Reiterating a suggestion I previously made… if you’re a filmmaker/producer/distributor reading this, and your film is streaming on Netflix, please let me know. Netflix unfortunately doesn’t have what I feel should be a more efficient search/sort method, and it can be quite a chore trying to find something worth watching. So, help me out if you can.
The same goes for non-filmmakers. If you stumble across any titles that you think should be featured in this weekly series, let me know!
But as usual… These aren’t necessarily recommendations. Consider the list more of an FYI – films and TV shows we’ve talked about on this site, at one time or another, that are now streaming on Netflix, that you might want to check out for yourselves.
Without further ado, here is this week’s list of 5:
1 – The film that launched Nicole Beharie’s on-screen career, also her feature film acting debut, American Violet – a factual story set in small town Texas, in 2000, that tells the story of Dee Roberts, a 24 year old African American mother of four, who is swept up in a drug raid and falsely accused based on the uncorroborated testimony of a single informant. Despite the urging of her mother Alma, Dee rejects a plea bargain that would release her from jail but forever brand her as a felon. With the custody of her children at stake, she instead decides to take on the powerful district attorney behind it all, Calvin Beckett, and with inspiring courage and dignity, she overcomes seemingly insurmountable obstacles, forever changing her and the Texas justice system.
Then newcomer Beharie was joined by Alfre Woodard as Dee’s mother, Charles S Dutton, and many more.
Tim Disney, the great-grand nephew of Walt Disney, directed the film.
It was a strong acting debut for Beharie and worth a look if you’ve never seen the film.
2 – In honor of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, a PBS POV documentary on Bayard Rustin, titled Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin.
3 – Rejoice And Shout, a Shadow And Act recommendation in 2011 when it was released, calls itself the DEFINITIVE filmed history of Gospel music.
Directed by Don McGlynn, the documentary features interviews with musicians like Smokey Robinson, Mavis Staples, Ira Tucker, Marie Knight, and many, many, many more. It traces the history of gospel music from its beginnings on Southern plantations and Baptist churches to national prominence.
It also features a wealth of archival footage of legendary gospel acts such as Mahalia Jackson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, The Dixie Hummingbirds, The Staples Singers, The Blind Boys of Alabama, and several others.
The film saw a limited theatrical run during the summer of 2011 and went on to gross just over $100,000 at the box office.
Watch the trailer:
4 – A riveting doc finally available to stream on Netflix. Released in 2012, An African Election, a film by Jarreth Merz, captures the 2008 presidential elections in Ghana. Offering a behind-the-scenes look at the complex, political machinery of a working democracy struggling to legitimize itself on the international stage, the film reveals that the process of democracy in other countries is no less tumultuous than that of the United States.
Merz follows the key players for almost three months to provide an unprecedented insider’s view of the political, economic and social forces at work in Ghana, taking the viewer down the back roads of the nation, capturing each unexpected twist and turn in a contest that is always exciting and never predictable.
Watch the trailer:
5 – The documentary that was released about a year before the allegations of improper sexual conduct with minors controversy that followed its star, Kevin Clash, to his eventual resignation from his post at Sesame Street.
Before the film’s 2011 release, I doubt most folks knew that the person who long voiced Elmo (the extremely popular Sesame Street muppet) was a black man. If you did, feel free to pat yourself on the back twice.
Titled Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey, and directed by Constance Marks, the documentary introduces you to the unlikely man behind the puppet – the heart and soul of Elmo – Kevin Clash.
Clash officially became a puppeteer on Sesame Street in 1984, and was the man behind Elmo for much of his career. He won Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Performer in a Children’s Series for his work as Elmo, and Hoots the Owl, on Sesame Street, 7 years in a row – 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and again in 2009.
Watching this after being made aware of the allegations of improper sexual conduct with minors just doesn’t feel the same as when I watched it before those same allegations were made public.