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

2
The Battle of Algiers
1966
The Battle of Algiers
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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.  

3
Bloody Sunday
2002
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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.

4
Malcolm X
1992
Malcolm X
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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.  

5
Get Out
2017
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Get Out demonstrates the terror of racial prejudice, manipulating horror film conventions and expectations to provoke a visceral empathy for the actual horror experienced in everyday black America. The film potently depicts the subtle and pernicious ways that racism operates.

6
Sorry to Bother You
2018
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A surreal look at being Black under capitalism that somehow makes total sense to anyone who’s been Black under capitalism. 

7
Parasite
2019
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Turns a microscope on life under capitalism and what its effects are on the human beings caught in its maze. 

8
Fruitvale Station
2013
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An intimate character study of a young man's last days, and of how unknowingly close to tragedy Black men routinely are in America. 

9
Moonlight
2016
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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.

10
Pariah
2011
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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.  

11
Twelve Years a Slave
2013
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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. 

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