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AfroPoP

BPM’s signature series of documentary films from across the African diaspora.

Commissioned Shorts

Shorts commissioned by Black Public Media that discuss a variety of topics that affect the Black community.

More BPM-Supported Films

BPM-funded films broadcast on PBS’ POV, Independent Lens, American Masters, America Reframed, American Experience, NOVA, and special presentations.

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Duration: 1:25:52

Episode 1: Commuted

When Danielle Metz’s triple life sentence was commuted, she got a rare chance to regain the life and family that she’d been dreaming about in prison. But back home in New Orleans, she steps into a different reality. Commuted traces Danielle’s journey to find purpose and love, and to confront the wounds of incarceration that linger after release from prison.

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Duration: :56:20

Everything: The Real Thing Story

Dubbed “The Black Beatles,” the British band, The Real Thing, broke barriers while singing about social conditions of the times. The film features surviving members and recording artists reflecting on the importance of the pioneering group

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Duration: 11:40

Episode 1: CoVID Conversations

COVID-19 has forced us to change how we approach most of our foundational norms. Yet, despite medical professionals, public health organizations, and patients’ efforts to promote the importance of COVID-19 vaccinations, there has been an acceleration of misinformation, especially targeting Black communities. The uncontrollable spread of misinformation only adds to the African American community’s historical distrust of the public health system. This episode is apart of the four-part series that uncovers the raw, uncut, and unfiltered opinions of a collection of individuals who represent the fabric of Black Baltimore’s diverse communities.

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Duration: 8:15

Episode 2: Betye Saar: Taking Care Of Business

There’s no stopping legendary artist Betye Saar, now in her nineties, whose intricate collage and assemblage works explode stereotypes of Black femininity.

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Duration: 8:41

Episode 3: Black Folk Don't... Go Green

Are black folk green? What does going green even mean? Black Folk Don’t is a web series exploring the grey areas between truth and stereotype.

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Duration: 10:02

Episode 5: The Black Disquisition

The Black Disquisition is an affecting true story of the traumatic event in a boy’s life that fractures his self-image and the difficult conversation his parents must have with him about race in America. With its avant-garde narrative structure and rotoscope animation, this film illuminates how a brief childhood encounter can alter a life well into adulthood.

A young Black man standing infront of a wire fence with two oil tanks in the background
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Duration: 30:25

Episode 6: Midnight Oil

For nearly fifteen years, Bilal worked as a steelworker at the area’s largest oil refinery. His documentary film, Midnight Oil, draws on this experience. The film chronicles his struggle to reconcile his love and kinship for his distressed refinery brothers and sisters and his growing awareness of the surrounding communities of color, fighting for environmental justice. Midnight Oil was a 2020 Official Selection at the BlackStar Film Festival and a Doc Society NYC grantee. The film can be seen on the new streaming platform, ARGO.

underwater shot of a fair-skinned woman in a black bathing suit and swim cap wearing goggles as she swims in a pool
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Duration: 11:33

Episode 7: Portal

Portal is a documentary short about the lack of touch for single people during the first year of COVID-19 and how two queer, BIPOC friends sustain each other through verbal communication and connection.

black woman in camel colored coat with dreadlocks strolls in front of a storefront. in the background, a thin layer of snow is packed around a tree wrapped in fairy lights
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Duration: 22:48

Episode 9: Descended From The Promised Land

If the Tulsa Race Massacre had never happened, would Black Wall Street have influenced the entire nation? An intimate look at the lingering economic, psychological, and emotional impacts through the lens of several family descendants.

animated still features four black males, left-to-right, a gray-haired elder in a burgandy shirt embraces a younger man with an amber curly afro, who stands beside a man with cornrows wearing a red and black dotted shirt. a teenager with a red afro sits in front wearing a colorful camo hoodie
Play Video about animated still features four black males, left-to-right, a gray-haired elder in a burgandy shirt embraces a younger man with an amber curly afro, who stands beside a man with cornrows wearing a red and black dotted shirt. a teenager with a red afro sits in front wearing a colorful camo hoodie
Duration: 5:46

Episode 10: A Little Off the Top

A Little Off the Top is a scripted, humorous, web-series about an elderly, African-American barber, whose quirky and off-the-cuff advice during haircuts, uplifts and inspires his recurring millennial, male customer. The series features 3D modeled figures of barber and customer, set amongst a miniature, hand-built barber shop set. Each light-hearted webisode explores a pressing social issue, where the customer asks the barber for advice on various issues affecting a young black man in today’s America.

