Criterion Channel releases free films focusing on Black lives
James R | On 06, Jun 2020
The Criterion Channel has released a collection of films focusing on Black lives.
The US streaming service, which launched last spring following the closure of FilmStruck, is the digital home of the Criterion Collection, known for its high quality of film curation, as well as its in-depth supplementary features. In the UK, cinephiles instead have to turn to subscription services MUBI and BFI Player. This month, however, the Criterion Channel is going global to try and make a difference after the death of George Floyd has sparked a wave of Black Lives Matter protests around the world.
The online channel has removed the paywall from a collection of films that focus on the dreams, struggles, desires, and art of Black characters and real-life subjects – and they’re available in the UK for free too.
“This has been a powerfully emotional time,” the company said in a statement. “The disproportionate toll that COVID-19 has taken on communities of colour; the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade; and the casually lethal racism of the Central Park dog walker who called the cops on bird-watcher Christian Cooper have once again thrown into focus the inescapable reality of systemic racism in our society and the many kinds of violence it inflicts on Black Americans every day.”
“Black Lives Matter. The anguish and fury unleashed all across the country are rooted in centuries of dehumanization and death. This pattern must stop. We support the protesters who have taken to the streets to demand justice, and we share their hopes. We are committed to fighting systemic racism,” it continued.
“We’ve met as a company and a community to talk openly about the work we need to do to build a better, more equitable, more diverse Criterion, beginning with education and training for our ownership and staff. We are also committed to examining the role we play in the idea of canon formation, whose voices get elevated, and who gets to decide what stories get told.”
Criterion understands that art has a role to play in centering and celebrating the experiences of Black people. As a result, you can now stream for free rediscovered gems by mavericks of early African-American cinema such as Oscar Micheaux and Spencer Williams, independent-film landmarks by Charles Burnett and Julie Dash, documentary portraits of black artists by white filmmakers Les Blank and Shirley Clarke, and innovative contemporary work by Khalik Allah. These films offer an invitation to reflect on the resilience and creativity of black individuals and communities in the United States and beyond.
The films are available to stream until the end of June at www.criterionchannel.com/black-lives”.
Here’s the full list:
Body and Soul – Oscar Micheaux • 1925
The Scar of Shame – Frank Perugini • 1929
The Blood of Jesus – Spencer Williams • 1941
Black Girl – Ousmane Sembène • 1966
Portrait of Jason – Shirley Clarke • 1967
Symbiopsychotaxiplasm Take One – William Greaves • 1968
Several Friends – Charles Burnett • 1969
Black Panthers – Agnès Varda • 1970
A Well Spent Life – Les Blank • 1971
Dry Wood – Les Blank • 1973
The Horse – Charles Burnett • 1973
Babylon – Franco Rosso • 1980
Losing Ground – Kathleen Collins • 1982
Suzanne, Suzanne – Camille Billops and James Hatch • 1982
Cane River – Horace Jenkins • 1982
My Brother’s Wedding – Charles Burnett • 1983
Bless Their Little Hearts – Billy Woodberry • 1984
Sidewalk Stories – Charles Lane • 1989
Daughters of the Dust – Julie Dash • 1991
When it Rains – Charles Burnett • 1995
The Watermelon Woman – Cheryl Dunye • 1996
The Final Insult – Charles Burnett • 1997
Down in the Delta – Maya Angelou • 1998
Symbiopsychotaxiplasm Take 2 1/2 – William Greaves • 2005