Celebrate Black History Month with these six films, selected by our amazing Picture Motion interns! While no one should limit themselves to one month to recognize films by and about African Americans, we hope you can use this list to get started for 2018.
A screening of Black Panther helped our PicMo NYC team leap into an amazing vision of future earlier this month; now celebrate African American achievements in history with these film recommendations!
Whitney Wantong, Georgetown University Student, PicMo NYC Intern
This movie celebrates African American women who contributed to Nasa’s space program despite the racial discrimination and segregation of the 1960s. Taraji P. Henson stars as Katherine Johnson, a mathematician whose calculations helped America reached the moon. As a math major, it is really inspiring to see women who look like me, flourish in the face of adversity.
How to watch: Stream on HBO or Purchase from iTunes, Amazon and Fandango
This film is a stunning, heartfelt depiction of the March On Selma, which was led by Martin Luther King, Jr. The skilled acting and vivid cinematography are so immersive, you really feel like you are in Selma, Alabama as the protest is taking place. It truly makes the lessons from history class come to life.
How to watch: Rent or purchase from iTunes, Google Play, and Fandango
Samena Hoque, Baruch College Student, PicMo NYC Intern
Set during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, The Help depicts an aspiring author who decides to write a book detailing the lives and hardships African American maids go through while working for white families. In this film, Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis come together to bring light to issues we still see today in a powerful and heartwarming manner through comedy, which I believe is the most effective method in getting a message across.
How To Watch: Stream on Amazon Video, Youtube, and iTunes.
This heartwarming and thought-provoking film tells the story of an African American butler who has served in the White House for decades, witnessing both political and social events, all while serving America’s leader during the time. The viewer is taken on a journey with Forest Whitaker, and history is seen through an extraordinary lense. While watching this, I was amazed at the poise and nobility the butler possessed while experiencing these movements first hand, really teaching me how to deal with issues through patience and peace.
How To Watch: Stream on Amazon Video, Youtube, and iTunes
Cidnee Corry, Mount Saint Mary’s University Student, PicMo LA Intern
12 Years A Slave is a grueling and honest look at slavery in pre-Civil War America. Based on Solomon Northup’s memoir, the film follows the story of a free black man kidnapped and sold into the horrors of slavery. I think that sometimes it can be easy to think of slavery as just something of the past. For me, 12 Years A Slave was a big reminder of the hardship my ancestors have been through, and the history that I should always acknowledge. Its depiction of slavery’s physical and psychological torment is a brutal but necessary reminder of our American history.
How to Watch: Stream on Amazon Video and iTunes
Written by and starring one of the most prolific black directors, Spike Lee’s, Do The Right Thing, has created an important dialogue for the decades. Set during a heatwave in New York, Do The Right Thing centers on the boiling racial tensions between residents of the neighborhood, leading to a tragic end. The film insightfully highlights topics such as race, police brutality, and the “right” way to overcome such issues. The film’s vibrant music, cinematography, and characters left a powerful impression on me the first time I watched it. Do The Right Thing’s bold political statements and thought-provoking nature make it one of my favorite films to this day.
How to Watch: Stream on Amazon Video and iTunes
Samena Hoque, NYC Intern
Samena Hoque is currently studying at Baruch College working towards a degree in Economics. Samena is passionate about bringing change towards social justice and economic issues and works with several non-profit organizations to do so. Prior to Picture Motion, Samena worked with the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault as a Youth Advisor to develop a media campaign spreading awareness about sexual assault to minority communities. Samena also loves math and enjoys studying stocks, fundamental analysis, and statistics. In her free time, Samena enjoys learning new languages, practicing calligraphy, and traveling.
Whitney Wantong, NYC Intern
Whitney Wantong is Georgetown University student studying Justice and Peace Studies and Mathematics. She believes that at the intersection of social justice and STEM, there are a wealth of opportunities to innovate to address various social issues and disparities. She is particularly passionate about racial justice and feminism. In her free time, Whitney enjoys reading, running, and working on her coding skills.
Cidnee Corry, LA Intern
Cidnee Corry is a senior at Mount Saint Mary’s University, pursuing a degree in Business Administration with a Marketing emphasis. During her academic career, she has gained experience working in social media management, content creation, and public relations for various small businesses. Cidnee is an active member of the American Advertising Federation and the executive board of MSMU’s Women in Film club. She is passionate about environmentalism and intersectional feminism. In her free time, Cidnee enjoys reading, moviegoing, and cooking.