Juneteenth Film Recommendations From Apple TV And Curator Maya Cade

Now that Juneteenth is celebrating its second anniversary as an official U.S holiday, the debate on just how to commemorate the day rages on. The holiday takes place on June 19, to commemorate the date when enslaved people in Texas were finally notified of the Emancipation Proclamation – 2.5 years after it was signed. This year, that date coincided with Father’s Day, but the federal holiday is observed today, on Monday, since June 19 was on a Sunday.

That said, to commemorate the day, some folks are pouring libations for ancestors, other are gathering outdoors with family, some are boating and some are participating in outdoor festivals with an emphasis on black-owned business. And some, well, are binging black films on Apple
TV courtesy of a curated list provided by the Maya Cade, the creator of Black Film Archive.

It’s a good day to kick back and review some classics which fall under one of three pillars: Visions, Community and Joy. Cade, a newly-named scholar-in-residence at the Library of Congress, created the pillars.

“When I think of Juneteenth, I think of the promise of tomorrow,” Cade writes for Apple TV. “This Juneteenth marks two years since the George Floyd protests of June 2020, and I believe these three thematic pillars add cinematic language to the path forward.”

The collection is impressive, providing a nice balance between history, the present and the future while also shining a light on black history, black filmmakers and Oscar-worthy performances by black actors. For example, director William Greaves’ “Nationtime” documentary gets top billing. The documentary, re-released in 2020 because in the past it was considered too “militant” for tv, is about the 1972 National Black Political Convention held in Gary, Indiana, included folks like Jesse Jackson, Robert Roundtree, Coretta Scott King and Amira Baraka. The film is narrated by Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte. It’s a moment in history worth revisiting anytime, but especially in concert with Juneteenth. Balance that piece with “The Brother From Another Planet,” a 1984 comedy classic directed by John Sayles that showcases a UFO pilot who crash lands into the Hudson River.

There are others. Under the Community heading, you can view Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing,” and the uber cute “Miss Juneteenth.” Under the Joy heading, you will find hits like “The Bernie Mac Show,” “The Inkwell” and “If Beale Street Could Talk.”

These films are always available for the streaming, but it’s nice to have an emphasis on them at this moment in time, and especially nice to be able to reference a curated collection for those moments when you’re not sure what to watch, but need a recommendation.

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