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Things We Saw Today: Criterion Collection Lifts Paywall for Black Cinema Classics and Contemporary Movies

Down in the Delta movie directed by Maya Angelou

The Criterion Collection highlights important films in classic and contemporary history and makes them available for home consumption. Now, rather than simply issuing platitudes around our current events, the company is establishing a fund that will contribute to organizations supporting Black Live Matter on an ongoing basis, and they are taking down the paywall around many movies made by Black filmmakers.

According to IndieWire, “the company announced a $25,000 initial contribution, followed by an ongoing $5,000 monthly commitment for organizations supporting Black Lives Matter.” Alongside this gesture of solidarity,

But Criterion also announced that it’s lifting the paywall on select titles from Black filmmakers, and white filmmakers who’ve captured the Black experience through documentary, so that audiences at home can stream them for free, with no need for a subscription.

Titles streaming for free on Criterion Channel include Julie Dash’s “Daughters of the Dust,” Maya Angelou’s “Down in the Delta,” Shirley Clarke’s “Portrait of Jason,” Agnès Varda’s “Black Panthers,” Kathleen Collins’ “Losing Ground,” and many more. The titles are currently curated on the Criterion Channel’s homepage.

Further info on what’s streaming can be found in Criterion’s statement:

We are also using our streaming platform, the Criterion Channel, to highlight films that focus on Black Lives, including works by early pioneers of African American Cinema such as Oscar Micheaux; classics by Maya Angelou, Julie Dash, William Greaves, Kathleen Collins, Cheryl Dunye, and Charles Burnett; contemporary work by Khalik Allah and Leilah Weinraub; and documentary portraits of black experience by white filmmakers Les Blank and Shirley Clarke. We’ve taken down the paywall on as many of these titles as we can, so even if you aren’t a subscriber you can watch them for free.

(via Indie Wire, Criterion Collection, image: Miramax)

Here’s what else we saw today.

  • “#BlackOutTuesday was a case study in how performative solidarity goes awry” (via WaPo)
  • Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ “stunning rebuke” of Trump is well worth the read and passing along to friends and relatives, even if it feels like he’s very late. (via NPR)
  • Attorney General William “The Enabler” Barr has a “vast, nameless army” of prison officers he’s brought in to terrorize protesters. William Barr should be in prison. (via Huffington Post)
  • Late Night writer Amber Ruffin on her awful encounters with the police. (via Huffington Post)
  • What I have to say about Charlie Kirk isn’t fit to print.

  • Halsey explains white-passing privilege. (via Teen Vogue)
  • John Boyega shows movie stars what real activism and political engagement looks like. (via The Guardian)
  • Guess what, troll farms in Macedonia and the Philippines were helping to push that coronavirus misinformation the worst people you know were sharing on Facebook. (via NBC News)

What did you see in our dystopian hellscape today?

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Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.