Do you have your “Black Panther” tickets yet? Well, these kids do and they’re dancing in their cafeteria because they get to see it.
— Jasmine (@JasmineLWatkins) February 2, 2018
“Black Panther” is Marvel Studios’ first superhero film written, directed and starring Black people. That’s a big deal.
Before or after you see “Black Panther”—depending on your ticket situation—check out these other movies from Black filmmakers. Slate’s Black Film Canon has a comprehensive list of the 50 best Black-directed movies ever. Here are just six that stand out.
1. “Creed” (2015)
Why not start with “Black Panther” writer-director Ryan Coogler’s last movie before the big superhero bonanza he’s about to drop on us? The sequel to the “Rocky” boxing franchise injected new life into a 40-year-old story by focusing on young Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) who works his way up the boxing ranks with the help of his “uncle” and trainer, Rocky Balboa. Slate described it as an “electrifying, exciting, contemporary movie,” and I’m here to add, “What they said.”
2. “Crooklyn” (1994)
Like I hinted above, “Crooklyn” is my favorite Spike Lee movie. This is because it’s a gorgeous semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story draped in Lee’s iconic saturated colors (reds and yellows and greens, oh my) and because of how it handles family tragedy with grace and resilience.
3. “Daughters of the Dust” (1991)
The first movie directed by a Black woman to be released in the U.S., “Daughters of the Dust” is Julie Dash’s lyrical look at the Gullah-Geechee people who live on islands outside of South Carolina.
4. “Killer of Sheep” (1978)
The Slate crew put it best and I can’t say it better: “Few films have ever asked the question at the center of ‘Killer of Sheep’ with such passion and heart: What does it mean to be human in a world designed to deprive you of that humanity?”
5. “Black Girl” (1966)
Released in 1966 but relevant always, this immigrant tale about a Senegalese woman moving to Europe with the French family she works for helps us understand what it means to be an outsider in a place that isn’t always welcoming.
6. “Within Our Gates” (1920)
It’s likely that there were other films directed by Black filmmakers earlier than 1920’s “Within Our Gates,” but like so many silent films those have been lost to the tragic deterioration of film stock over the last century. Luckily we still can see director Oscar Micheaux’s view of what it was like to be Black in America during the Wilson administration—including the need to be ever vigilant of the KKK. It’s a hard movie to watch, but it’s necessary.
What else should make the list? Let us know!