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Duration: 6:20

Episode 11: Black Folk Don't....Do Winter Sports

Quick – name a winter sports athlete other than Shani Davis. Hm, well you be the judge of your skills on that one. But why is it that winter sports seem to have less black folk in the mix? Is this not the case? What do you think?

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Duration: 7:12

Episode 12: The Forgotten Ones

A poignant story of one man’s 40-year struggle with homelessness in the heart of Hollywood.

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Duration: 9:10

Episode 13: An Extra Day To Be Black

This short follows contemporary artist Michael Britto talking about what he’s going to do on February 29 during Black History Month.

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Duration: 8:51

Episode 14: For The Moon

A coming-of-age story set in 1959 that follows a 9-year-old precocious African-American who enters an all-white library, in a deeply segregated South Carolina, and refuses to leave without his books.

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Duration: 54:11

Episode 15: Directors Roundtable

In this special roundtable, we sit and chat with the AfroPop: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange season 16 directors.

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Duration: 26:16

Episode 16: Smile4Kime

Smile4Kime is a documentary that uses animation and live-action footage to tell a story of friendship, mental health, and Afro-Puerto Rican spirituality. The film explores the impact of social stigma and institutional barriers Black women face when seeking support and how we show up for those we love through the friendship of Elena and Kime.

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Duration: 2:22

Meet Jei (they/them)

Janelle “Jei” Lawrence (they/them) is an interdisciplinary artist and educator. They are an adjunct professor at Brooklyn College and Point Park University as well as an ASL and musical theatre teacher at Harvest Collegiate High School, where they chair the arts department. They are a regionally recognized composer and playwright and love to spend their available time meditating in nature.
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Duration: 2:28

Meet Brit (he/him) & Sharon (she/her)

BRIT FRYER (he/him) is a Brooklyn-based queer and trans filmmaker from Chicago. His process-based nonfiction films use the act of creating to imagine futures that aren’t here yet. His most recent documentary, THE SCRIPT explores the shared language that trans communities grapple with in order to access medical care.
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Duration: 2:10

Meet Maya (she/they)

DR. MAYA (she/they) is a transmasc pediatric dentist in Southern New Jersey. They work with kids ages 4 to 17. Their work is, predictably, very medical – a reminder to floss, a cavity filling. But sometimes their work concerns the quality of their patient’s experience as it relates to gender – after all there’s more than one way to protect a smile.
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Duration: 1:00

Why Vote? BE HEARD!

Hear what actor Erika Alexander and comedian/radio personality Brian Babylon have to say about voting in 2020. This is one of several videos featured in Black Public Media’s new BE HEARD! campaign.
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Duration: 1:00

Listen BE HEARD!

Instead of all the partisan rancor, political analysts Shermichael Singleton and Jehmu Greene suggest Americans need more listening.

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Duration: 1:00

Reparations BE HEARD!

Hear what actor Gabourey Sidibe and Ohio State Senator Nina Turner have to say about why reparations matters and how it might be administered. (Hint: It’s not what you might think.) This is one of several videos featured in Black Public Media’s new BE HEARD! campaign.
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Duration: 3:00

Covid Conversations Episode 1 of 4

Funding for this digital series is possible due to funding provided by the National Network to Innovate for COVID-19 and Adult Vaccine Equity (NNICE). The NNICE is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of their National Partnering for Vaccine Equity Initiative.
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Duration: 2:50

Covid Conversations Episode 2 of 4

Funding for this digital series is possible due to funding provided by the National Network to Innovate for COVID-19 and Adult Vaccine Equity (NNICE). The NNICE is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of their National Partnering for Vaccine Equity Initiative.
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Duration: 2:59

Covid Conversations Episode 3 of 4

Funding for this Digital Series is possible due to funding provided by the National Network to Innovate for COVID-19 and Adult Vaccine Equity (NNICE). The NNICE is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of their National Partnering for Vaccine Equity Initiative.
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Duration: 2:54

