Founder-Editor, Africa Is a Country, and Associate Professor, International Affairs, The New School.
|The Battle of Algiers
|Do the Right Thing
|The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On
|In the Year of the Pig
|Emile De Antonio
|Come Back Africa
The Battle of Algiers
The Battle of Algiers stands alone as a masterful piece of anti-colonial filmmaking and the best in the genre of fictional documentary. It is as relevant as ever.
Borom Sarret is by the Senegalese filmmaker (and former dockworker), Ousmane Sembene, influenced by his studies in the Soviet Union. The film is only 18 minutes long, but points to some of the unfinished business and new class politics of independent Africa.
Do the Right Thing
Probably the best piece of agit-prop cinema ever made on the violence of racism in one of the US's big cities.
The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On
Filmmakers as diverse as Michael Moore and Errol Morris swear by The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On, about a Japanese Second World War veteran embarking on his own truth and reconciliation commission.
In the Year of the Pig
One of the definitive film works on the US's colonial war in Vietnam.
The story of gangster-activist, Panic, made by the black-white South African duo of Thomas Mogotlane (now late) and Oliver Schmitz. The definitive feauture on 1980s Apartheid South Africa.
Come Back Africa
After Lionel Rogosin directed "On the Bowery" in 1956, he then turned his gaze to late 1950s Herrenvolk South Africa. "Come Back Africa," shot mostly with an amateur cast and from the perspective of the black majority, won the critics award at the Venice Film Festival. It also introduced the world to the singular talent that is Miriam Makeba.
A brilliant piece of cut-and-paste, experimental documentary film. It is also partly a film about solidarity and the politics of liberation.
Of its time (the Black Lives Matter moment) and Ryan Coogler's best work.
I wanted to include a love story on my list. Mira Nair is one of the masters of the genre: It's a dead heat between two of her films: "Mississippi Masala" and "Monsoon Wedding." For me, Monsoon Wedding - beautifully shot and rich in detail - just gets the nod.
It's no accident that these ten films are mainly by filmmakers from or who focus their lenses on the Global South, particularly Africa. That said, they cover themes and world historical events that resonate far beyond those locales (and exposes Western blind spots). Finally, they are made by filmmakers whose brilliance and technical quality can stand next to the best from Euro-America.