performed by Maya Angelou DIRECTORS Gabriel Diamond Phil Collis Patrick Barnes EDITOR Patrick Barnes MUSIC COMPOSITION/SOUND DESIGN Bobby Brinkerhoff
Streaming on the Criterion Channel
Julie Dash’s “Daughters of the Dust”
Maya Angelou’s “Down in the Delta”
Shirley Clarke’s “Portrait of Jason”
Agnès Varda’s “Black Panthers”
Kathleen Collins’ “Losing Ground”
AND MANY MORE!
Color of Change
The Love Land Foundation
Books, films, podcasts from NPR
Studies of Unconscious Bias: Racism Not Always by Racists
Real Leaders – The Forgiveness and Healing of America
158 Resources to Understand the History of Racism
Articles, videos, podcasts, and websites from the Smithsonian
Other Notable Mentions
Oscar-winning Drama – Moonlight by Barry Jenkins‘
Dee Rees Drama – Mudbound
TV Show – Orange Is the New Black
Documentary Series – They’ve Gotta Have Us
Daniel Lindsay & T. J. Martin Documentary – LA 92
Kerry Washington Documentary – American Son
Spike Lee’s New Vietnam Movie – Da 5 Bloods
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