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Off-Campus Streaming Guide

Use this guide to find streaming alternatives to Media Services DVDs.

Black Directors

Titles Available as of April 2021

This is a selective list of streaming video holdings in the American University Library. Streaming guides are created by doing multiple keyword searches in the library catalog to capture as many titles on a topic as possible. For complete up-to-date streaming holdings, please refer to our streaming catalog.

Antwone Fisher

Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington's directorial debut involves the touching story of a sailor (Derek Luke) who, prone to violent outbursts, is sent to a naval psychiatrist (Washington) for help. Refusing at first to open up, the young man eventually breaks down and reveals a horrific childhood. Through the guidance of his doctor, he confronts his painful past and begins a quest to find the family he never knew.

BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez

BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez offers unprecedented access to the life, work and mesmerizing performances of renowned poet and activist Sonia Sanchez who describes herself as "a woman with razor blades between my teeth." A leading figure in the Black Arts Movement and inspiration to today's hip hop spoken word artists, Sanchez for over 60 years has helped to redefine American culture and politics as an activist in the Black, women's and peace movements... Maya Angelou called Sanchez "a lion in literature's forest" while spoken word artist Bryonn Bain credits her with paving the way for his generation, "She not only opened the door, she blew off the roof." Sanchez revolutionized poetry by incorporating street language, a unique performance style and collaborations with jazz musicians.

Belle

BELLE is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Captain. Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson), Belle's lineage affords her certain privileges, yet the color of her skin prevents her from fully participating in the traditions of her social standing. Left to wonder if she will ever find love, Belle falls for an idealistic young vicar's son bent on change who, with her help, shapes Lord Mansfield's role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in England.

Black Girl

A Senegalese woman is eager to find a better life abroad. She takes a job as a governess for a French family, but finds her duties reduced to those of a maid after the family moves from Dakar to the south of France. In her new country, the woman is constantly made aware of her race and mistreated by her employers. Her hope for better times turns to disillusionment and she falls into isolation and despair. The harsh treatment leads her to consider suicide the only way out. 

Black Hollywood: Blaxploitation and Advancing an Independent Black Cinema

This 1984 feature documentary explores the role of black actors, black directors, and the black audience in American movies. Lorenzo Tucker, known as the Black Valentino, discusses his career with Oscar Micheaux. Joel Fluellen and Vincent Tubbs tell memorable stories of what life was like for the few blacks working in Hollywood in the 50s and 60s including Dorothy Dandridge. Also included are interviews with Diahnne Abbott, Rosalind Cash, and Alfre Woodard, who talk about negative stereotyping. Jim Brown, Vonetta McGee, and D'Urville Martin come up with alternative solutions to the one-way street that was "blaxploitation" and discuss new ways of advancing an independent black cinema. Included is a marvelous speech by Sidney Poitier on accepting the Black Hall of Fame "Oscar." Grandmaster Flash and his "Message" is the theme tune and the writer Oscar Williams holds the whole show together with his advice to the creative outsider. 

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution

More than 40 years after the Black Panther Party was founded the group and its leadership remains powerful and enduring images in our popular imagination. This will weave together the voices of those who lived this story—police informants journalists white supporters and detractors those who remained loyal to the party and those who left it. 

Born Into Struggle

Filmmaker Rehad Desai takes us on an intimate journey mapped out by the scars etched into his family's life from having a father who was intensely involved in politics. 

Dakan Les Films du 20éme et La Sept Cinéma

This first feature film on male homosexuality from sub-Saharan Africa is a contemporary African reinterpretation of the age-old Romeo and Juliet conflict between love and social convention. When Sori and Manga tell their parents they are in love, they respond that, "It's impossible; since time began, it's never happened. Boys don't do that." 

Do the Right Thing

Traces the course of a single day on a block in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. It's the hottest day of the year, a scorching 24-hour period that will change the lives of its residents forever.

4 Little Girls

On September 15, 1963, a bomb destroyed a black church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four young girls who were there for Sunday school. It was a crime that shocked the nation-and a defining moment in the history of America's civil-rights movement. Nearly 35 years later, acclaimed filmmaker Spike Lee tells the full story of the bombing, through heart-wrenching testimonials from surviving members of the victims' families, insights from Bill Cosby, Walter Cronkite, Andrew Young, Coretta Scott King and many others, and a rare and revealing interview with former Alabama Governor George Wallace. 

