Scarecrow Video is in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement and stands in opposition to police brutality, systemic racism, and the many terrible injustices for which our country has avoided accountability over the years. We promise to continue to provide a platform and a safe space for the voices of BIPOC and their art in our video archives, and to keep them widely available to the public.
Scarecrow’s vast archive contains many, many works by Black artists, and since it’s our mission to share all movies with everyone, we’ve compiled a list of relevant things to stream (with one or two exceptions for free) right now. Almost all of these works are available to rent from Scarecrow as well. We’ve also tried to include interviews or quotes from these artists discussing their own work in their own words.
“I’m used to watching racist, violent images. So why did George Floyd’s final moments devastate me like it did? I realized that it was because this time the cop isn’t hidden behind a body cam or distorted by grainy surveillance video. . . I started to realize how rare that is. And that led me to think, ‘how many of these police officers do we never see?’ They disappear, end up leaving town, and show up in another department. Their names are said, but it’s never amplified and it’s kind of like this group contract. Somehow, we, as American citizens, have agreed to not speak their names. I do not agree to that anymore.” – Ava DuVernay, Director 13TH, SELMA
SHOT (From Seattle’s Spectrum Dance Theater)
WYATT CENAC’S PROBLEM AREAS (Seasons 1 and 2)
Charles Lane’s funny and moving homage to Charlie Chaplin’s THE KID uses the silent film form to explore homelessness and class/race in 1989 New York City, through the experiences of a struggling street artist. Often haunting and sadly still very relevant, 30 years later.
ON STORY 613: CHARLES BURNETT: FILM AS A MEANS FOR SOCIAL CHANGE (from the Austin Film Festival)
(These titles are free for streaming with a SPL or KCLS library card)
“I’m terrified at the moral apathy, the death of the heart, which is happening in my country. These people have deluded themselves for so long, they really don’t think I’m human. I base this on their conduct, not on what they say. And this means that they have become, in themselves, moral monsters.” – James Baldwin
“It is a terrible thing for an entire people to surrender to the notion that one-ninth of its population is beneath them. And until that moment, until the moment comes when we the Americans, we the American people, are able to accept the fact that I have to accept, for example, that my ancestors are both white and black, that on that continent we are trying to forge a new identity for which we need each other, and that I am not a ward of America, I am not an object of missionary charity, I am one of the people who built the country. Until this moment, there is scarcely any hope for the American dream, because people who are denied participation in it, by their very presence, will wreck it. And if that happens, it is a very grave moment for the West.” – James Baldwin
Further links about James Baldwin:
“My early work really documents the sort of life that I lived and the life that I did not see in the media that was out there at that time, and nobody was doing it. Luckily, I slipped into a place of being like, the first African-American lesbian to make the first African-American lesbian feature film, THE WATERMELON WOMAN. Filmmaking became this way for me to speak about, you know, who I am and what I believe in, and finding myself in history ’cause I wasn’t there.” – Cheryl Dunye
“The hour has come in America when all of us in this room can no longer be the passive recipients of whatever the politics of a nation may decree for us as citizens within the realm. But if we have the courage of our convictions, if we desire to make a contribution, to make this nation bring about the fulfillment of the American Dream so it is meaningful to every segment in America, we will forget what the world will say, whether we are in our place or out of our place.” – Shirley Chisholm
“When I die, I want to be remembered as a woman who lived in the 20th century and who dared to be a catalyst for change.” – Shirley Chisholm
(These titles are free for streaming with a SPL or KCLS library card)
“It’s important that this opens our eyes to not only what happened with George Floyd, or the virus, but also the other kinds of racism that we’re all part of…I’ve been struck by how bad the reporting has been on so many levels. The news cameras are staying way back, behind police lines, they’re not talking to the rational demonstrators to find out why they’re out there. They’re talking about violence as when you destroy property. Violence is when you sit on a guy’s neck until he dies.” – Stanley Nelson, Filmmaker, THE MURDER OF EMMETT TILL, FREEDOM RIDERS, and THE BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION
“At the end of the day, the film is about identity. It’s about how to be yourself. Gay, straight, black, white, or whatever your background, you’re going to be able to connect with somebody on the screen and see yourself, and hopefully look at yourself or the world differently. As I was writing, I didn’t worry about universality. I knew that the more specific I was, the more true it would ring and the more people from all different backgrounds could relate to it.” — Dee Rees, director of PARIAH
On Criterion Channel
Criterion is offering many of their titles free for streaming, including Julie Dash’s DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST, Maya Angelou’s DOWN IN THE DELTA, Shirley Clarke’s PORTRAIT OF JASON, Agnès Varda’s BLACK PANTHERS, Kathleen Collins’ LOSING GROUND, and many more.
