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Daughters of the Dust (1991) Directed by Julie Dash Dash took it upon herself to create positive depictions of strong, independent-minded black women that were otherwise lacking in American film. Her first feature-length work became the first film directed by an African-American woman to receive US distribution. Twenty-five years and several Dash films later, Daughters of the Dust became a crucial influence on Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade and received a gorgeous 2K restoration (overseen by the...
The Watermelon Woman (1996) Directed by Cheryl Dunye Throughout her first several short pieces in the early 1990s, Dunye created an endearing character: Herself. The auteur-star’s “Cheryl” is a shy, awkward, oft-lovelorn young filmmaker in Philadelphia that seeks to understand her black and lesbian identities better both for her own sake and for the sake of others around her. Cheryl begins Dunye’s debut feature with a direct-camera address in which she mentions the lack of media...
A Face in the Crowd (1957) Directed by Elia Kazan Certainly, Kazan and screenwriter Budd Schulberg's attack on media demagoguery remains as scalding as ever, especially with the emerging ubiquity of social media leading us to be as conscious as ever of public image. But even more startling than the film’s continuing relevance is its potency as nuanced drama. This is not a simplistic tale of innocents corrupted by unchecked power. Larry Rhodes (Andy Griffith)—dubbed "Lonesome"...

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