Studios Celebrate Black History Month4 Dec, 2008 By: Kyra Kudick
February is Black History Month, and studios are celebrating by releasing film collections honoring black performers and moments in black history.
Due Dec. 9 from First Run Features is The Early Works of Cheryl Dunye (DVD $24.95), featuring the works Greetings From Africa, The Potluck and the Passion, An Untitled Portrait, Vanilla Sex, She Don’t Fade and Janine. Dunye, the black filmmaker who has been referred to as “the lesbian Spike Lee” by Newsday, also has her first landmark film, The Watermelon Woman, available on DVD from First Run at $19.95.
Jan. 6, 2009, (prebook Dec. 10) 20th Century Fox and MGM Home Entertainment release DVDs in four categories: A History of Determination, A History of Pride, A History of Entertainment and A History of Success. The titles in the categories are available individually at $14.98 each.
A History of Determination includes the biopics AKA Cassius Clay, about legendary boxer Muhammad Ali; Chisholm ’72: Unbought and Unbossed, the story of Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm’s bid for the presidency; King (1978), the TV mini-series about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; The Jackie Robinson Story; The Antwone Fisher Story; and Woman, Thou Art Loosed, a drama based on a T.D. Jakes novel.
A History of Pride includes the dramas Drumline, Hotel Rwanda, Men of Honor, Redemption, Roll Bounce and The Great White Hope.
A History of Entertainment features Bill Cosby: Himself; Cedric the Entertainer; The Five Heartbeats, a drama about the rise and fall of a vocal group; the basketball comedy Rebound, starring Martin Lawrence; and The Bernie Mac Show: Season 1.
A History of Success has Barbershop; I, Robot; In the Heat of the Night, Man on Fire and The Salon.
Also due Jan. 6, 2009 (prebook Dec. 9) is New York Noir: The History of Black New York, from Little Dizzy Home Video (DVD $14.99). The acclaimed documentary examines the history of New York’s black culture from the early 1600s onward, covering such ground as the Harlem Renaissance.
Jan. 27. 2009, Mill Creek Entertainment releases Tupac Assassination – Part II: Reckoning, the followup to 2007’s Tupac Assassination: Conspiracy or Revenge, exploring the motives behind the murder of rapper Tupac Shakur, and including behind-the-scenes footage from Shakur’s music videos as well as outtakes and alternate footage from the videos. Mill Creek will release it as a two-DVD compilation, with the director’s cut of Conspiracy or Revenge, and the all-new documentary, at $14.98.
Warner Home Video Jan. 27, 2009, (prebook Dec. 23) honors two iconic artists when it releases Listen Up! The Lives of Quincy Jones and the Sidney Poitier Film Collection.
The Sidney Poitier Film Collection (DVD $39.92) features the films Edge of the City (1957), A Warm December (1973), Something of Value (1957) and A Patch of Blue (1965). Among his many career accomplishments, Poitier was the first black man to win an Academy Award for Best Actor.
Listen Up! The Lives of Quincy Jones (DVD $24.98) is a documentary on the life and career of the famed musician, composer and producer. The DVD includes interviews with Michael Jackson, Oprah Winfrey and Jesse Jackson. Also included are several featurettes and an offer for 50 free song downloads from eMusic.com.
Additional music icons are honored in the recent Infinity Entertainment Group double-feature Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story and Stax Volt Review: Live in Norway 1967 (DVD $24.98). Check out Billy Gil’s online blog at www.homemediamagazine.com for more information on this and other music releases.
Billy Gil contributed to this article.