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Black Joy on Screen

By Skokie Staff Adult Services

In a Vogue article stressing the importance of Black joy, Chante Joseph says, "Where society has told Black people to 'be quiet' or that we’re 'too loud,' reveling in joy is an act of resistance. As our feeds become even more inundated with images of trauma, joy can help us heal, too." Here are some of our favorite depictions of Black joy on screen.

  • Summer of Soul (DVD)

    2022

    Absolutely one of the best documentaries of the year, it examines the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival that ran for six weekends, with legendary musical artists and huge attendance. From the 40+ hours of footage shot, first-time director Questlove does an awesome job selecting performances, conducting interviews, and using archival TV footage and headlines. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Respect

    2021

    This long-awaited biographical drama stars Jennifer Hudson as the amazing Aretha Franklin. She gives a knock-out performance, and it’s easy to see the love Hudson has for her subject. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • One Night in Miami

    2021

    Celebrate Regina King for her directorial debut! Working with an excellent screenplay by Kemp Powers, King gives a fictionalized glimpse into the complicated friendship between four luminaries of the Civil Rights era. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Zola

    2021

    Based on a 148-tweet tweetstorm that went viral in 2015, this film is creative, bold, risky, coded, cutting, and unlike anything I’ve ever seen. With her tweets, Aziah “Zola” King brilliantly described her road-trip odyssey weekend gone sideways, and filmmaker Janicza Bravo brought it to the screen. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Small Axe: Collection of 5 Films from Steve McQueen

    2020

    Exquisite cinematic storytelling from writer/director Steve McQueen about London's West Indian community. This collection of five loosely connected films tells a powerful narrative that is as specific as it is wide reaching. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Time

    2022

    Filmmaker Garrett Bradley ingeniously combines original film and home video to tell the compelling story of Sibil Fox Richardson, who spent two decades fighting to get her husband paroled from prison. It all leads to an unforgettable last scene that hits you in the heart. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • King Richard (DVD)

    2022

    Will Smith takes things front and center in this sports biopic from a different perspective, portraying the father of tennis trailblazers Serena and Venus Williams. The entire cast is terrific, and it’s easy to feel inspired. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel

    2020

    Music matters most for this film about the renowned Clark Sisters, and the actors do their own glorious singing. Plus we have Aunjanue Ellis as their mother Mattie Moss Clark, a woman singularly focused on her vision for her daughters, playing the role flawlessly. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Soul Food

    2000

    One of my favorite feel-good films, directed by George Tillman Jr. The relationships shown, the love felt, and the heart exuded all contribute to an excellent movie about life and living. Rotten Tomatoes says, "Much like the titular cuisine, Soul Food blends a series of savory ingredients to offer warm, generous helpings of nourishment and comfort." Recommended by Cecilia.

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  • Miss Juneteenth

    2020

    I can’t stop thinking about this touching feel-good mother-daughter story that is authentic and full of love. Nicole Beharie stars and she is fantastic. Kudos to writer/director Channing Godfrey Peoples. On a tiny budget, she delivers an outstanding first film. This is one of my favorites of 2020. Also available through Kanopy. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • The Weekend

    2019

    This is a delightful rom-com diversion. Indie filmmaker Stella Meghie wrote a funny, observant script and got perfect comedic delivery from her actors. I don't know where she filmed, but the weekend B&B getaway and its surrounding grounds made for some enjoyable armchair travel. Recommended by Sharon.

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