Introduction to Afrocentric Cinema Studies

by AfrocentricFilmsCollaborative | created - 22 Apr 2014 | updated - 2 weeks ago | Public

This list is a great introduction to studying African and African Diaspora cinema and film history. Afrocentric Films Collaborative has put together this collection of quality Black Cinema so the general public can research these titles and know that these titles and stories exist. Each title is centered on some aspect of Africa and its Diaspora experience. This goal of this list is to show the rich diversity of storytelling we have as well as the plethora of stories that have not been told and must be told to e positives stories and images of Black/African peoples and cultures.

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1. Cooley High (1975)

PG | 107 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

72 Metascore

In 1964, a group of high school friends who live on the Near North Side of Chicago enjoy life to the fullest...parties, hanging out, meeting new friends. Then life changes for two of the ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Schultz | Stars: Glynn Turman, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Garrett Morris, Cynthia Davis

Votes: 3,888

2. Do the Right Thing (1989)

R | 120 min | Comedy, Drama

92 Metascore

On the hottest day of the year on a street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, everyone's hate and bigotry smolders and builds until it explodes into violence.

Director: Spike Lee | Stars: Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Richard Edson

Votes: 78,585 | Gross: $27.55M

3. Ray (I) (2004)

PG-13 | 152 min | Biography, Drama, Music

73 Metascore

The story of the life and career of the legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles, from his humble beginnings in the South, where he went blind at age seven, to his meteoric rise to stardom during the 1950s and 1960s.

Director: Taylor Hackford | Stars: Jamie Foxx, Regina King, Kerry Washington, Clifton Powell

Votes: 131,214 | Gross: $75.33M

4. The Five Heartbeats (1991)

R | 121 min | Drama, Music

The story of the rise and fall of an African American vocal group.

Director: Robert Townsend | Stars: Robert Townsend, Michael Wright, Leon, Harry Lennix

Votes: 3,417 | Gross: $8.75M

5. Nothing But a Man (1964)

Not Rated | 95 min | Drama, Romance

87 Metascore

A black man and his school-teacher wife face discriminatory challenges in 1960s America.

Director: Michael Roemer | Stars: Ivan Dixon, Abbey Lincoln, Julius Harris, Gloria Foster

Votes: 1,162 | Gross: $0.02M

6. Boyz n the Hood (1991)

R | 112 min | Crime, Drama

76 Metascore

Follows the lives of three young males living in the Crenshaw ghetto of Los Angeles, dissecting questions of race, relationships, violence and future prospects.

Director: John Singleton | Stars: Cuba Gooding Jr., Laurence Fishburne, Hudhail Al-Amir, Lloyd Avery II

Votes: 116,378 | Gross: $57.50M

7. The Women of Brewster Place (1989)

Not Rated | 200 min | Drama

Based on the novel by Gloria Naylor, which deals with several strong-willed women who live in a rundown housing project on Brewster Place in an unidentified eastern city; across three ... See full summary »

Stars: Oprah Winfrey, Mary Alice, Olivia Cole, Robin Givens

Votes: 991

8. The Spook Who Sat by the Door (1973)

PG | 102 min | Action, Drama, Crime

A black man plays Uncle Tom in order to gain access to CIA training, then uses that knowledge to plot a new American Revolution.

Director: Ivan Dixon | Stars: Lawrence Cook, Janet League, Paula Kelly, J.A. Preston

Votes: 1,046

9. Lady Sings the Blues (1972)

R | 144 min | Biography, Drama, Music

The story of the troubled life and career of the legendary Jazz singer, Billie Holiday.

Director: Sidney J. Furie | Stars: Diana Ross, Billy Dee Williams, Richard Pryor, James T. Callahan

Votes: 3,479

10. Brightness (1987)

Not Rated | 105 min | Drama, Fantasy

A young man with magical powers journeys to his uncle to request help in fighting his sorcerer father.

