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6 of Our Favorite Black Filmmakers Name the Films and Directors Everyone Should Know

We asked Gina Prince-Bythewood, Mariama Diallo, Adamma Ebo, Rashaad Ernesto Green, Carey Williams, and A.V. Rockwell to name their favorites. The result: a fresh curriculum for hungry cinephiles.

Courtesy of Everett Collection

A few weeks before Black History Month kicked off (that would be February, as in, today), IndieWire posed an admittedly quite open question to some our favorite Black filmmakers: Who are your favorite Black filmmakers?

The basic pitch was a bit more involved, asking for picks that run more toward “inspiration” and “impact,” with an eye toward the long history of Black filmmakers. We sent a batch of questions to get the creative juices flowing: Which movies did you watch as a kid that shaped your taste? Which filmmaker’s work has inspired the films you make today? Who is a filmmaker deserving of more attention from other movie lovers?

In short, what films and which filmmakers should everyone know about?

The responses, from Gina Prince-Bythewood, Mariama Diallo, Adamma Ebo, Rashaad Ernesto Green, Carey Williams, and newly minted Sundance winner A.V. Rockwell surpassed all expectations.

The filmmakers we polled took a relatively open prompt and ran with it. Some went the top ten list route, while others added in short films and music videos to the kind of lists that often favor only features; most attributed their favorite films to their own creative success, naming the films and filmmakers whose own shots and style they are still trying to crack; Diallo organized her picks around a theme, Green wrote a full essay on Spike Lee’s influence (including how a chance encounter with the fellow filmmaker literally led to Green’s eventual choice to become a director), and Prince-Bythewood spotlighted female directors, complete with her own dream Oscar nominations.

Each of their picks is personal, insightful, and essential. Not just a look at some must-see films for cinephiles of all kinds, these listings also provide an incredible window into the work that came before, and the work that will come after.

The following has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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