In 2005, director Hisani DuBose looked around and realized that with over one million black men incarcerated, and high homicide and death rates, the African American male just may be becoming an endangered species. So, she set out explore whether or not black men are in danger of becoming extinct in The Vanishing Black Male. In a provocative and probing documentary, actor Melvin Jackson, Jr. speaks with African American men of all walks- doctors, politicians, college students, teachers, law enforcement personnel and others–to determine the state of the black man in America. Edited by award-winner Alfred Santana, the compelling and incredibly timely exploration is interwoven with music, art and a series of monologues.
Indiepix has made is easy (and cost-efficient)to celebrate Black History Month. They have released a value-priced three film DVD box set, featuring three powerful, thought-provoking documentaries, each focusing on a different part of the African American experience. The must-see gems include The Nine Lives of Marion Barry, The Vanishing Black Male and In His Own Home.
With unprecedented access, The Nine Lives of Marion Barry, from filmmakers Dana Flor and Toby Oppenheimer, tells the continuing saga of this despised, beloved and resilient politician. It’s a potent story of race, power, sex and drugs; the tale of a complex and contradictory man who is the star of one of the most fascinating and bizarre chapters of American politics.
Many people remember Barry as the philandering drug-addled mayor, the one who famously uttered the phrase “bitch set me up” as he was arrested during an FBI sting in 1990. He’s the poster boy for corruption, a pariah who will never be forgiven for bringing shame on the nation’s capital. Yet to others, Marion Barry is a folk hero. Hailed as a civil rights champion and defender of the poor, he’s the man who transformed Washington, D.C. from a sleepy southern town into a political stronghold of Black America.
Before Michael Brown and Ferguson, Missouri, the headline-making killing of Trayvon Martin and the death of Eric Garner at the hands of New York City police officers, there was the shocking 2010 shooting of Kofi Adu Brempong, a disabled Ghanaian graduate student attacked by University of Florida campus police responding to a 911 call. And though few media outlets outside of Gainseville reported the story, the powerful, hot-button documentary featurette, In His Own Home, recounts the events of that fateful March day and their aftermath: we watch live video of the police attack on Kofi’s apartment; we hear accounts of those who marveled at the number of snipers “ready to shoot at any time” as they surrounded the apartment of a lone student, as well as from fellow students who attest to Kofi’s peaceful demeanor; and, we hear from police officers who explain how they felt threatened and had to shoot.
And, in the aftermath, we bear witness to the administration’s shortcomings and the students and community activists who demand justice. Underlining a pattern of racism and police brutality, as well as the frightening “militiarization” of campuses nationwide, In His Own Home speaks to widespread and pervasive issues in our country that will, for the time being, remain among our most controversial and disconcerting.