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Film Recommendations – June 2020

Scrolling through Netflix, Prime, and Hulu can be an endless rabbit hole. This month, we’ve chosen to spotlight films that both challenge our own entrenched ways of thinking, as a people and society, and celebrate Black artists, heritage, and culture in honor of Juneteenth.

As Is by Nick Cave

Not Rated | 1h 10min

This 2015 behind the scenes documentary follows fabric sculptor, dancer, and performance artist Nick Cave as he travels to Shreveport, Louisiana to begin an eight-month art project leading up to a one-time multimedia performance featuring hundreds of local artists, musicians, soundsuit dancers, and members of the community.

Where to Watch

Stream: Amazon | Rent: Amazon

MMFA Collection Connections

Yvonne Wells, Nora EzellCharlie Lucas, Lisa Hoke, Elayne Goodman, and Mary Proctor

Black Panther

PG-13 | 2h 14min | 97% Rotten Tomatoes

In this 2018 Marvel Cinematic Universe installment, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), heir to the hidden but advanced kingdom of Wakanda, who must take his place as King. However, when an old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s character as King and Black Panther is tested when he is drawn into a conflict that puts the entire fate of Wakanda and the world at risk. This is quite possibly the best Marvel film for so many reasons. From an art perspective, the soundtrack and imagery in Black Panther relies heavily on cultural traditions African countries and ethnic groups from across the continent.

Where to Watch

Stream: Disney+, Hulu | Rent: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

MMFA Collection Connections

African Collection, Dan Peoples, Yoruba Peoples, and Bassa Peoples

Additional Reading

Becoming Black Panther: 12 African Art Inspirations for Blockbuster Movie

The Hate U Give

Rated PG-13 | 2hr 13min | 97% Rotten Tomatoes

Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) is constantly switching between two worlds—the poor, mostly black neighborhood where she lives and the wealthy, mostly white prep school that she attends. The uneasy balance is shattered when she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend at the hands of a police officer. Facing pressure from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and decide to stand up for what’s right.

Where to Watch

Stream: Hulu | Rent: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

MMFA Collection Connections

Anne Goldthwaite, Roland L. Freeman, and John Lapsley

Just Mercy

Rated PG-13 | 2hr 17min | 83% Rotten Tomatoes

Based on his memoir, this film follows recent Harvard graduate Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) as he heads to Alabama. The film tells the story of one of his first cases, Walter McMillian (Jaime Fox), a man sentenced to die in 1987 for the murder of an 18-year-old girl, despite evidence proving his innocence. After years of racism, legal and political maneuvering, Stevenson fights for McMillian’s life to appeal his conviction.

Where to Watch

Rent: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

MMFA Collection Connections

Yvonne Wells and Anne Goldthwaite

Additional Reading

 Discussion Topics from EJI

Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace

Rated PG | 53min

Known for his vibrant, larger-than-life reinterpretations of classical portraits featuring young African American men, Wiley steps out of his comfort zone to create a new project: a series of classical portraits of African-American women. The film, Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace, documents the project as it unfolds, tracking Wiley’s process from concept to canvas, coming to know the women whom he selects to paint, and enlisting Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy to create couture gowns for each woman.

Where to Watch

Stream: Amazon | Rent: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube

MMFA Collection Connections

Elizabeth Catlett, Chester Higgins, and Hale Woodruff


Rated PG-13 | 2hr 7min | 99% Rotten Tomatoes

Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally desegregated the South, discrimination remained rampant in certain areas, making it very difficult for black Americans to register to vote. In 1965, the Alabama city of Selma became the battleground in the fight for suffrage. Despite violent opposition, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) and his followers pressed forward on an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, and their efforts culminated in President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Where to Watch

Stream: FX Now | Rent: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

MMFA Collection Connections

Yousuf Karsh, Charles Shannon, and Walker Evans