Criterion Collection streaming films which focus on Black Lives for free

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

Criterion Collection, Black Lives Matter

Over the course of the past week, we've seen Hollywood voice their support of the nationwide protests against police violence against Black lives, and many are doing what they can in order to further the cause and support organizations which fight racism in America. The Criterion Collection is home to some of the finest films to be found in world cinema, and they announced today that they will be making a series of series about and by Black voices available for free on the Criterion Channel.

"We are also using our streaming platform, the Criterion Channel, to highlight films that focus on Black Lives," reads Criterion's statement, "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." Not only that, but Criterion is also establishing "an employee-guided fund with a $25,000 initial contribution and an ongoing $5,000 monthly commitment to support organizations fighting racism in America, including bail funds, community organizations, legal defense funds, and advocacy groups that address police reform." Criterion will be keeping fans informed of the organizations they will be supporting on Twitter and Instagram.

You can read the complete statement from Criterion below:

Dear Criterion community,

This has been a powerfully emotional time. The disproportionate toll that COVID-19 has taken on communities of color; the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Tony McDade; and the casually lethal racism of the Central Park dog walker who called the cops on bird-watcher Christian Cooper have once again thrown into sharp focus the inescapable reality of systemic racism in our society and the many kinds of violence it inflicts on black Americans every day.

Black Lives Matter. The anguish and fury unleashed all across the country are rooted in centuries of dehumanization and death. This pattern must stop. We support the protesters who have taken to the streets to demand justice, and we share their hopes. We are committed to fighting systemic racism.

We’ve met as a company and a community to talk openly about the work we need to do to build a better, more equitable, more diverse Criterion, beginning with education and training for our ownership and our staff. We are also committed to examining the role we play in the idea of canon formation, whose voices get elevated, and who gets to decide what stories get told.

Today we are establishing an employee-guided fund with a $25,000 initial contribution and an ongoing $5,000 monthly commitment to support organizations fighting racism in America, including bail funds, community organizations, legal defense funds, and advocacy groups that address police reform. If you follow us on Twitter or Instagram, we’ll keep you informed of the organizations we’re supporting.

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.

We are grateful for your continued support and hope that you will join us in speaking out and making a meaningful commitment to battling systemic racism in our country.

Sincerely, Peter Becker and Jonathan Turell

A few of the films which can be found streaming for free on the Criterion Channel include Billy Woodberry's AND WHEN I DIE I WON'T STAY DEAD, Khalik Allah's BLACK MOTHER, Agnes Varda's BLACK PANTHERS, Oscar Micheaux's SOUL, and more.

Source: Criterion Collection

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Based in Canada, Kevin Fraser has been a news editor with JoBlo since 2015. When not writing for the site, you can find him indulging in his passion for baking and adding to his increasingly large collection of movies that he can never find the time to watch.