Politics

50 Essential African-American Independent Films

While there are still too few African-American voices being recognized in Hollywood, recent films like Ava DuVernay’s Selma and Spike Lee’s Da Sweet Blood of Jesus speak to a vital tradition of black independent filmmakers. Many pioneering African-American directors, like Melvin Van Peebles and Julie Dash, were trailblazers who found funding for their fiercely idiosyncratic visions. They defied expectations and proved that there was an audience for films about black characters as told by black artists. In celebration of Black History Month, Flavorwire has compiled a list of 50 essential African-American independent… Read More

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It’s On Them: The Grammys Need to Practice What They Preach About Domestic and Sexual Violence

Following last year’s mass gay marriage, the Grammys got political again during last night’s ceremony. Beyoncé, Common, and John Legend honored Selma and all that the film represents, while Prince shouted out “Black Lives Matter” from the stage. Sam Smith thanked the man who inspired all his love songs, in the process acknowledging his sexual orientation in pop’s most public arena. Most pointedly, Katy Perry, President Obama, and activist Brooke Axtell presented a three-part PSA and performance against domestic violence and sexual assault. It was a touching gesture, but with Chris Brown, R. Kelly, and Eminem all up for (and, in some cases, winning) awards last night, it also felt disingenuous coming from an Academy — and an industry — that continues to support real assailants. … Read More

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The Power of Mournful Music in Tragic Times, From Jason Molina on 9/11 to Nina Simone on MLK

On 9/11, the late, great Jason Molina was supposed to be recording with Will Oldham and Alasdair Roberts at Oldham’s brother Paul’s Kentucky farmhouse. Instead, they spent all day watching the news, distraught, terrified, and lost. By night they put to tape some reckoning with what they had just seen. This song, posted online last week by Molina’s label Secretly Canadian with a brief introduction from Roberts, is titled simply: “September 11, 2001.” It is in many ways absolutely remarkable. Though oblique, Molina’s images cannot belong to any other moment. He describes the “pre-world dark,” conjures ash on “a weeping wind,” asks, repeatedly, about the “blue gospel flames.” At various points he exhorts the other players to “cast your offering,” Roberts scraping a bow against dulcimer strings, Oldham stumbling over piano chords. Even now it is frequently a painful listen. … Read More

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Essential Cuban Films You Should Know

This week, President Obama’s lift of the 54-year-long American trade embargo against Cuba — which would ease restrictions on travel and financial activities, normalizing relations with the country — was announced. But different generations of Cubans are processing different feelings about the historic move. The economic crisis in Cuba that resulted from the embargo, and the country’s war-torn history, has been the subject of many films. Throughout the history of Cuban cinema, filmmakers have explored sociopolitical issues and the country’s shifting identity. Here are a few films to put on your radar before exploring Cuban cinema for the first time. … Read More

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25 Great Books You Might Have Missed in 2014

The end of the year is approaching and you’re looking for a little extra present: a stocking stuffer? A Secret Santa gift? Or perhaps you just want to read off the beaten track? Regardless of your reason for book-consumption, here is a roundup some of our personal favorites, some titles that you might not find on the big end-of-year lists but which we think you should absolutely check out anyway — whether they’re from indie presses, or they cover taboo topics, or they’re a cookbook in a novel-saturated… Read More

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35 Susan Sontag Quotes on Art, Writing, and Life

Susan Sontag’s prose style captivated readers, and her assertive critical stance never failed to invite controversy. This month marks the tenth anniversary of the author’s passing, and the documentary Regarding Susan Sontag airs on HBO tonight. In honor of both occasions, we revisited her journals and books to find some of Sontag’s most thought-provoking quotes on everything from relationships and art to war and pop… Read More

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Progressive, Tea Party, or Anarchist: Whose Side Is Katniss Really On?

Since I began turning its pages, I assumed The Hunger Games was a rallying cry for like-minded progressives and radicals. This was thanks to its pretty upfront indictment of state-inflicted violence and, in particular, of hunger caused by gross economic inequality. Occupy Panem! I thought. Redistribute the wealth! … Read More

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