Flavorwire's 50 Essential African-American Independent Films

Flavorwire's 50 Essential African-American Independent Films's icon

Created by jwlistsonly.

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While there are still too few African-American voices being recognized in Hollywood, recent films like Ava DuVernay’s Selma and Spike Lee’s Da Sweet Blood of Jesus speak to a vital tradition of black independent filmmakers. Even controversial creators like Tyler Perry hail from a long line of filmmakers that includes the directors and stars of the “race films” of the 1920s and 1930s. Many pioneering African-American directors, like Melvin Van Peebles and Julie Dash, were trailblazers who found money for their fiercely idiosyncratic visions. They defied expectations and proved that there was an audience for films about black characters as told by black artists.

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  1. 1 -

    She's Gotta Have It

    1986, in 6 top lists Check
  2. 2 -

    Killer of Sheep

    1978, in 14 top lists Check
  3. 3 -

    Middle of Nowhere

    2012, in 1 top list Check
  4. 4 -

    Chameleon Street

    1989, in 3 top lists Check
  5. 5 -

    Medicine for Melancholy

    2008, in 2 top lists Check
  6. 6 -

    Within Our Gates

    1920, in 7 top lists Check
  7. 7 -

    Cornbread, Earl and Me

    1975 — a.k.a. Hit the Open Man, in 0 top lists Check
  8. 8 -

    Looking for Langston

    1989, in 4 top lists Check
  9. 9 -

    Tongues Untied

    1989, in 11 top lists Check
  10. 10 -

    La permission

    1967 — a.k.a. The Story of a Three-Day Pass, in 1 top list Check
  11. 11 -

    New Jack City

    1991, in 3 top lists Check
  12. 12 -

    Daughters of the Dust

    1991, in 9 top lists Check
  13. 13 -

    Eve's Bayou

    1997, in 6 top lists Check
  14. 14 -

    The Watermelon Woman

    1996, in 7 top lists Check
  15. 15 -

    Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One

    1968, in 7 top lists Check
  16. 16 -

    Ganja & Hess

    1973 — a.k.a. Black Evil, in 3 top lists Check
  17. 17 -

    Losing Ground

    1982, in 4 top lists Check
  18. 18 -

    Will

    1981, in 0 top lists Check
  19. 19 -

    The Long Night

    1976, in 0 top lists Check
  20. 20 -

    Finding Christa

    1991, in 0 top lists Check
  21. 21 -

    Ashes and Embers

    1982, in 1 top list Check
  22. 22 -

    One False Move

    1991, in 8 top lists Check
  23. 23 -

    Black Girl

    1972, in 0 top lists Check
  24. 24 -

    Brother to Brother

    2004, in 0 top lists Check
  25. 25 -

    Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and...

    2014, in 0 top lists Check
  26. 26 -

    Pariah

    2011, in 7 top lists Check
  27. 27 -

    Penitentiary

    1979, in 1 top list Check
  28. 28 -

    Menace II Society

    1993, in 2 top lists Check
  29. 29 -

    A Good Day to Be Black & Sexy

    2008, in 0 top lists Check
  30. 30 -

    Love & Basketball

    2000, in 6 top lists Check
  31. 31 -

    Yelling to the Sky

    2011, in 0 top lists Check
  32. 32 -

    Freedom Riders

    2010, in 1 top list Check
  33. 33 -

    An Oversimplification of Her Beauty

    2012, in 0 top lists Check
  34. 34 -

    Nothing But a Man

    1964, in 5 top lists Check
  35. 35 -

    Night Catches Us

    2010, in 1 top list Check
  36. 36 -

    Fear of a Black Hat

    1993, in 0 top lists Check
  37. 37 -

    The Minority

    2006, in 0 top lists Check
  38. 38 -

    Def by Temptation

    1990, in 0 top lists Check
  39. 39 -

    Black Devil Doll from Hell

    1984, in 0 top lists Check
  40. 40 -

    Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song

    1971, in 12 top lists Check
  41. 41 -

    Paris Is Burning

    1990, in 12 top lists Check
  42. 42 -

    The Blood of Jesus

    1941, in 2 top lists Check
  43. 43 -

    Baadasssss Cinema

    2002, in 0 top lists Check
  44. 44 -

    Punks

    2000, in 0 top lists Check
  45. 45 -

    Fruitvale Station

    2013, in 4 top lists Check
  46. 46 -

    The Flying Ace

    1926, in 1 top list Check
  47. 47 -

    I Am Somebody

    1970, in 3 top lists Check
  48. 48 -

    Suzanne, Suzanne

    1982, in 1 top list Check
  49. 49 -

    A Dream Is What You Wake Up From

    1978, in 0 top lists Check
  50. 50 -

    Sisters in Cinema

    2003, in 0 top lists Check
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Last updated on Feb 21, 2019 by jwlistsonly; source