Half of a Yellow Sun

Olanna (Thandie Newton) and Kainene (Anika Noni Rose) are glamorous twins from a wealthy Nigerian family. Upon returning to a privileged city life in newly independent 1960s Nigeria after their expensive English education, the two women make very different choices. Olanna shocks her family by going to live with her lover, the “revolutionary professor” Odenigbo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and his devoted houseboy Ugwu (John Boyega) in the dusty university town of Nsukka; Kainene turns out to be a fiercely successful businesswoman when she takes over the family interests and surprises even herself when she falls in love with Richard (Joseph Mawle), an English writer. Preoccupied by their romantic entanglements and a betrayal between the sisters, the events of their life seem to loom larger than politics. However, they become caught up in the events of the Nigerian civil war, in which the lgbo people fought an impassioned struggle to establish Biafra as an independent republic, ending in chilling violence which shocked the entire world. A sweeping romantic drama, Half of a Yellow Sun takes the sisters and their lovers on a journey through the war which is powerful and intensely emotional. As the response of viewers around the world has shown, it is a story which can touch everyone’s heart. 

The Hate U Give

Starr Carter is constantly switching between two worlds: the poor, mostly black, neighborhood where she lives and the rich, mostly white, prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressures from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what's right. 

Hip-Hop Beyond Beats and Rhymes

A look at the conceptualization of masculinity in hip-hop culture. Pays tribute to hip-hop while challenging the rap music industry to take responsibility for too often perpetuating destructive, deeply conservative styles of manhood that glamorize sexism, violence, and homophobia. Includes interviews with prominent rappers, music industry executives, and social critics. 

Homegoings

Through the eyes of funeral director Isaiah Owens, the beauty and grace of African-American funerals are brought to life. Filmed at the Owens Funeral Home in Harlem and the rural South, Homegoings takes an up-close look at the rarely seen world of undertaking in the black community. It reveals the special status of undertakers; borne out of their permanence, their economic stability, and the necessities of the segregation period. Combining cinéma vérité with intimate interviews and archival photographs, the film paints a portrait of the dearly departed, their grieving families, and a man who sends loved ones "home. 

Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror

Starting with The Birth of a Nation, this film traces the history of African Americans in horror, from roles as passive victims, to terrifying monsters, to full-fledged protagonists. Filled with clips, sometimes juxtaposed with powerful images from civil rights marches to Rodney King, to Black Lives Matter protests, the film shows how popular horror films of each era reflect changing social norms. 

I Am Not Your Negro

An Oscar-nominated documentary narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO explores the continued peril America faces from institutionalized racism. In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, Remember This House. The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends--Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time of Baldwin's death in 1987, he left behind only thirty completed pages of his manuscript. Now, in his incendiary new documentary, master filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished. The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin's original words and flood of rich archival material. I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO is a journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter. It is a film that questions black representation in Hollywood and beyond. And, ultimately, by confronting the deeper connections between the lives and assassination of these three leaders, Baldwin and Peck have produced a work that challenges the very definition of what America stands for. 

I Am Somebody

Live film coverage of a successful hospital workers' strike in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1969. Shows the crucial help of Rev. Ralph Abernathy and Coretta Scott King in organizing demonstrations in support of the workers, mostly black women. Includes interviews with city officials and strikers. 

Illusions

t's 1942, one year after Pearl Harbor; the place is National Studios, a fictitious Hollywood motion picture studio. Mignon Duprée, a Black woman studio executive who appears to be white and Ester Jeeter, an African American woman who is the singing voice for a white Hollywood star are forced to come to grips with a society that perpetuates false images as status quo.. This highly-acclaimed drama by one of the leading African American women directors follows Mignon's dilemma, Ester's struggle and the use of cinema in wartime Hollywood: three illusions in conflict with reality.. 

Killer of Sheep

Examines daily life in a poor Black community, in which relationships between friends and within families are strained due to the struggle to survive.

The Last Angel of History

John Akomfrah, director of Seven Songs of Malcolm X, returns with an engaging and searing examination of the hitherto unexplored relationships between Pan-African culture, science fiction, intergalactic travel, and rapidly progressing computer technology. This cinematic essay posits science fiction (with tropes such as alien abduction, estrangement, and genetic engineering) as a metaphor for the Pan-African experience of forced displacement, cultural alienation, and otherness. Akomfrah's analysis is rooted in an exploration of the cultural works of Pan-African artists, such as funkmaster George Clinton and his Mothership Connection , Sun Ra's use of extraterrestrial iconography, and the very explicit connection drawn between these issues in the writings of black science fiction authors Samuel R. Delaney and Octavia Butler. 

Lucidity: Visions of Truth

A young African-American woman experiences vivid day dreams of the black human rights struggle. Over the course of her day the line between reality and fantasy begin to blur. 

Lumumba

Dramatizes the life of Congolese revolutionary, Patrice Lumumba, who lead his country to independence from Belgium in 1960. He served, for less than a year, as the first elected prime minister until he was brutally assassinated. 

