In 1972, Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte sat down for an interview with Ellis Haizlip, the host of the TV variety series Soul! They were there to promote their new film, Buck and the Preacher, a western depicting Black cowboy heroes and countering decades of Hollywood’s whitewashed version of history. It was their first feature collaboration, after years of being close friends and fellow activists in the civil rights movement, and it marked Poitier’s directorial debut. Haizlip asked them an age-old question that comes with the territory of having achieved a certain level of fame and/or monetary success, especially if you’re Black: Did they find it difficult relating to those who knew them before the stardom, awards, and cultural influence?
It was a challenge at times, Poitier admitted, largely because structural barriers permitted only a few Black people to attain their level of success. Belafonte added: “We have used our power, we have used our craft, in order to set platforms for other artists to be able to project themselves, other Black artists. So that despite the inequities, despite the contradictions, within this society, it has not deterred us from a Black consciousness.”
In other words: Sidney and I have come a long way, but we have not forgotten where we come from.
Moonage Daydream: “Who Is He? What Is He?”
Brett Morgen’s portrait of David Bowie is a free-associative hybrid of pop history and imaginative extravaganza—impressionistic, eclectically allusive, and, above all, immersive.
La Bamba: American Dreaming, Chicano Style
In this vibrant, music-filled portrait of an artist and his community, director Luis Valdez gathers what little is known about rock-and-roll idol Ritchie Valens and fuses it with a lived-in understanding of what it is to be Chicano.
The Trial: Crime of the Century
In the film he once called his best, Orson Welles found a cinematic language equal to Franz Kafka’s distinctive effects, creating a vertiginous experience that accentuates the writer’s subterranean perversity.
Drylongso: A Refuge of Their Own
Cauleen Smith’s debut feature celebrates the bond between two young Black women and the ways that they imaginatively, collaboratively choreograph their lives in the face of their common vulnerabilities.
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