Important Black Stories in Film, Streaming for Free

by IMDb-Editors | created - 08 Jun 2020 | updated - 22 Jun 2020 | Public

The following films are available to stream for free, as of June 10.

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1. 12 Years a Slave (2013)

R | 134 min | Biography, Drama, History

96 Metascore

In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.

Director: Steve McQueen | Stars: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Kenneth Williams, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt

Votes: 657,680 | Gross: $56.67M

Available to stream for free on Cineplex

2. 16 Shots (2019)

TV-14 | 82 min | Documentary

79 Metascore

A documentary examining the 2014 shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke and the cover-up that ensued.

Director: Rick Rowley | Stars: Anita Alvarez, Dean Angelo, Alma Benitez, William Calloway

Votes: 402

Available to stream for free on YouTube and Showtime.com

3. A Rage in Harlem (1991)

R | 115 min | Comedy, Crime

A gangster's girlfriend flees to Harlem with a trunkload of gold after a shootout, unaware that the rest of the gang are on her trail.

Director: Bill Duke | Stars: Forest Whitaker, Gregory Hines, Robin Givens, Zakes Mokae

Votes: 2,023 | Gross: $10.44M

Available to stream for free on IMDb TV

4. 42 (2013)

PG-13 | 128 min | Biography, Drama, Sport

62 Metascore

In 1947, Jackie Robinson becomes the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era when he was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers and faces considerable racism in the process.

Director: Brian Helgeland | Stars: Chadwick Boseman, T.R. Knight, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie

Votes: 89,160 | Gross: $95.00M

Available to stream for free on Cineplex

5. A Well-Spent Life (1971)

Not Rated | 44 min | Documentary, Short, Music

A deeply moving tribute to the Texas songster, Mance Lipscomb, considered by many to be the greatest guitarist of all time.

Directors: Les Blank, Skip Gerson | Stars: Mance Lipscomb, Elnora Lipscomb, Hattie Franklin, Alfred Franklin

Votes: 434

Available to stream for free on The Criterion Channel

6. Akeelah and the Bee (2006)

PG | 112 min | Drama, Family

72 Metascore

A young girl from South Los Angeles tries to make it to the National Spelling Bee.

Director: Doug Atchison | Stars: Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne, Keke Palmer, Curtis Armstrong

Votes: 18,919 | Gross: $18.81M

Available to stream for free on Cineplex

7. Ali (2001)

R | 157 min | Biography, Drama, Sport

65 Metascore

A biography of sports legend Muhammad Ali, focusing on his triumphs and controversies between 1964 and 1974.

Director: Michael Mann | Stars: Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Jon Voight, Mario Van Peebles

Votes: 95,275 | Gross: $58.20M

Available to stream for free on Prime Video and Fandango Now

8. America to Me (2018)

TV-14 | 60 min | Documentary

Follows students, teachers and administrators in suburban Chicago's Oak Park and River Forest High School over the course of a year.

Stars: Charles Donalson Jr., Ke'Shawn Kumsa, Grant Lee, Kendale McCoy

Votes: 367

Available to stream for free on STARZ

9. Amistad (1997)

R | 155 min | Biography, Drama, History

63 Metascore

In 1839, the revolt of Mende captives aboard a Spanish owned ship causes a major controversy in the United States when the ship is captured off the coast of Long Island. The courts must decide whether the Mende are slaves or legally free.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Djimon Hounsou, Matthew McConaughey, Anthony Hopkins, Morgan Freeman

Votes: 73,260 | Gross: $44.18M

Available to stream for free on Cineplex

10. And when I die, I won't stay dead (2015)

89 min | Documentary, Biography, History

A journey into the life and work of beat poet and activist Bob Kaufman and his insistence that poetry is fundamental to humanity's moral survival.