Moonlight

MOONLIGHT is the tender, heartbreaking story of a young man's struggle to find himself, told across three defining chapters in his life as he experiences the ecstasy, pain, and beauty of falling in love, while grappling with his own sexuality. 

The Negotiator

Set in Chicago, The Negotiator follows the story of a maverick hostage negotiator (Danny Roman Jackson), who becomes the victim of a police frame-up. Roman turns the tables on his captors by himself taking the chief of Internal Affairs and some of his staff hostage. As police and media tension escalates, Chris Sabian (Spacey), another respected hostage negotiator, is called in to mediate. Convinced of Roman's innocence, Sabian becomes Roman's ally in his quest for a way out of the powder-keg situation and search for a plan to smoke out the guilty cops who framed him.

The Secret Life of Bees

Set in South Carolina in 1964, the film is the moving tale of Lily Owens a 14 year-old girl who is haunted by the memory of her late mother. To escape her lonely life and troubled relationship with her father, Lily flees with Rosaleen, her caregiver and only friend, to a South Carolina town that holds the secret to her mother's past. Taken in by the intelligent and independent Boatwright sisters, Lily finds solace in their mesmerizing world of beekeeping, honey and the Black Madonna.

Seven Songs for Malcolm X

A collection of testimonies, eyewitness accounts, and dramatic reenactments which tell of the life, legacy, loves and losses of Malcolm X. 

Selma

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s historical struggle to secure voting rights for all people. A dangerous and terrifying campaign that culminated with an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1964. 

Soul Food Junkies

Award-winning filmmaker Byron Hurt offers a fascinating exploration of the soul food tradition, its relevance to black cultural identity, and its continuing popularity despite the known dangers of high-fat, high-calorie diets. Inspired by his father's lifelong love affair with soul food even in the face of a life-threatening health crisis, Hurt discovers that the relationship between African-Americans and dishes like ribs, grits, and fried chicken is deep-rooted and culturally based. At the same time, he moves beyond matters of culture and individual taste to show how the economics of the food industry have combined with socioeconomic conditions in predominantly black neighborhoods to dramatically limit food choices. The result is an absorbing and ultimately inspiring look at the cultural politics of food and the complex interplay between identity, taste, power, and health. Features soul food cooks, historians, doctors, and food justice movement activists who are challenging the food industry, creating sustainable gardens, and advocating for better supermarkets, more farmers' markets, and healthier takes on soul food. 

The Souls of Black Girls

Filmmaker Daphne Valerius's award-winning documentary The Souls of Black Girls explores how media images of beauty undercut the self-esteem of African-American women. Valerius surveys the dominant white, light-skinned, and thin ideals of beauty that circulate in the culture, from fashion magazines to film and music video, and talks with African-American girls and women about how these images affect the way they see themselves. The film also features powerful commentary from rapper and activist Chuck D, actresses Regina King and Jada Pinkett Smith, PBS news anchor Gwen Ifill, cultural critic Michaela Angela Davis, and others. Over the years, The Souls of Black Girls has screened at hundreds of universities and organizations around the country, and earned Valerius the Rising Female Filmmaker Award at the Harlem Int'l Film Festival. In 2015, it aired on ASPIRE TV in association with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, earning Valerius a trip to the White House as an invited guest of First Lady Michelle Obama. 

Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People

The first documentary to explore the role of photography in shaping the identity, aspirations and social emergence of African Americans from slavery to the present, Through a Lens Darkly probes the recesses of American history by discovering images that have been suppressed, forgotten and lost. Bringing to light the hidden and unknown photos shot by both professional and vernacular African American photographers, the film opens a window into lives, experiences and perspectives of black families that is absent from the traditional historical canon. These images show a much more complex and nuanced view of American culture and society and its founding ideals.

Timbuktu

Not too far from Timbuktu, now ruled by religious fundamentalists, Kidane lives peacefully in the dunes with his wife Satima, his daughter Tonya, and Issan, their shepherd. In town, the people suffer, powerless, from the regime of terror imposed by the Jihadists. Music, laughter, cigarettes, even soccer have been banned. The women have become shadows but resist with dignity. Every day, the new improvised courts issue tragic and absurd sentences. Kidane and his family had been spared the chaos that prevails in Timbuktu, but when their destiny changes abruptly, Kidane must face the new laws of the foreign occupants. 

Tongues Untied

Marlon Riggs' essay film gives voice to communities of black gay men, presenting their cultures and perspectives on the world as they confront racism, homophobia, and marginalization. The film was embraced by black gay audiences for its authentic representation of style, and culture, as well its fierce response to oppression. Tongues Untied has been lauded by critics for its vision and its bold aesthetic advances, and vilified by anti-gay forces who used it to condemn government funding of the arts. It was even denounced from the floor of Congress. 

