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Black History Month Roundup: ‘The Tuskegee Airmen,’ ‘The Help’ and More

1 Feb, 2012 By: Ashley Ratcliff

It’s officially February, which means it’s Black History Month, a time when we reflect on the accomplishments and positive impacts that African Americans have made throughout the years.

There are a number of films currently available on DVD and Blu-ray Disc that highlight historical African Americans, including Malcolm X, Thurgood Marshall, Josephine Baker, the Tuskegee Airmen and Angela Davis, among others.

While it’s great to pay homage to the civil rights leaders and prominent figures of yesteryear, there are some wonderful things going on within the urban film genre that embody the sentiments of Black History Month.

Allen Blackwell, VP of Entertainment One’s urban film and comedy programming, had this to say: “I think where these films tie in [to Black History Month] is showing our diversity, showing our strengths and our weaknesses, and showing the evolution of us. I think that we have evolved to be very successful in many ways, and we still have two to three hundred years to make up on lost time.”

Here’s a list of some of the Black History Month-related titles that currently are out on home video or are coming soon:

■ ENTERTAINMENT ONE has Church Girl (DVD $14.98), a stage play centering on a pastor’s daughter struggling with her faith. It stars Robin Givens, A’ngela Winbush and Karen Clark Sheard. Arriving on Valentine’s Day is The Marriage Chronicles (DVD $19.98), featuring Vivica A. Fox, Jazsmin Lewis, Mel Jackson and Darren Dewitt Henson. It paints a picture of couples trying to stay together and building strong familial foundations.

■ HBO HOME ENTERTAINMENT offers Thurgood (DVD $26.98, Blu-ray $34.98), a one-man play starring Laurence Fishburne as Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Also making their Blu-ray debuts are The Josephine Baker Story and The Tuskegee Airmen ($14.98 each), a perfect tie-in to Red Tails, currently in theaters.

■ MAGNOLIA HOME ENTERTAINMENT Feb. 7 offers A Mother’s Love (DVD $26.98), a story about three generations of broken women adapted from a gospel stage play. From director Tim Alexander (Diary of a Tired Black Man), starring actress and talk-show host Rolonda Watts and Vanessa A. Williams (“Melrose Place,” “Soul Food”), the film was an official selection at the 2011 Pan African Film Festival.

■ MPI MEDIA GROUP/IFC FILMS sounds off The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (DVD $24.98), chronicling the rise of the Black Power Movement in and prominent activists like Angela Davis, Stokely Carmichael, and Black Panthers founders Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. Talib Kweli and Ahmir Khalib Thompson (Questlove) of the Roots, Erykah Badu, Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover and Melvin Van Peebles, among others, provide commentary.

■ PBS DISTRIBUTION celebrates the 25th anniversary of the landmark Emmy and Peabody award-winning documentary, Eyes on the Prize (three-DVD set $69.99). The six-hour program from the late Henry Hampton documents the history of the civil rights movement, as is narrated by Julian Bond, a social activist, Civil Rights Movement leader, politician, professor and writer.

■ PHASE 4 FILMS has Church: The Movie (DVD $29.99), a Dove Foundation family approved film, starring Darius McCrary (“Family Matters”), Art Evans (Die Hard 2), Joseph Philips (“The District”) and Sam Sarpong (Love Don’t Cost a Thing). The inspirational drama has been characterized as a “musical journey of praise, forgiveness and redemption,” and received the Best Religious Film Award at the 2011 San Diego Black Film Festival.

■ SCREEN MEDIA FILMS offers Dog Jack (DVD $24.98), starring Academy Award winner Louis Gossett Jr., the story of a slave boy and his dog who escape from a plantation, join the Union army and eventually face their former master on the battlefield. The story is based on the true-life adventures of the mascot of the Pennsylvania 102nd. Edward T. McDougal directed the film.

■ WALT DISNEY STUDIOS HOME ENTERTAINMENT provides The Help (three-disc Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy $44.99, Blu-ray/DVD combo pack $39.99, DVD $29.99), about the diverse groups of women who build an unlikely friendship around a secret writing project in the 1960s South. Based on the best-selling book by Kathryn Stockett, the ensemble cast includes Emma Stone, Golden Globe winner Octavia Spencer, Critics’ Choice Award winner Viola Davis and Bryce Dallas Howard. Bonus material includes a making-of featurette, deleted scenes, a music video for Mary J. Blige’s “The Living Proof” and more.

■ WARNER HOME VIDEO presents on Blu-ray ($34.99) for the first time Malcolm X, the biopic of the influential Black Nationalist leader portrayed by Denzel Washington, who earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role for the part. The 20th anniversary release includes hours of special features and a collectible 40-page Blu-ray book with rare images, cast biographies, production notes and more.

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