“It is no accident that white people do not enjoy seeing ordinary black people’s lives… When Losing Ground was first shown, uh, in a theater for distributors… When white distributors saw that movie, they came up to m–not me–they didn’t dare come up to me, but they came up to the people who were uh, working for us and trying to get us distribution and they said: ‘We don’t know any black people like that. We don’t know any–we don’t know any black women like that and uh, this is amazing because uh, where’s the racial angle here?’ I posit that that movie has so many racial angles, but what it starts from, the premise of the movie… is that no one, ultimately, is going to mythologize my life. No one is going to refuse me the right to explore my experiences of life as normal experiences, neither outside nor inside. Human experiences… When you begin to think about narrative, the problem for us is the process of demythologizing ourselves, otherwise there can be no truth apprehended.” – Kathleen Collins, director LOSING GROUND
IFC Center has also compiled a list of other films centering on Black experiences that have been made available to stream for free by various distributors, which they will continue to update.
In mid-2014, the African American Home Movie Archive was created to serve as an online resource for researchers, educators, students, archive and library professionals, and other interested parties. The main feature of the website is the Black Home Movie Index, an aggregate of African American home movie collections from the early 1920s through the mid-1980s.
“Yeah, I’m a nut. You didn’t know that? Thomas Edison was a nut, until he invented the light bulb. Anybody coming up doing something different can be categorized as a nut, but I’m a proud nut. I even sued Hollywood you know. I sued the Directors Guild for failure to enforce the collective bargaining agreement. They have a clause in the agreement saying producers shall make distinct efforts to increase the employment of women and minority directors by a certain percentage each year. Now in the eighteen years before I filed my suit that percentage had actually decreased. I founded a group called the African American Steering Committee within the Directors Guild and educated myself thoroughly about the collective bargaining agreement. I eventually got before the board, filled with top of the line producers, studio heads and network presidents and asked them if they had any knowledge of this article stating these percentage increases and none of them had. Not one of them. How could they enforce a law that they had never heard of?”
— from this 2008 interview with filmmaker Jamaa Fanaka (PENITENTIARY, EMMA MAE, WELCOME HOME BROTHER CHARLES)
“Right now, the struggle is for African American directors to get films made dealing with other aspect of our culture, or to get films that cost as much as everybody else’s and that gets the same amount of money spent. Right now, there are no African American executives holding jobs at studios who can green light a picture. There’s very few people in marketing departments, the booking department. So we need much greater diversity and representation in the studios.” – Spike Lee from AFI: The Directors – Spike Lee (1997)
“I don’t think the battle today is to get a film made. The battle is in the executive offices of these companies. People of color, we need to be in a room with people sitting around a table deciding what we’re making and not making. And very few people of color have a green light vote. That’s where the battle is – to be in the room where you’re looking at who’s directing it, who’s writing it, who’s starring in it. That’s where the battle is right now – that’s where the battle needs to be in my opinion… Power does not give up power without a fight.” – Spike Lee from In Conversation: Spike Lee w/ Ashley Clark (2019) – extra feature on recent Criterion release of Bamboozled
Charles Burnett: Film as a Means for Social Change
An Austin Film Festival program interviews Burnett about his work.
Moonlight director Barry Jenkins talks about Ruby Dee’s work writing and co-starring in UPTIGHT, an update of John Ford’s The Informer taking place in the aftermath of the MLK assassination.
Shudder has made their documentary Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror available for free right now.
Thanks to Mickey McDonough (one of Scarecrow’s former owners) for compiling the additional resources in this section.
Where to Donate
Bail funds and Organizations:
Victims’ Families and Memorials:
And finally a List of Seattle Black Owned Businesses.
Film is a critical tool for creating empathy, and Scarecrow Video remains ardently committed to being a truly diverse cinematic resource. #BlackLivesMatter and Black voices matter, now and forever.