A Tribute to Malcolm X

Discusses the influence of Malcolm X upon the present black liberation movement. Includes an interview with his widow, Betty Shabazz. 

12 Years a Slave

Based on an incredible true story of one man's fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty (personified by a malevolent slave owner, portrayed by Michael Fassbender), as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon's chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt) will forever alter his life.

Vision Portraits

VISION PORTRAITS is a deeply personal documentary by award-winning filmmaker Rodney Evans (BROTHER TO BROTHER) as he explores how his loss of vision may impact his creative future, and what it means to be a blind or visually impaired creative artist.  It's a celebration of the possibilities of art created by a Manhattan photographer (John Dugdale), a Bronx-based dancer (Kayla Hamilton), a Canadian writer (Ryan Knighton) and the filmmaker himself, who each experience varying degrees of vision loss. Using archival material alongside new illuminating interviews and observational footage of the artists at work, Evans has created a tantalizing meditation on blindness and creativity, a sensual work that opens our minds to new possibilities. 

Waiting to Exhale

"Waiting to Exhale" examines the lives and friendships of four African-American women struggling with careers, children, and divorce - each waiting for a man who will take her breath away. 

The Watermelon Woman

Cheryl Dunye's debut feature is as controversial as it is sexy and funny. Cheryl is a twenty-something black lesbian working as a clerk in a video store while struggling to make a documentary about Fae Richards, an obscure black actress from the 1930's. Cheryl is surprised to discover that Richards (known popularly as "the Watermelon Woman") had a white lesbian lover. At the same time, Cheryl falls in love with a very cute white customer at the video store (Guinevere Turner from Go Fish). Such are the complexities of race and sex in this startlingly fresh debut, which has been attacked by conservative Congressmen for having been funded by the NEA and lavishingly praised in the editorial pages for being charming and courageous. 

When the Levees Broke, Part 1

Spike Lee's portrait of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina tells the personal stories of members of a community that has survived devastation and is finding new hope and strength as the city rises from the ashes, buoyed by a rich cultural legacy. Three months after the disaster, Lee, cameraman Cliff Charles, and a small crew made the first of eight trips to New Orleans to conduct interviews and shoot footage. They selected participants from diverse backgrounds and perspectives, including Governor Kathleen Blanco; Mayor Ray Nagin; activists Al Sharpton and Harry Belafonte; CNN's Soledad O'Brien; and musicians Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard and Kanye West. Part 1 focuses on the hurricane, the initial aftermath, and how the disaster could have been prevented. 

When the Levees Broke, Part 2

Spike Lee's portrait of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina tells the personal stories of members of a community that has survived devastation and is finding new hope and strength as the city rises from the ashes, buoyed by a rich cultural legacy. Three months after the disaster, Lee, cameraman Cliff Charles, and a small crew made the first of eight trips to New Orleans to conduct interviews and shoot footage. They selected participants from diverse backgrounds and perspectives, including Governor Kathleen Blanco; Mayor Ray Nagin; activists Al Sharpton and Harry Belafonte; CNN's Soledad O'Brien; and musicians Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard and Kanye West. Part 2 focuses on the state and federal government's slow response, botched evacuation attempts, and racial and socioeconomic discrimination during the rescue effort. 

When the Levees Broke, Part 3

Spike Lee's portrait of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina tells the personal stories of members of a community that has survived devastation and is finding new hope and strength as the city rises from the ashes, buoyed by a rich cultural legacy. Three months after the disaster, Lee, cameraman Cliff Charles and a small crew made the first of eight trips to New Orleans to conduct interviews and shoot footage. Participants include Governor Kathleen Blanco; Mayor Ray Nagin; activists Al Sharpton and Harry Belafonte; CNN's Soledad O'Brien; and musicians Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard and Kanye West. Part 3 covers failed search and rescue efforts, levee failure investigations, FEMA's incompetence in providing temporary shelters, homeowner insurance battles, and the Army Corps of Engineers' attempts to repair damage before the 2006 hurricane system. 

When the Levees Broke, Part 4

Spike Lee's portrait of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina tells the personal stories of members of a community that has survived devastation and is finding new hope and strength as the city rises from the ashes. Three months after the disaster, Lee, cameraman Cliff Charles, and a small crew made the first of eight trips to New Orleans to conduct interviews and shoot footage. Participants include Governor Kathleen Blanco; Mayor Ray Nagin; activists Al Sharpton and Harry Belafonte; CNN's Soledad O'Brien; and musicians Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard and Kanye West. Part 4 looks at the challenges New Orleans evacuees face upon returning home to utter destruction, including a lack of government support, heightened crime, a failing education system, and psychological trauma. At the same time, a deep rooted cultural identity helps communities to rebuild.