Movies and Harlem

by A Collier
movies and harlem

Movies and Harlem

Harlem is a place full of excitement, history, and change. Here are some of our favorite combinations of movies and Harlem.

movies and harlem

Harlem is a place full of excitement, history, and change. Here are some of our favorite combinations of movies and Harlem.

Harlem is a place full of excitement, history, and change. This neighborhood has been making waves throughout history in literature, cultural diversity, art, music, and of course – the movies. Here are some of our favorite combinations of movies and Harlem.

Movies about Harlem

From These Roots: This is a 30-minute film made entirely of photographs from the Harlem Renaissance. In a world before digital editing and CGI, William Greaves wanted to write a love letter to Harlem while also returning to his own roots growing up in the neighborhood. Many consider this film one of the first pieces of art about the Black experience during the Harlem Renaissance that evokes more sympathy and insight than many previous publications about the period. You can rent the documentary at the link above or watch it for free on YouTube.

Hoodlum: This film, starring Laurence Fishburn, Tim Roth, Vanessa Williams, and Cecily Tyson (who we talked about in our article “7 Black Entertainers Who Made History”), is a loose retelling war between Black and white gangsters in the 1930s. For a more historically accurate film about Bumpy Johnson, one of the movie’s lead characters who really lived in Harlem, check out The Bumpy Johnson Chapters.

Movies about People from Harlem

Maya Angelou And I Still Rise: Poet, autobiographer, activist – Maya Angelou was all this and more. Angelou was part of the Harlem Writers Guild and her first book became an international bestseller that inspired people of all races and cultures, but especially Black men and women who were looking for community and solidarity. This 2017 film is the only documentary about her life. You can watch the full film here.

Malcolm X: One of the most famous Black activists in American History, this 1992 film was directed by Spike Lee and starred Denzel Washington as the titular character. The movie tells the story of Malcolm’s life from young gangster to minister for the Nation of Islam, and -ultimately – his assassination. It has been called “one of the best biopics ever made” and the message within it is still powerful and relevant today.

Movies Set in Harlem

There are hundreds of movies set in Harlem, and even more with pieces shot in some of the most recognizable Harlem landmarks and businesses, but here are a few that we are most excited about.

Shaft (1971): With themes of the Black Power movement, race, masculinity, and sexuality, Shaft is a film about a cool Black private eye hired by a crime lord to find his kidnapped daughter. The titular character is played by Richard Roundtree, who sat down with HarlemAmerica CEO and founder G. Keith Alexander for a great discussion on the “What’s Hot! HarlemAmerica with G. Keith Alexander” podcast.

Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised): This documentary is a new addition to the long list of movies set in Harlem and has been dubbed “part music film, part historical record created around an epic event that celebrated Black history, culture and fashion.” It’s the story surrounding the Harlem Cultural Festival, a 6-week event that took place in 1969 with some of the biggest Black artists of the time, that almost no one has heard of. The full documentary is on Hulu and you can check out the cool trailer here.  

HarlemAmerica Digital Network Continues Harlem Traditions of Amplifying Black Voices

Harlem is home to stories that have been created, borrowed, stolen, inspired, and celebrated by and from our community. And as we’ve seen many times before, Harlem isn’t finished making history for Black actors, DJs, musicians, and entrepreneurs who are hustling and working to make a name for themselves. That’s why HarlemAmerica Digital Network is here – to amplify the voices of Black professionals because no one can tell our stories and share our years of wisdom better than we can.

We are looking for Black small business owners, entrepreneurs, and Harlem businessmen who are looking to establish fame, fortune, and followers. Check out our website to learn more about our small business membership packages.

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