February marks the start of Black History Month, which pays tribute to the culture, history and triumphs of Black Americans. To celebrate, The Eagle has compiled a list of five Black-directed films that center Black joy.
Directed by The Roots drummer and frontman Questlove, “Summer of Soul” is a documentary that tells the story of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival. Known as the “Black Woodstock,” the annual series of concerts invited singers such as Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Chuck Jackson and more to Harlem to perform.
The documentary looks at the makings of the festival, with interviews from attendees, musicians and journalists, providing commentary on the festival’s importance to the Black music scene. The documentary also investigates the festival’s lack of recognition as compared to Woodstock, which overlapped with the Harlem Cultural Festival.
“Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” is available to watch with a Hulu subscription.
The Eagle reviewed “Rye Lane” last April, calling it “a delightful, subversive and visually stunning instant classic,” with all the tropes of a classic British rom-com. Directed by Raine Allen Miller — who made her feature debut with this film — “Rye Lane” has it all: a meet-cute, the stunning sights and sounds of London and, of course, charming accents.
“Rye Lane” is available to watch with a Hulu subscription.
Before “RENAISSANCE,” there was “Homecoming.”
Arguably one of the best concert films of all time, “Homecoming” is the filmed version of Beyoncé’s groundbreaking 2018 Coachella performance. Beyoncé directed both the performance and the film, which pay tribute to the culture of historically Black colleges and universities and historically Black sororities and fraternities. Step numbers are woven into the performance, along with instrumentals provided by HBCU marching bands and majorettes all sporting a “BeyHive” sorority crest — creating a love letter to Black culture.
The film includes behind-the-scenes footage of the making of the concert, some of Beyoncé’s best hits and guest performances from Destiny’s Child, Solange, Jay-Z and more. If you haven’t seen “Homecoming” yet, now’s the time.
“Homecoming” is available to watch with a Netflix subscription.
This biopic, directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, tells the story of Richard Williams, the father of Venus and Serena Williams, as he coaches his daughters to tennis fame. The film was nominated for Best Picture at the 94th Academy Awards and Will Smith won Best Actor for the titular role.
Smith balances the roles of concerned father and helicopter parent, as he handles being both his daughters’ manager and father. With an incredible cast and feel-good family motifs, “King Richard” is a movie for tennis fans and film-buffs alike.
“King Richard” is available to watch with a Hulu subscription.
Based on a memoir of the same name, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” tells the story of William Kamkwamba, a boy who saves his Malawi village from famine by building a windmill. While newcomer Maxwell Simba, playing Kamkwamba, has a tough job, he manages to make the audience laugh, cry and smile all at the same time.
While you’ll want to hold onto your tissues throughout this film, the ending is worth the wait.
“The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” is available to watch with a Netflix subscription.
Whether it’s learning Beyoncé’s iconic choreography, catching up on Oscar-winning acting or celebrating the story behind the best athletes of our time, these movies are sure to bring some joy to this Black History Month.
This article was edited by Bailey Hobbs, Zoe Bell, Sara Winick and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Luna Jinks and Sydney Kornmeyer.