In honor of Black History Month, we’re shining a spotlight on Black actors and producers who got their start making independent films rich in our culture and history. From Ryan Coogler to Jurnee Smollett, we’re showcasing a collection of Black Cinema available on the Black Experience on the Xfinity platform. Featuring Black independent films bursting with talented Black filmmakers, actors, screenwriters, and producers—you can many of your favorites by simply saying “Black Experience” or “Black Independent Films” into your Xfinity voice remote.
Check out our top picks right here, then browse all the incredible film picks on the Black Experience on Xfinity.
Set in 1962 Louisiana, this ground-breaking film centers around the youngest member of the Batiste family, Eve. What did she see? And how will it haunt her? Husband, father, and womanizer Louis Batiste, played by a young Samuel L. Jackson, may be the head of this affluent family, but you’ll discover that it’s the women who rule this world of secrets, lies, and mystic forces. And did you know that Jurnee Smollett and Meagan Good got their big breaks on the indie circuit? Jurnee even won a Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards for “Best Child Performance”, with the film and its cast being nominated for over 15 awards. It’s pivotal films like this one that helped launch their careers, so see where it all began for these stars when you watch!
If Beale Street Could Talk
The perfect pick for a Valentine’s Day flick, director Barry Jenkins was quoted as saying this film is all about Black love, life, and community, but that it’s also rooted in reality. From joyous highs to the very real lows of being Black in American, this story is centered around African-American teen sweethearts Fonny and Tish. When Fonny is wrongly arrested for the assault of a Puerto Rican woman because of the machinations of a corrupt cop, they are ripped away from one another leaving a pregnant Tish to rely on her Harlem community while seeking justice for Fonny. This was Kiki Layne’s first film before she went on to do more mainstream movies like Coming 2 America. She joined on the screen in this film by Stephan James and the incredible Regina King.
The story of a young African-American man who grapples with his identity and sexuality while experiencing the everyday struggles through pivotal moments in his life: childhood, adolescence, and, burgeoning adulthood. This beautiful, heart-wrenching film, written and directed by Barry Jenkins, features a stellar cast, including Naomie Harris, Trevante Rhodes, and Oscar winner, Mahershala Ali. The film was nominated for nearly 300 awards, winning an outstanding 228. This includes 3 Oscars and 4 NAACP Image awards!
Daughters of the Dust
This 1991 indie film was written, directed and produced by Julie Dash and was the first feature film directed by an African-American woman distributed theatrically in the United States. Set in 1902, this movie takes a languid look at the Gullah culture as it was on sea islands off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia. Rooted in Black femininity, this beautiful, historical drama showcases the African folk-ways and Gullah rituals that were maintained well into the 20th Century—it is a true must-see.
This is the true story of Oscar Grant, who was fatally shot while lying face down on a train platform at Fruitvale BART Station on New Year’s Day 2009. His death was captured on cell phone video, which went viral and sparked protests calling for officers to be brought to justice. Written and directed by Ryan Coogler, the film takes you through his last day, December 31, 2008, and his journey to be a better partner, father, son, and friend. This powerful and heartbreaking film is host to a star-studded cast, Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, and Octavia Spencer, who all give performances you will not forget. Their work awarded them 57 award nominations, winning 36 including an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Independent Motion Picture.
These are just a few of the many movies featured in Xfinity’s curated collection of Black Films. From Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It to the comedic Hollywood Shuffle to Dope starring Shameik Moore, you can choose one to watch each night all month long to celebrate Black History Month. Check out the Black Experience on Xfinity collection here.