Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.

Forget the idea that Black cinema primarily depicts a singular set of storylines and themes centered on shared trauma, says screenwriter Maya Cade, who spent a year cataloging more than 250 currently streaming Black films from between 1915 and 1979. Her effort to make that rich history easily accessible culminated in the launch of the Black Film Archive last week. From silent films to horror flicks to blockbuster comedies and romance, Black cinema spans ever-expanding genres and generations, now archived on her site.

In her introductory note, Cade writes that the films in the archive “have something significant to say about the Black experience; speak to Black audiences; and/or have a Black star, writer, producer, or director.” The intentionally broad criteria is an attempt to expand the ways Black films are framed. “I’ve been thinking a lot about the fact that the act of making Black film history accessible is the act of transforming collective memory,” Cade told me. “To intentionally preserve is to remember, and to remember is to reimagine what the future can hold. Here, the films can be many things, and among those things are being remembered, treasured, and seen.”

Beyond archiving, Cade is also one of the vanishingly few people to use Twitter to spread joy, bringing snippets of cultural history—and countless gems from cinema as a whole—to her followers’ feeds every day. She’ll continue updating the archive monthly and maintaining a supplemental newsletter. Explore the rich range of Black film: If you find yourself with an hour to spare, pick a movie and start streaming.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate