This year, Black Panther broke several records and was the highest grossing film by a Black director. The superhero movie became a movement for the Black community — families and friends arrived at theaters dressed in dashikis and African inspired garbs. Many saw the movie several times and encouraged others to do the same.
Since the hashtag #Oscarssowhite went viral, Black Hollywood released some of the biggest box office hits year after year. All of the credit must be given to the talent both in front and behind the scenes. Last year, we saw two blockbusters Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Will Packer’s Girls Trip. This summer seems to be no different, with the release of two critically acclaimed movies back to back, Sorry to Bother You and BlacKKKlansman.
The movies definitely share common themes around social justice, racism and activism. The themes should be no surprise due to the current social climate in America that Black filmmakers, not to mention Black people, are sharing similar streams of thought. The biggest surprise is that the topics addressed in the film do not scare off white audiences. Sorry to Bother You is a film by musician now turned director Boots Riley. The dark comedy addresses some civil and social issues that people of color face in America. The film also includes a star-studded cast including Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thomson, Omari Hardwick, Steve Yeun, Terry Crews, and Danny Glover.
August Spike Lee’s film BlacKKKlansman was released. The film was based on the true-story of Black police officer who infiltrated the KKK. Subsequently the iconic director also landed himself on the cover of one of the most notable magazines, Time. The cover captured the director with the caption “Spike Lee’s Long Game”. Spike Lee first feature film, She’s Gotta Have It, was release in 1986. Finally magazines like Time are acknowledging him for his work.
It took almost 100 years but it finally seems like Hollywood has opened its eyes and sees the enormous value in investing in Black films made by Black filmmakers. Black people aren’t monoliths so of course we want to see diverse stories that capture our identities as superheroes, artist, crime fighters, and anything we can imagine. We hope this is only the beginning and it won’t it be a just a small blip in the timeline of American cinematic history.