Classic movies by black filmmakers are now free on the Criterion Channel – CNET


daughters-of-the-dust

The history-making film Daughters of the Dust.

Criterion

The Criterion Collection, a film lover’s paradise that specializes in distributing important and classic movies, has opened its vault to help highlight films that focus on black lives. Amid the protests over the death of George Floyd, the company has joined Warner Bros., A24 and Bad Robot in offering films about black lives for free and donating to organizations that battle systemic racism in the US.

You’ll find these films on the Criterion Channel, the company’s streaming platform, which features a collection dedicated to works by early pioneers of African American Cinema.

Some of those ground-breaking filmmakers and their films include: Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust from 1991 — the first feature film directed by an African American woman to have a theatrical release in the US; Maya Angelou’s Down in the Delta; Agn├Ęs Varda’s Black Panthers; and Kathleen Collins’ Losing Ground.

There’s also contemporary work by Khalik Allah and Leilah Weinraub, as well as documentary portraits of black experience by white filmmakers Les Blank and Shirley Clarke.

In a Thursday statement, Criterion said, “We’ve taken down the paywall on as many of these titles as we can, so even if you aren’t a subscriber you can watch them for free.” (This appears to be available only in the US.)

The company also said it will donate $25,000 to organizations fighting racism in America, with an ongoing $5,000 monthly contribution.

Earlier this week, Warner Bros. announced that throughout June, Just Mercy will be free to rent on all digital platforms (Apple TV Plus, Amazon), to help educate on systemic racism in American society. The 2019 legal drama, starring Michael B. Jordan, tells the true story of African American man Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), who was wrongly convicted of murder.

Head to IndieWire to read Criterion’s full statement.

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