Writer Rebecca Carroll Shares 7 Films to Help You Remember We Still Need Change in America

Photo: Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing

Writer Rebecca Carroll is the Director of Digital Media and Marketing at Scenarios USA and a regular opinion writer for The Guardian. She is the author of several nonfiction books, including Saving the Race and Sugar in the Raw. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Ebony, GOOD, The Daily Beast, Jezebel, and the Guardian. Follow her: @rebel19

From Spike Lee and Gina Prince-Bythewood to Sidney Lumet and Lisa Cholodenko, Rebecca Carroll shares seven incredible films that demonstrate why we still need change in America.

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Sidney Lumet’s DOG DAY AFTERNOON (1975)

A true love story ahead of its time based on the life of bisexual LGBT rights activist John Wojtowicz, immortalized in a brilliant performance by Al Pacino, whose motivation for robbing a bank was to pay for his wife, a preoperative trans woman, to get her reassignment surgery. Directed by the late and extraordinary Sidney Lumet.

Available to watch on iTunes and Amazon

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Spike Lee’s DO THE RIGHT THING (1989)

There was never before and has never been since a film that captures the simultaneously nuanced and immediate reality of racism in America than Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. Relentlessly poignant.

Available to watch on iTunes and Amazon

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John Sayles’ PASSION FISH (1992)

John Sayles’s beautiful portrait of two women (Alfre Woodard and Mary McDonnell) with strong wills and searing intellects, who struggle with race, class and deeply personal issues before they can ultimately lay bare their own individual vulnerability.

Available to watch on Netflix Instant

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Robert Mulligan’s TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962)

Because this film reminds us in the most gut-wrenching, thoughtful, and quiet way what human dignity looks like in the face of murderous racial inequality.

Available to watch on iTunes and Amazon

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Lisa Cholodenko’s THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT (2010)

Because as Jules (Julianne Moore) tells her wife Nic (Annette Bening) “marriage is fucking hard” — funny, smart, spot-on family drama about love, marriage, parenting, adoption and birth reunions. Directed by Lisa Cholodenko.

Available to watch on Netflix Instant, iTunes, and Amazon

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Gina Prince-Bythewood’s BEYOND THE LIGHTS (2014)

Gina Prince-Bythewood’s gorgeous all-that-glitters-is-not-gold love story that offers a pointed commentary on race, consumerism and unbridled ambition in America through the lens of hip-hop culture — in turns the most beloved, misunderstood, exploitative and creatively original movements in this country.

Available to watch on Netflix Instant, iTunes, and Amazon

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Chris Eyre’s SMOKE SIGNALS 

Based on Sherman Alexie’s exceptional novel The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, and starring Evan Adams and Chris Eyre, Smoke Signals is basically a road trip movie — but so much more than that. It is a vivid and sinewy narrative that both challenges and pokes fun at Native American stereotypes, while offering a humorous and pointed insight into life on an Indian reservation.

Available to watch on iTunes

 

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