Director: Souleymane Cissé | Stars: Issiaka Kane, Aoua Sangare, Niamanto Sanogo, Balla Moussa Keita

Votes: 1,969

11. Cabin in the Sky (1943)

Passed | 98 min | Fantasy, Musical

A compulsive gambler dies during a shooting, but he'll receive a second chance to reform himself and to make up with his worried wife.

Directors: Vincente Minnelli, Busby Berkeley | Stars: Ethel Waters, Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson, Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong

Votes: 2,595

12. The Color Purple (1985)

PG-13 | 154 min | Drama

78 Metascore

A black Southern woman struggles to find her identity after suffering abuse from her father and others over four decades.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, Margaret Avery

Votes: 73,475 | Gross: $98.47M

13. Killer of Sheep (1978)

80 min | Drama

95 Metascore

Set in the Watts area of Los Angeles, a slaughterhouse worker must suspend his emotions to continue working at a job he finds repugnant, and then he finds he has little sensitivity for the family he works so hard to support.

Director: Charles Burnett | Stars: Henry G. Sanders, Kaycee Moore, Charles Bracy, Angela Burnett

Votes: 5,658 | Gross: $0.40M

14. Imitation of Life (1959)

Not Rated | 125 min | Drama

An aspiring actress befriends a black widow, but trouble arises when the latter is rejected by her daughter, who tries to pass for white.

Director: Douglas Sirk | Stars: Lana Turner, John Gavin, Sandra Dee, Susan Kohner

Votes: 13,882 | Gross: $13.99M

15. The Great Debaters (2007)

PG-13 | 126 min | Biography, Drama, Romance

65 Metascore

A drama based on the true story of Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College Texas. In 1935, he inspired students to form the school's first debate team, which went on to challenge Harvard in the national championship.

Director: Denzel Washington | Stars: Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, Kimberly Elise, Nate Parker

Votes: 54,043 | Gross: $30.23M

16. Roots (1977)

TV-14 | 588 min | Biography, Drama, History

A dramatization of author Alex Haley's family line from ancestor Kunta Kinte's enslavement to his descendants' liberation.

Stars: LeVar Burton, Robert Reed, John Amos, Louis Gossett Jr.

Votes: 15,352

17. Love & Basketball (2000)

PG-13 | 124 min | Drama, Romance, Sport

70 Metascore

Monica and Quincy love and play basketball together through many life challenges from childhood to adulthood.

Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood | Stars: Sanaa Lathan, Omar Epps, Glenndon Chatman, Jess Willard

Votes: 17,229 | Gross: $27.44M

18. Malcolm X (1992)

PG-13 | 202 min | Biography, Drama, History

72 Metascore

Biographical epic of the controversial and influential Black Nationalist leader, from his early life and career as a small-time gangster, to his ministry as a member of the Nation of Islam.

Director: Spike Lee | Stars: Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, Delroy Lindo, Spike Lee

Votes: 78,219 | Gross: $48.17M

19. Hollywood Shuffle (1987)

R | 78 min | Comedy

74 Metascore

An actor limited to stereotypical roles because of his ethnicity, dreams of making it big as a highly respected performer. As he makes his rounds, the film takes a satiric look at African American actors in Hollywood.

Director: Robert Townsend | Stars: Robert Townsend, Craigus R. Johnson, Helen Martin, Starletta DuPois

Votes: 4,535 | Gross: $5.23M

20. Fresh (1994)

R | 114 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

81 Metascore

Death and violence anger a twelve-year-old drug courier, who sets his employers against each other.

Director: Boaz Yakin | Stars: Sean Nelson, Giancarlo Esposito, Samuel L. Jackson, N'Bushe Wright

Votes: 11,482 | Gross: $8.09M

21. Black Girl (1966)

Not Rated | 65 min | Drama

72 Metascore

A black girl from Senegal becomes a servant in France.

