In order to help educate more viewers about the Black experience in America, the Criterion Channel, an independent streaming service known for its exclusive contemporary and classical films, has made a number of titles pertaining to Black history free to stream.
This promotion allows non-subscribers the opportunity to watch a selection of historic, seminal content without paying the $10.99 monthly subscription fee. Titles include: Cheryl Dunye's The Watermelon Woman, Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust, Maya Angelou’s Down in the Delta, Shirley Clarke’s Portrait of Jason, Agnès Varda’s Black Panthers, Kathleen Collins’ Losing Ground, and many more. These now free-to-stream films, many of which were produced by Black filmmakers, are currently listed on the Criterion Channel’s homepage (the ones that do not have a lock icon in the lower right hand corner are the free ones).
On the Criterion Channel, we're highlighting films that focus on Black Lives, and have taken down the paywall on as many of these titles as we can, so even if you aren’t a subscriber you can watch them for free. Head to criterionchannel.com/browse to see all of the films streaming now. Included here: THE WATERMELON WOMAN (1996) MY BROTHER'S WEDDING (1983) BLACK MOTHER (2018) PORTRAIT OF JASON (1967) SYMBIOPSYCHOTAXIPLASM TAKE ONE (1968) LOSING GROUND (1982) BLACK PANTHERS (1970) DOWN IN THE DELTA (1998) CANE RIVER (1982) DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST (1991) BODY AND SOUL (1925)
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Criterion Channel also released a statement last week on Instagram detailing its response to recent events. "Today we are establishing an employee-guided fund with a $25,000 initial contribution and an ongoing $5,000 monthly commitment to support organizations fighting racism in America, including bail funds, community organizations, legal defense funds, and advocacy groups that address police reform," the statement reads. In addition, the Criterion Channel writes that it will be mandating a training program for its staff to help discuss these important topics.
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These titles are definitely worth checking out—especially since many of them are exclusive to the platform and cannot be found anywhere else. Looking for more educational films about the Black experience? HBO has also made some of its civil rights programming free to watch for non-subscribers, and you can also check out this masterlist of must-watch Black History programs.
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