Anthology Film Archives


June 3 – December 31

In light of the radical, tumultuous – and hopefully transformative – events of recent days, it’s clearly a time not for solitary distraction but for active engagement in the struggle for equality, justice, and accountability. Of course, as an institution devoted to independent, avant-garde culture, and in particular to film and video that exists outside and often in opposition to the mainstream, we here at Anthology believe strongly that art can be a means to engagement (many of the filmmakers whose work we’re devoted to preserving and presenting are explicitly committed to changing the status quo). But no work of art can take the place or have the immediate impact of direct action. And in that spirit, we'd like to encourage our audiences to consider taking the time to contact the elected officials who are empowered to actually make meaningful change (whether it’s Mayor Bill de Blasio, NY State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, NYC Council Chair of Committee on Finance Daniel Dromm, NYC Council Public Safety Chair Donovan Richards, NYC Budget Director Melanie Hartzog, or others), and to support or consult the resources we've begun compiling here.

Since Anthology is, after all, a cinema and film archive, with a conviction that movies can foster engagement rather than distraction, we’d like to use the cinema as a lens to focus attention more squarely on the struggle, by sharing a list of films (available online from various sources) whose continuing relevance has been underlined in the wake of further instances of police brutality and the gross infringement of civil rights. The list itself (a highly selective and partial one) suggests, even at a glance, how entrenched racism has been and continues to be in our society, and illustrates the courage of those activists who have waged the fight for generations.

WHOSE STREETS? (Sabaah Folayan & Damon Davis, 2017) is one of the most important documentaries to emerge from the killing of Michael Brown and the subsequent protest movement in Ferguson/St. Louis.

• The 6-part documentary series REST IN POWER: THE TRAYVON MARTIN STORY (Jenner Furst & Julia Willoughby Nason, 2018) is an in-depth chronicle of the Trayvon Martin killing and its aftermath.

CRIME + PUNISHMENT (Stephen Maing, 2018) exposes systemic corruption within the NYPD via the story of the NYPD12, a group of NYC police officers who brought a lawsuit against the city and the department over racist and illegal policing practices.

• 2017 saw the release of a number of accomplished documentaries marking the 25th anniversary of the Rodney King beating and the riots that ensued when his police attackers were acquitted. These films include John Ridley’s LET IT FALL: LOS ANGELES 1982-1992 (2017), which is available on many different platforms; Sacha Jenkins’s BURN MOTHERF*CKER, BURN! (2017), which is currently being made available for free here; and LA 92 (Daniel Lindsay & T. J. Martin, 2017), which is streaming for free here.

• A very different take on the Rodney King events, Roger Guenveur Smith & Spike Lee’s RODNEY KING (2017) documents Smith’s one-man theatrical production.

• Yance Ford’s personal documentary STRONG ISLAND (2017) charts the aftermath of the killing of his brother William Ford Jr. by a 19-year-old white mechanic, who was acquitted following an investigation that treated Ford more as a suspect than a murder victim.

FOR AHKEEM (Landon Van Soest & Jeremy S. Levine, 2017), an intimate and moving portrait of the daily life of a St. Louis high school student, was filmed over the course of two years, a period that saw the killing of Michael Brown and the subsequent protest movement.

• Available to watch for free, STAY WOKE: THE BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT (Laurens Grant, 2016) chronicles the evolution of the Black Lives Matter movement.

DO NOT RESIST (Craig Atkinson, 2016) explores the militarization of local police departments – in their tactics, training, and acquisition of equipment – since 9/11.

• Brett Story’s THE PRISON IN TWELVE LANDSCAPES (2016) focuses on individuals whose lives have been shaped by the prison system. While the location of the prison is far away, the ideological and economic effects are nearby, pervading the social and psychic space of the whole American landscape and touching the lives of everyday people in disquieting ways.

• Two exposés of America’s system of mass incarceration and its devastating and disproportionate impact on African Americans: THE HOUSE I LIVE IN (Eugene Jarecki, 2012) and Ava DuVernay’s 13th (2016).

• Two extraordinary films about the Black Panthers: Agnès Varda’s BLACK PANTHERS (1970), which focuses on Huey P. Newton, is available on the Criterion Channel; while Stanley Nelson’s acclaimed documentary THE BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION (2015) is available on multiple platforms.

LET THE FIRE BURN (Jason Osder, 2013) uses archival footage to chronicle the Philadelphia police’s disastrous attack on the Black Liberation group MOVE in 1985.

THE BLACK POWER MIXTAPE 1967-1975 (Goran Hugo Olsson, 2011) is drawn from 16mm material shot by visiting Swedish journalists who documented some of the leading figures of the Black Power Movement, including Stokely Carmichael, Bobby Seale, Angela Davis, and Eldridge Cleaver.

• Marc Levin’s TWILIGHT: LOS ANGELES (2000) – a film version of the great Anna Deavere Smith’s one-woman theatrical production in which she embodies numerous witnesses to the 1992 riots that resulted from the acquittal of the cops who beat Rodney King – is currently streaming for free via PBS’s “Great Performances.” A film version of Smith’s more recent show, NOTES FROM THE FIELD (Kristi Zea, 2018), in which she dramatizes the accounts of students, parents, teachers, and administrators affected by America’s school-to-prison pipeline, is available via HBO.

• Sherry Millner & Ernest Larsen’s 41 SHOTS (2000) is a short reflection on the murder of Amadou Diallo.

• The 14-part history of the Civil Rights Movement that aired on PBS from 1987-90, EYES ON THE PRIZE remains a monumental achievement. It can be viewed at the Facing History and Ourselves website by creating a free account.

• A chronicle of impassioned community response to decades of deadly force against people of color by members of the Philadelphia police force, BLACK AND BLUE (Hugh King & Lamar Williams, 1987) illustrates the long-standing tensions between police and people of color in communities throughout the U.S.

• Shot during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, AMERICAN REVOLUTION 2 (Howard Alk, Mike Gray & Film Group, 1969) charts the unlikely relationship between the Black Power movement in Chicago and the Young Patriots, a primarily white group that was beginning to organize around issues of social mobility, police brutality, and income inequity.

• Santiago Alvarez’s still-vital short film NOW! (1965), depicting the civil rights struggle (and the brutal crackdown it incurred), can be viewed for free here.

• James Blue’s classic film THE MARCH (1964) documents the 1963 civil rights March on Washington.

• Madeline Anderson’s INTEGRATION REPORT 1 (1960) – the first known documentary film by an African American female director – examines the struggle for black equality in Alabama, Brooklyn, and Washington, D.C.

< Back to Series