Turner Classic Movies and the African American Film Critics Association have partnered on The Black Experience on Film, a monthlong programming initiative showcasing portrayals of African-Americans throughout cinematic history.
Hosted by 13 different members of the AAFCA from print, online and broadcast outlets, programming begins September 4 and continues every Tuesday and Thursday in primetime.
The Black Experience on Film provides a wide-ranging retrospective from the 1920s through the 1990s including:
- Exploring Black Identity airing Sept. 4 – AAFCA president Gil Robertson and cultural critic Ronda Racha Penrice explore films ranging from Oscar Micheaux’s look at racial violence in Within Our Gates (1920) to Julie Dash’s 1991 story following three generations of Gullah women in Daughters Of The Dust;
- Hollywood Confronts Racism airing Sept. 6 – AAFCA co-founder and film critic Shawn Edwards and HipHollywood.com’s Jasmine Simpkins examine A Raisin in the Sun (1961), about a black Chicago family searching for a better life, and A Soldier’s Story (1984), about the murder of a black U.S. Army sergeant;
- African Americans Coming of Age airing Sept. 11 – Awards Circuit’s Clayton Davis and Jasmine Simpkins highlight films such as Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Bellefonte’s starring vehicle Bright Road (1953), about a troubled elementary student, and Sounder (1972), about the struggles of a family of black sharecroppers during the Great Depression;
- Black Romance in Film airing Sept. 13 – longtime entertainment journalist Lee Thomas and Emmy-winning journalist Kelley Carter examine Anna Lucasta (1958), featuring performances by Eartha Kitt and Sammy Davis Jr., and A Warm December (1973), starring Sidney Poitier as a widowed American doctor who falls for an African princess;
- African-American Musicals airing Sept. 18 – Black Tree Media’s Jamaal Finkley and Black Tomatoes host Carla Renata delve into Cabin in the Sky (1943), about a gambler’s efforts to get into heaven, and Carmen Jones (1954), which made star Dorothy Dandridge the first African American to be nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award
- Strong Black Women airing Sept. 20 – Fortune correspondent Anita Bennett and veteran entertainment journalist KJ Matthews review films including Claudine (1974), the story of a single mother in Harlem, and Sparkle (1976), inspired by the musical group The Supremes;
- African-American Comedies airing Sept. 25 – AAFCA co-founder and film critic Shawn Edwards and award-winning writer Edward Adams discuss Watermelon Man (1970), starring Godfrey Cambridge as a white insurance salesman who wakes up to find he has turned black, and Robert Townsend’s satire Hollywood Shuffle (1987);
- Black Stories from Around the World airing Sept. 27 – Gil Robertson and WGN’s Tyra Martin study Cry, the Beloved Country (1951), starring Canada Lee and Sidney Poitier as South African ministers who struggle to help individuals damaged by their country’s policies of apartheid, and Walkabout (1971), a film about two white students who find themselves reliant on aid from an Aboriginal boy to survive while adrift in the Australian outback.
“Since the earliest days of film, the portrayal of black characters has ranged from stereotypical and one-dimensional to more nuanced and complex,” said Charles Tabesh, senior vice president of programming & production, TCM. “With this programming tentpole, we will explore this important part of film history specifically from an African-American perspective with insightful commentary from some of the nation’s most prominent film critics. Our partnership with the AAFCA is important, and together we aim to tell a contextualized and curated story of The Black Experience on Film.”
“It is both an honor and a privilege for AAFCA and its members to work with Charles Tabesh and the rest of the TCM team to facilitate such impactful programming,” said AAFCA president, Gil Robertson. “The legacy of African Americans in cinema often goes untold, but it has been a long and arduous journey. Since the earliest beginnings of the art form, African Americans have had a presence in cinema. That is the point we hope these 32 films will drive home. Our intent is that audiences be engaged, entertained and enlightened by the sheer diversity and breadth of this substantial arc of film programming.”