Director: Ousmane Sembene | Stars: Mbissine Thérèse Diop, Anne-Marie Jelinek, Robert Fontaine, Momar Nar Sene

Votes: 2,823

22. Porgy and Bess (1959)

138 min | Drama, Musical, Romance

A woman whose past is scorned by nearly everyone around her meets a man who'd love her regardlessly- if only everyone else would allow them to.

Directors: Otto Preminger, Rouben Mamoulian | Stars: Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis Jr., Pearl Bailey

Votes: 1,432

23. Sidewalk Stories (1989)

R | 97 min | Comedy

Nearly silent comedy filmed in black and white follows a street artist (Charles Lane), who rescues a baby after her father was murdered. The artist then sets off to find the mother, but has... See full summary »

Director: Charles Lane | Stars: Charles Lane, Nicole Alysia, Tom Alpern, Edwin Anthony

Votes: 282 | Gross: $0.13M

24. What's Love Got to Do with It (1993)

R | 118 min | Biography, Drama, Music

The story of singer Tina Turner's rise to stardom and how she gained the courage to break free from her abusive husband, Ike Turner.

Director: Brian Gibson | Stars: Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne, RaéVen Kelly, Virginia Capers

Votes: 16,090 | Gross: $39.10M

25. War Witch (2012)

Not Rated | 90 min | Drama, War

84 Metascore

Somewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa, Komona, a 14-year-old girl, tells her unborn child growing inside her the story of her life since she has been at war. Everything started when she was abducted by the rebel army at the age of 12.

Director: Kim Nguyen | Stars: Rachel Mwanza, Alain Lino Mic Eli Bastien, Serge Kanyinda, Ralph Prosper

Votes: 6,799 | Gross: $0.07M

26. Love Jones (1997)

R | 104 min | Drama, Romance

Darius Lovehall is a young black poet in Chicago who starts dating Nina Mosley, a beautiful and talented photographer. While trying to figure out if they've got a "love thing" or are just "... See full summary »

Director: Theodore Witcher | Stars: Larenz Tate, Nia Long, Isaiah Washington, Lisa Nicole Carson

Votes: 3,619 | Gross: $12.51M

27. Uptight (1968)

M | 104 min | Drama, Thriller

Black revolutionaries are betrayed by one of their own. Based on the 1935 classic, "The Informer."

Director: Jules Dassin | Stars: Raymond St. Jacques, Ruby Dee, Frank Silvera, Roscoe Lee Browne

Votes: 502

28. The First Grader (2010)

PG-13 | 103 min | Biography, Drama, Romance

56 Metascore

The story of an 84 year-old Kenyan villager and ex Mau Mau veteran who fights for his right to go to school for the first time to get the education he could never afford.

Director: Justin Chadwick | Stars: Naomie Harris, Oliver Litondo, Tony Kgoroge, Alfred Munyua

Votes: 4,169 | Gross: $0.33M

29. Sounder (1972)

G | 105 min | Drama, Family

80 Metascore

The oldest son of a loving and strong family of black sharecroppers comes of age in the Depression-era South after his father is imprisoned for stealing food.

Director: Martin Ritt | Stars: Cicely Tyson, Paul Winfield, Kevin Hooks, Carmen Mathews

Votes: 3,293

30. Yesterday (I) (2004)

R | 90 min | Drama

After falling ill, Yesterday learns that she is HIV positive. With her husband in denial and young daughter to tend to, Yesterday's one goal is to live long enough to see her child go to school.

Director: Darrell Roodt | Stars: Leleti Khumalo, Lihle Mvelase, Kenneth Khambula, Harriet Lenabe

Votes: 2,129

31. A Hero Ain't Nothin' But a Sandwich (1978)

PG | 107 min | Drama

Benjie is a troubled teen in Los Angeles, living with his grandmother, mother, and her new boyfriend. Traumatized by his father's desertion and the situation at home, Benjie gets introduced... See full summary »

Director: Ralph Nelson | Stars: Cicely Tyson, Paul Winfield, Larry B. Scott, Helen Martin

Votes: 172

32. Sparkle (1976)

PG | 98 min | Drama, Music

Three sisters form a singing group in 1950s Harlem, but success threatens to ruin their relationship forever.

