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11 Films Born from Empathy
Peter Ramsey

Peter Ramsey

Director

What made me think of these films is their quality of empathy, and the way they put the viewer in the head and heart of their subjects. In all of them, the personal and the political struggle on some level merge into one.

1

If Beale Street Could Talk

2018

WHERE TO WATCH

Transcendent true love versus American racism and the criminal justice system, with no punches pulled.

WHERE TO WATCH
If Beale Street Could Talk
2018
119 Mins | R
After her fiance is imprisoned, a pregnant African-American woman sets out to prove his innocence.


2

The Battle of Algiers

WHERE TO WATCH

The classic of anti-colonialist revolution, which unflinchingly asks us every difficult question about what it really means to fight for freedom against an oppressor, and what it demands of the people doing the fighting.  

WHERE TO WATCH
The Battle of Algiers
1966
125 Mins | 15
Between 1954 and '62, Algeria fights for independence from the French.


3

Bloody Sunday

2002

WHERE TO WATCH

A gripping account of the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry, Northern Ireland. It’s told through the eyes of a member of Northern Ireland’s Parliament who desperately tries to avert violence during a political march. The film puts you in the middle of an inescapable tragedy brought on by political division.

WHERE TO WATCH
Bloody Sunday
2002
107 Mins | R
Troops open fire on civil-rights leader Ivan Cooper and other peaceful protesters.


4

Malcolm X

1992

WHERE TO WATCH

Masterful portrait of the evolution of Malcolm, from small-time crook to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. A study of awakening and change in the soul of a Black man in America.  

WHERE TO WATCH
Malcolm X
1992
201 Mins | PG-13
The civil-rights leader (Denzel Washington) rises from criminal to crusader.


5

Get Out

2017

WHERE TO WATCH

A perceptive look into the tangled web of the role of race in America’s psyche, disguised as a horror movie.  

WHERE TO WATCH
Get Out
2017
104 Mins | R
A young man uncovers a dark secret when he meets his girlfriend's parents for the first time.


6

Sorry to Bother You

2018

WHERE TO WATCH

A surreal look at being Black under capitalism that somehow makes total sense to anyone who’s been Black under capitalism. 

WHERE TO WATCH
Sorry to Bother You
2018
105 Mins | R
A telemarketer discovers a magical key to success in an alternate reality of Oakland, Calif.


7

Parasite

2019

WHERE TO WATCH

Turns a microscope on life under capitalism and what its effects are on the human beings caught in its maze. 

WHERE TO WATCH
Parasite
2019
132 Mins | R
Greed and class discrimination threaten the relationship between a poor family and a wealthy family.


8

Fruitvale Station

2013

WHERE TO WATCH

An intimate character study of a young man's last days, and of how unknowingly close to tragedy Black men routinely are in America. 

WHERE TO WATCH
Fruitvale Station
2013
85 Mins | R
Flashbacks reveal the final day in the life of Oscar Grant, a young man shot dead by police.


9

Moonlight

2016

WHERE TO WATCH

One of the first masterpieces of the 21st century, exploring the journey and soul of a young gay Black man with devastating compassion and introspection.

WHERE TO WATCH
Moonlight
2016
111 Mins | R
A look at three defining chapters in the life of Chiron, a young black man growing up in Miami.


10

Pariah

2011

WHERE TO WATCH

A young Black queer woman discovers the courage to embrace who she is against all obstacles. A beautiful, subtle film about protecting your own humanity.  

WHERE TO WATCH
Pariah
2011
86 Mins | R
Though not out to her parents, a Brooklyn teenager embraces her sexual identity as a lesbian.


11

Twelve Years a Slave

2013

WHERE TO WATCH

A traumatic, masterfully made film that refuses to pull punches, to avert its gaze or to offer easy catharsis or false hope. It’s hard to watch; it puts you there, alone, and you wonder how anyone could ever survive it. 

WHERE TO WATCH
Twelve Years a Slave
2013
134 Mins | R
Free black New Yorker Solomon Northup is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South.


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