Juneteenth: Celebrating Black Filmmakers

Featured Image by Wynn Pointaux from Pixabay

It is Juneteenth! If you don’t know what that is or why, click here (because that website does a much better job of explaining a history I have no right to explain). I’m a whitey mcwhiterson, and I do not spend enough time highlighting Black figures on the seventy million platforms I have. And because I am an aspiring filmmaker, I’d like to talk about three of my favorite Black filmmakers. Please spend some time educating yourself today!

Kemp Powers

A recent gem who’s come out of some BIG projects, Powers was behind the masterpieces Soul (2020) and and One Night in Miami… (2020) as well as Star Trek: Discovery (2017). Wow! The utter creativity of this man’s mind just repeatedly blows me away, and seeing him at the Academy Awards brought me so much joy. If you haven’t seen his films yet, please do indulge.

At different points in our lives and careers, we’ve all been … ‘lost souls,’ based on our definition of it. Because when you find something you enjoy and you’re passionate about and you actually are pretty good at it, it is so easy to take the extra step of hiding behind that thing and using it to not deal with so many other elements of life.

kemp powers

Ava DuVernay

I am absolutely obsessed with Ava DuVernay. She has 27 producer credits starting from 2008, as the producer for This Is The Life — a documentary about The Good Life underground hip-hop scene and the rejection of gangster rap. She’s also directed 21 works, helped write 15, and she’s got more than that under her belt!

I think that if we really want to break it down, that non-black filmmakers have had many, many years and many, many opportunities to tell many, many stories about themselves, and black filmmakers have not had as many years, as many opportunities, as many films to explore the nuances of our reality.

Ava duvernay

Chinonye Chukwu

An up-and-coming superstar, I can’t wait to see more from this artist. Clemency (2019) was absolutely gut-wrenching, with all the brilliant power you’d expect from a female-led prison film. Do watch. I think what’s so wonderful about Chukwu’s work so far is how much emotion she can squeeze out of a few seconds. And her work on the upcoming film about Emmett Till is bound to blow away our expectations.

When I started to detach from ego and embrace the unwavering belief that I am enough, I started making films for myself and embracing the craft of filmmaking again. Consequently, my work got so much better.

chinonye chukwu

Now, I kept this list short because I’d rather you deep dive into these three artists than just scroll through a list of names. I really hope you’ll take the time to interact with the work by these spectacular artists, not just because it’s Juneteenth, but because they have made great art that deserves to be seen.

That’s the issue that I’ve noticed lately. Non-Black folks enforce engaging with Black creators not out of a natural appreciation for their work, but out of a desire for activism. It shouldn’t be revolutionary to appreciate Black creators and artists. It should be automatic, and that’s the problem. That’s why Juneteenth shouldn’t just be one day — it should be every day. And yes, it should be a national holiday! But the practices people encourage on Juneteenth shouldn’t be limited to one single day in a year. June 19th isn’t the only day you should amplify Black voices.

Much love,

-el ❤

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