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African American Film Directors   Tags: african americans, directors, film, television  

Last Updated: Jun 19, 2013 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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This guide to African American film directors came about because I went looking for a succinct list of directors one day and wasn't satisfied with what I found. It started as focused on the collection at James Madison University Libraries but has now expanded to include films directed by African Americans regardless of whether or not they are in the James Madison University Libraries collection.

Each tab along the top is dedicated to a director or director team.

This guide is in transition to this new look. Until all the content is moved over, visit the old version at:



Films about African American Film & Directors

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Afro Promo: Black Cinema Trailers 1946-1976 (DVD)
Publication Date: 2006
A collection of black cinema trailers from 1946-1974. Film genres include blaxploitation, comedy, and sports, and the compilation features trailers for films by African-American cinema stars such as Sidney Poitier, James Earl Jones, Billy Dee Williams, Richard Pryor, and Pam Grier

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BaadAssss Cinema: a Bold Look at 70's Blaxploitation Films (DVD)
ISBN: 0767049632
Publication Date: 2002
In this groundbreaking documentary from the Independent Film channel, filmmaker Isaac Julien takes us back to the early 70s and the explosion of blaxploitation films, today one of American cinema's most beloved cult genres. The original guilty pleasure, these fun and energetic films had all the action, comedy, sex and groovy music you could want in two hours worth of entertainment.

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Black Hollywood (DVD)
Publication Date: 2008
Shot entirely on location in Hollywood in 1984, this feature documentary explores the role of black actors, black directors and the black audience in American movies.


Books about African American Film & Directors

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Black City Cinema - Paula J. Massood
ISBN: 159213002X
Publication Date: 2002-02-01
In Black City Cinema, Paula Massood shows how popular films reflected the massive social changes that resulted from the Great Migration of African Americans from the rural South to cities in the North, West, and Mid-West during the first three decades of the twentieth century. By the onset of the Depression, the Black population had become primarily urban, transforming individual lives as well as urban experience and culture.Massood probes into the relationship of place and time, showing how urban settings became an intrinsic element of African American film as Black people became more firmly rooted in urban spaces and more visible as historical and political subjects.

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Black Directors in Hollywood - Melvin Donalson
ISBN: 0292701799
Publication Date: 2003-12-01
Hollywood film directors are some of the world's most powerful storytellers, shaping the fantasies and aspirations of people around the globe. Since the 1960s, African Americans have increasingly joined their ranks, bringing fresh insights to movie characterizations, plots, and themes and depicting areas of African American culture that were previously absent from mainstream films. Today, black directors are making films in all popular genres, while inventing new ones to speak directly from and to the black experience.

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Black Lenses, Black Voices - Mark A. Reid
ISBN: 0742526429
Publication Date: 2005-03-17
Black Lenses, Black Voices is a provocative look at films directed and written and sometimes produced by African Americans, as well as black-oriented films whose directors or screenwriters are not black. Mark Reid shows how certain films dramatize the contemporary African American community as a politically and economically diverse group, vastly different from film representations of the 1960s.

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Historical Dictionary of African American Cinema - S. Torriano Berry; Venise T. Berry
ISBN: 9780810855458
Publication Date: 2007-01-26
The Historical Dictionary of African American Cinema includes hundreds of films, everything from The Birth of a Nation to Crash. In addition to the films, brief biographies of African American actors and actresses such as Sidney Poitier, James Earl Jones, Halle Berry, Eddie Murphy, Whoopi Goldberg, Denzel Washington, and Jamie Foxx are also detailed.

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Literary Adaptations in Black American Cinema - Barbara Tepa Lupack
ISBN: 9781580463720
Publication Date: 2010-10-01
The cinematic representation of blacks, especially in silent and early film, was shaped not only by the sentimental racism of the culture but also by the popular literature that distorted black experience and restricted black characters to minor, stereotyped roles. By contrast, in the works of black writers from Oscar Micheaux to Toni Morrison, the black experience has been more fully, more accurately, and usually more sympathetically realized; and from the early days of film, select filmmakers have looked to that literature as the basis for their productions.

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Reflections on Blaxploitation - David Walker; Andrew J. Rausch; Christopher Watson
ISBN: 9780810867062
Publication Date: 2009-03-30
In the early 1970s, a new breed of film emerged that would completely change the way black people were presented in movies. With their afros picked to spherical perfection and their guns blazing, big bad soul brothers and super sexy sisters lit up movie theaters across the country. Never before had black men and women appeared on screen in quite this way. In time, these films would be called "blaxploitation." And while it has long been debated exactly which film launched the blaxploitation era, the financial success of Melvin Van Peebles's Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song and Gordon Parks's Shaft helped open the flood gates for the more than 200 films that are now considered blaxploitation.

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Screens Fade to Black: Contemporary African American Cinema - David J. Leonard
ISBN: 0275983617
Publication Date: 2006-06-01
The triple crown of Oscars awarded to Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, and Sidney Poitier on a single evening in 2002 seemed to mark a turning point for African Americans in cinema. Certainly it was hyped as such by the media, eager to overlook the nuances of this sudden embrace. In this new study, author David Leonard uses this event as a jumping-off point from which to discuss the current state of African-American cinema and the various genres that currently compose it.

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Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks - Donald Bogle
ISBN: 082641267X
Publication Date: 2001-10-24
Completely updated to include the entire twentieth century, this new fourth edition covers all the latest directors, stars, and films including Summer of Sam, Jackie Brown, The Best Man, and The Hurricane. From The Birth of a Nation--the groundbreaking work of independent filmmaker Oscar Micheaux--and Gone with the Wind to the latest work by Spike Lee, John Singleton, Denzel Washington, Halle Berry and Will Smith, Donald Bogle reveals the ways in which the depiction of blacks in American movies has changed--and the shocking ways in which it has remained the same.

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Why We Make Movies: Black Filmmakers Talk about the Magic of Cinema - George Alexander
ISBN: 0767911814
Publication Date: 2003-02-18
A sparkling collection of interviews with African American directors and producers. Bringing together more than thirty candid conversations with filmmakers and producers such as Spike Lee, Gordon Parks, Julie Dash, Charles Burnett, and Robert Townsend,Why We Make Moviesdelivers a cultural celebration with the tips of a film-school master class. With journalist George Alexander, these revolutionary men and women discuss not only how they got their big breaks, but more importantly, they explore the creative process and what making movies means to them.

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