It is important to talk about racism and racial injustice. Film can be an effective tool in learning and opening up conversations about inequality.
To help you and your family learn more about the subject, we’ve put together a list of five documentaries and feature films that address both the history of racism and how it impacts society today.
Each film includes a brief synopsis, the age rating and our ratings info, so you can make an informed decision before you press play.
images of real violence, racist and strong language
I Am Not Your Negro is a documentary, based on the writings of James Baldwin, that explores the historical issue of racial discrimination and violence in the United States.
There are photographs and archive footage of violence directed at African-Americans through the twentieth century. This includes race-based attacks on African-Americans by people opposed to desegregation, police measures taken at demonstrations during the Civil Rights era, and race riots during the following decades, as well as examples of police brutality such as the beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles in 1991. There are also depictions of the consequences of such violence, such as images of murder victims lying in morgues or in coffins at funerals, and a photograph of the faces of black men hanged in the course of a racist lynching. The footage and photographs are presented in the context of a documentary that explores the issue of historical and contemporary racial attitudes in the United States. The documentary also includes excerpts from a number of cinema features that contain moments of moderate violence, and a scene from the 1970 film SOLDIER BLUE in which a Native American woman's dress is torn off by cavalry soldiers to reveal full frontal nudity in a brief depiction of sexual threat.
There are uses of terms such as 'n****r' in archive footage, which are expressed in directly discriminatory way, but also in an ironic manner by African-American figures as they challenge the language and the attitudes behind it. Other terms, such as 'negro' and 'coloured', are spoken in the historical context of times when such language was used by both black and white communities.
There is infrequent strong language ('f**k') in the lyrics of a song.
moderate violence, drug and sex references, infrequent strong language
The Hate U Give is a US drama in which a teenage girl is drawn into activism after she witnesses the murder of her friend by a white police officer.
A white police officer shoots a black teenager, with bloody aftermath detail as the young man dies in the street.
There are references to drug-dealing, as well as to 'molly', 'crack' and 'pills'. The work as a whole does not condone drug misuse.
There are undetailed references to condoms and 'hos'.
There is use of infrequent strong language ('f**k'), as well as milder terms such as 'shit', 'butt', 'ass', 'damn', 'bitch', and 'piss'.
Racism is a theme of the film. There is moderate threat during drive-by shootings, armed stand-offs and riots.
execution scene, racist language, moderate threat, language
Just Mercy is a biographical drama in which a law graduate sets up a practice offering legal services to death row inmates, and campaigns for a wrongfully convicted man to be granted a retrial.
There is an intense, prolonged sequence leading up to a man's execution by electric chair. There is some emphasis on the man's anguish, as well as that of others witnessing the execution.
There is some use of racist language, including 'n***er' and several instances of discriminatory behaviour, such as a scene in which a black man is stopped and intimidated by white police officers.
Threat and horror
Scenes of threat include one in which a woman receives a telephone call from men muttering insults and racist abuse, and claiming there are explosives rigged at her home.
There is moderate bad language ('bitch'), and peer use of the term 'n***a', as well as milder terms such as 'ass' and 'shit'.
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strong language, violence, injury detail
Fruitvale Station is a US drama about the final 24 hours in the life of a young black man from the San Francisco Bay area.
There are approximately fifty uses of strong language ('motherf**ker' and 'f**k'), as well as various uses of milder bad language, including 'asshole', 'bitch' and 'shit'. There are also a few uses of the term 'n***er', either in the lyrics of rap songs, or in peer-to-peer conversations between young black male friends.
Infrequent strong violence includes sight of a man being shot in the back. Almost immediately blood begins to collect around his mouth, before pooling on the ground by his head. A bloody bullet hole is seen in the victim's back when a paramedic cuts away his shirt.
Other issues include two scenes of cannabis joint smoking, and a scene showing cannabis being sold. In another scene a stray pitbull dog appears to be run over by a truck. A little blood is seen around the animal's muzzle. However, the shooting of the scene was monitored by the American Humane Association and no cruelty was employed.
images of real dead bodies, violence, rape references, racist language
Directed by Ava DuVerney, The 13th shows an in-depth look at the prison system in the United States and reveals the nation's history of racial inequality