Director: Sam O'Steen | Stars: Philip Michael Thomas, Irene Cara, Lonette McKee, Dwan Smith

Votes: 1,320 | Gross: $4.00M

33. Akeelah and the Bee (2006)

PG | 112 min | Drama, Family

72 Metascore

A young girl from South Los Angeles tries to make it to the National Spelling Bee.

Director: Doug Atchison | Stars: Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne, Keke Palmer, Curtis Armstrong

Votes: 17,594 | Gross: $18.81M

34. Soul Food (1997)

R | 115 min | Comedy, Drama

68 Metascore

One person can keep a family together and, when that one person is gone, a family can be torn apart.

Director: George Tillman Jr. | Stars: Vanessa Williams, Vivica A. Fox, Nia Long, Michael Beach

Votes: 6,516 | Gross: $43.49M

35. Moolaadé (2004)

Unrated | 124 min | Drama

91 Metascore

When a woman shelters a group of girls from suffering female genital mutilation, she starts a conflict that tears her village apart.

Director: Ousmane Sembene | Stars: Fatoumata Coulibaly, Maimouna Hélène Diarra, Salimata Traoré, Dominique Zeïda

Votes: 3,367 | Gross: $0.21M

36. A Woman Called Moses (1978– )

240 min | Biography, Drama

A film about the life and career of the African American abolitionist and slave escape leader, Harriet Tubman.

Stars: Jason Bernard, Clifford David, Judyann Elder, John Getz

Votes: 212

37. Chico & Rita (2010)

Not Rated | 94 min | Animation, Crime, Drama

76 Metascore

Chico is a young piano player with big dreams. Rita is a beautiful singer with an extraordinary voice. Music and romantic desire unites them, but their journey - in the tradition of the Latin ballad, the bolero - brings heartache and torment.

Directors: Tono Errando, Javier Mariscal, Fernando Trueba | Stars: Eman Xor Oña, Limara Meneses, Mario Guerra, Jon Adams

Votes: 8,226 | Gross: $0.35M

38. Yaaba (1989)

90 min | Drama, Family

A small African village. The story focuses on Bila, a ten year old boy who befriends an old woman, Sana. Everybody calls her 'Witch' but Bila himself calls her 'Yaaba' (grandmother). When ... See full summary »

Director: Idrissa Ouedraogo | Stars: Fatimata Sanga, Noufou Ouédraogo, Roukietou Barry, Adama Ouédraogo

Votes: 564

39. Cry Freedom (1987)

PG | 157 min | Biography, Drama, History

59 Metascore

South African journalist Donald Woods is forced to flee the country, after attempting to investigate the death in custody of his friend, the black activist Steve Biko.

Director: Richard Attenborough | Stars: Denzel Washington, Kevin Kline, Josette Simon, Wabei Siyolwe

Votes: 11,837 | Gross: $5.90M

40. Ragtime (1981)

PG | 155 min | Drama

57 Metascore

A young black pianist becomes embroiled in the lives of an upper-class white family set among the racial tensions, infidelity, violence, and other nostalgic events in early 1900s New York City.

Director: Milos Forman | Stars: James Cagney, Elizabeth McGovern, Howard E. Rollins Jr., Brad Dourif

Votes: 8,290 | Gross: $21.02M

41. Pariah (I) (2011)

R | 86 min | Drama

79 Metascore

A Brooklyn teenager juggles conflicting identities and risks friendship, heartbreak, and family in a desperate search for sexual expression.

Director: Dee Rees | Stars: Adepero Oduye, Kim Wayans, Aasha Davis, Pernell Walker

Votes: 5,646 | Gross: $0.76M