There are many great films we can watch to help educate ourselves about our country’s painful and shameful racial history and the urgency of the Black Lives Matter movement. Here is one place to start. Here is another. And below are some additional selections from the CFI Education staff of powerful Black voices and Black stories that have resonated with us.

Grades 8-12
Starr (Amandla Stenberg) is the queen of code switching: living one version of herself in her black community and another at her predominantly white private high school. When she becomes the sole witness to the shooting death of her friend by a white policeman, the two Starrs have no choice but to collide—often explosively. Director: George Tillman Jr. (US  2018) 133 min


Selected by Education Program Manager Melanie Nichols:
“I selected this film because it is raw, emotional and speaks the truth about a normal black family and the struggles and indignities it must endure. I’m embarrassed and angry that black families (and other families of color) need to have “the talk” with their children in order to try and keep them safe in America. I need to learn more about the experiences of people of color, and to listen more, and this film is a great resource for that self-education.”

Things to think, do, and talk about after watching the film:

  • Watch the conversation with Amandla Stenberg and the filmmakers of The Hate U Give following the CFI Education school screening at the 2018 Mill Valley Film Festival.
  • Is it challenging to be your authentic self at home? at school? In the world?
  • Are you afraid of the police? Do you feel that you will be treated fairly if you have an interaction with the police? Why or why not?
  • Do you understand why Black communities don’t feel the police are there to protect and serve them?

Grades 9-12
*Rated R for language, brief nudity and drug use

Jimmie Fails dreams of reclaiming the Victorian home his grandfather built in the now-gentrified Fillmore district of San Francisco. Joined on his quest by his best friend Mont, Jimmie searches for belonging in a rapidly changing city that seems to have left them behind. As he struggles to reconnect with his family and reconstruct the community he longs for, his hopes blind him to the reality of his situation. Director: Joe Talbot (US 2019) 121 min


Selected by Director of Education, Joanne Parsont:
“This film is such a refreshing take on the black experience in America – not rooted in the typical film tropes of violence and oppression, but still clearly demonstrating the pervasive and insidious nature of a system and culture that has long worked to invalidate the black community. It is especially meaningful for those of us living in the Bay Area, compelling us to more closely examine our own racially segregated zip codes.”  

Things to think, do, and talk about after watching the film:

  • Dig a little deeper into the history of gentrification in San Francisco. What did the Fillmore District community look like back in the 1950s and ‘60s? What does it look like now?
  • Listen to the NPR interview with writer/director Joe Talbot and writer/actor Jimmy Fails. What is the impact on urban culture when minority communities are priced out of a city like San Francisco? 
  • Have you experienced changes in your own town or community that have changed the way you feel about it, or made you feel less welcome?

Grades 9-12
Sincerely, The Black Kids is a documentary about the institutional challenges black student government leaders face in primarily white institutions. Across the country, universities are becoming battlegrounds for racial politics and agendas. For every loud proponent of “agreeing to disagree,” there’s a group of black students who don’t enjoy the privilege of choosing to be moderate. Follow the stories of black student leaders from American University, Cornell University, Clemson and New College of Florida and witness the triumphs and tribulations that prove sometimes it IS because you’re black. Director: Miles Iton (US 2018) 35 min

Password: nebodiedent

Selected by Education Outreach Manager Shakira Refos:
“I selected this film because I produced it. It’s timely and important for people to understand how deeply white supremacy permeates all aspects of our society. When the director, Miles Iton, approached me about his idea for this project (a documentary version of Justin Simien’s Dear, White People), I was immediately on board even though I had never produced a documentary before and had no idea what I was doing. I just knew there was a story that badly needed to be told. Check out this Into article to find out more about our drive to make this film.”

Things to think, do, and talk about after watching the film:

  • How do events that happen regularly at primarily white universities lead to the violence demonstrated by police against Black lives? Can you recognize how micro-aggressions are connected to anti-Black violence?
  • Do you discuss anti-Black racism with your family or your friends? If so, what spurs these conversations? If not, why not?