Covid Conversations Episode 4 of 4

Funding for this digital series is possible due to funding provided by the National Network to Innovate for COVID-19 and Adult Vaccine Equity (NNICE). The NNICE is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of their National Partnering for Vaccine Equity Initiative.
Play Video
Duration: 2:54

COVID CONVERSATIONS Episode 4 of 4

Funding for this digital series is possible due to funding provided by the National Network to Innovate for COVID-19 and Adult Vaccine Equity (NNICE). The NNICE is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of their National Partnering for Vaccine Equity Initiative.
Duration: 1:22:29

Max Roach: The Drum Also Waltzes

Experience the groundbreaking sounds of bebop pioneer and virtuoso composer Max Roach, whose far-reaching ambitions were inspired and challenged by the inequities of the society around him.

Duration: 1:25:13

Hazing

An Evanston, Illinois rookie alderwoman led the passage of the first tax-funded reparations bill for Black Americans. While she and her community struggle with the burden to make restitution for its citizens, a national racial crisis engulfs the country. Will the debt ever be addressed, or is it too late for a reparations movement to finally get the big payback?
Duration: 1:25:13

The Picture Taker

An Evanston, Illinois rookie alderwoman led the passage of the first tax-funded reparations bill for Black Americans. While she and her community struggle with the burden to make restitution for its citizens, a national racial crisis engulfs the country. Will the debt ever be addressed, or is it too late for a reparations movement to finally get the big payback?
Duration: 1:24:45

Storming Caesars Palace

After losing her job as a hotel worker in Las Vegas, Ruby Duncan joined a welfare rights group of mothers who defied notions of the “welfare queen.” In a fight for guaranteed income, Ruby and other equality activists took on the Nevada mob in organizing a massive protest that shut down Caesars Palace.
Duration: 1:25:13

The Big Payback

An Evanston, Illinois rookie alderwoman led the passage of the first tax-funded reparations bill for Black Americans. While she and her community struggle with the burden to make restitution for its citizens, a national racial crisis engulfs the country. Will the debt ever be addressed, or is it too late for a reparations movement to finally get the big payback?
Duration: 1:23:04

The Neutral Ground

The Neutral Ground documents New Orleans’ fight over monuments and America’s troubled romance with the Lost Cause. In 2015, director CJ Hunt was filming the New Orleans City Council’s vote to remove four confederate monuments. But when that removal is halted by lawsuits and death threats, CJ sets out to understand why a losing army from 1865 still holds so much power in America.
Duration: 1:25:44

Outta the Muck

Wade into the rich soil of Pahokee, Florida, a town on the banks of Lake Okeechobee. Beyond its football legacy, including sending over a dozen players to the NFL (like Anquan Boldin, Fred Taylor, and Rickey Jackson), the fiercely self-determined community tells their stories of Black achievement and resilience in the face of tragic storms and personal trauma.
Duration: 60:00

Fannie Lou Hamer's America

“Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave?” With those words at the 1964 Democratic Convention, Fannie Lou Hamer changed the course of Civil Rights forever. By working in the cotton fields of Mississippi from the age of six, Fannie Lou Hamer was keenly aware of the racial injustices that forced her family to labor so much while earning so little.
Duration: 56:43

The American Diplomat

Discover the legendary choreographer Alvin Ailey whose dances center on the Black American experience with grace, strength and beauty. Featuring previously unheard audio interviews with Ailey, interviews with those close to him and an intimate glimpse into the Ailey studios today.
Duration: 1:22:35

Let the Little Light Shine

National Teachers Academy (NTA) is considered a beacon for Black children: a top-ranked, high-performing elementary school in the fastest growing neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. As the neighborhood gentrifies, a wealthy parents’ group seeks to close NTA and replace it with a high school campus. How will NTA’s community fight to save their beloved institution?
Duration: 1:53:01

Marian Anderson: The Whole World in Her Hands

Discover an international singer who captivated royalty in Europe and defied the conscience of 1939 America. Watch rare archival footage and hear audio recordings exploring her life and career from the Metropolitan Opera to the State Department.
Duration: 56:43

Ailey

Discover the legendary choreographer Alvin Ailey whose dances center on the Black American experience with grace, strength and beauty. Featuring previously unheard audio interviews with Ailey, interviews with those close to him and an intimate glimpse into the Ailey studios today.