The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and O Cinema will work with Magnolia Pictures to make “I Am Not Your Negro,” “Whose Streets?” and “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am” available to watch for free.
The effort comes in the wake of protests that are sweeping across the U.S., as tens of thousands of people have assembled in the streets to call attention to police brutality and systemic racism. They have been motivated to speak out because of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. The three films, which focus on influential Civil Rights leaders and Black thinkers such as James Baldwin and Toni Morrison, as well as issues of social injustice, could not be more topical.
Starting on June 7, the film will be available in eight cities through community partners. The cities include Akron, Ohio; Charlotte, North Carolina; Detroit, Michigan; Macon, Georgia; Miami, Florida; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; San Jose, California; and St. Paul, Minnesota. In addition to making the films available, organizations will host virtual discussions about ways to support social justice reforms and anti-racism initiatives in their communities. The films are being made possible thanks to the support of Knight Foundation, which has agreed to cover the rental fees for viewers.
“Informed, equitable, inclusive and participatory communities are as essential to a strong democracy as an informed citizenry,” said Alberto Ibarguen, president of Knight Foundation, in a statement. “The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis is a terrible affront to that ideal – and this weekend is a reminder of how tough it will be to rise to the moment. But our democracy depends on our willingness to try.”
Each title will be made available to view each Sunday for free during a 24-hour window. Magnolia, Knight Foundation, and O Cinema will send out information to their mailing lists. There will also be a landing page where people can access the films. Audiences will be asked to register in advance and receive a secure link and password to view the film. “I Am Not Your Negro” will be made available on June 7, “Whose Streets?” will be available on June 14, and “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am” will be made available on June 21. They will be followed with a community-based and led virtual conversation each Monday night.
“We believe films have the power to educate, entertain and inspire — they can change communities and can change lives,” said O Cinema co-founders Kareem Tabsch and Vivian Marthell. “As artists and arts organizations we have the responsibility to speak out against injustice and oppression. These three remarkable films speak directly to issues that have plagued our country for far too long. We hope they can spark real dialogue and a plan of action to address inequities.”
Magnolia is the indie studio behind each of the films. Knight Foundation is a national philanthropic group supporting journalism, the arts, and cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. O Cinema is a non-profit, community-based, mission-driven independent art house theater in Miami.
“I Am Not Your Negro” from filmmaker Raoul Peck examines plans for “Remember This House,” a book that Baldwin planned to write, but never completed before his death in 1987. The book was intended to look at the lives and successive assassinations of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., three Civil Rights leaders whom Baldwin counted as friends.
“Whose Streets?” documents the Ferguson uprising that followed the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by police. Filmmakers Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis examine the long-standing racial tensions and police abuses that bring residents together in protest.
Directed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am” offers a meditation on the life and works of the Nobel prize-winner and novelist behind such classics as “The Bluest Eye” and “Beloved.”