Director: Billy Woodberry | Stars: Roscoe Lee Browne, Susanne Cockrell, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee

Votes: 71

Available to stream for free on The Criterion Channel

11. Antwone Fisher (2002)

PG-13 | 120 min | Biography, Drama

62 Metascore

Antwone Fisher, a young navy man, is forced to see a psychiatrist after a violent outburst against a fellow crewman. During the course of treatment a painful past is revealed and a new hope begins.

Director: Denzel Washington | Stars: Denzel Washington, Derek Luke, Joy Bryant, Malcolm David Kelley

Votes: 34,026 | Gross: $21.08M

Available to stream for free on all digital platforms, including Prime Video, Apple TV, Fandango Now, Google Play, and more

12. Black Mother (2018)

TV-MA | 77 min | Documentary

86 Metascore

From red light districts to lush rain-forests, 'Black Mother' is a loving and lyrical ode to Jamaica and its people, a visual poem that is at once deeply felt love letter and ecstatic street-corner prayer.

Director: Khalik Allah

Votes: 427 | Gross: $0.02M

Available to stream for free on The Criterion Channel

13. Black Panthers (1968)

Not Rated | 31 min | Documentary, Short

A short film of interviews and protests at a rally to free Huey P. Newton.

Director: Agnès Varda | Stars: H. Rap Brown, Stokely Carmichael, Eldridge Cleaver, Kathleen Cleaver

Votes: 1,579

Available to stream for free on The Criterion Channel

14. Blindspotting (2018)

R | 95 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

77 Metascore

While on probation, a man begins to re-evaluate his relationship with his volatile best friend.

Director: Carlos López Estrada | Stars: Daveed Diggs, Rafael Casal, Janina Gavankar, Jasmine Cephas Jones

Votes: 28,772 | Gross: $4.33M

Available to stream for free on Prime Video and Cineplex

15. Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami (2017)

115 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

75 Metascore

Electrifying concert performances and intimate, personal footage showcase the life and talent of singer and actress Grace Jones.

Director: Sophie Fiennes | Stars: Grace Jones, Lowell 'Sly' Dunbar, Jean-Paul Goude, Marjorie Jones

Votes: 1,058 | Gross: $0.37M

Available to stream for free on Kanopy

16. Body and Soul (1925)

Not Rated | 102 min | Drama

A minister is malevolent and sinister behind his righteous facade. He consorts with, and later extorts from, the owner of a gambling house, and betrays an honest girl, eventually driving ... See full summary »

Director: Oscar Micheaux | Stars: Paul Robeson, Marshall Rogers, Lawrence Chenault, Chester A. Alexander

Votes: 868

Available to stream for free on The Criterion Channel

17. Boyz n the Hood (1991)

R | 112 min | Crime, Drama

76 Metascore

Follows the lives of three young males living in the Crenshaw ghetto of Los Angeles, dissecting questions of race, relationships, violence, and future prospects.

Director: John Singleton | Stars: Cuba Gooding Jr., Laurence Fishburne, Hudhail Al-Amir, Lloyd Avery II

Votes: 130,638 | Gross: $57.50M

Available to stream for free on Cineplex

18. Brian Banks (2018)

PG-13 | 99 min | Biography, Drama, Sport

58 Metascore

A football player's dreams to play in the NFL are halted when he is wrongly convicted and sent to prison. Years later, he fights to clear his name within an unjust system.

Director: Tom Shadyac | Stars: Aldis Hodge, Greg Kinnear, Sherri Shepherd, Melanie Liburd

Votes: 5,479 | Gross: $4.32M

Available to stream for free on all digital platforms, including Prime Video, Apple TV, Fandango Now, Google Play, and more

19. Burn Motherfucker, Burn! (2017)

TV-MA | 99 min | Documentary

Explores the roots of civil unrest in California and the relationship between African Americans and LAPD.

Director: Sacha Jenkins | Stars: Alex Alonso, Nicolas Alonso, B-Real, Danny Bakewell

Votes: 441

Available to stream for free on YouTube and Showtime.com

20. Cadillac Records (2008)

R | 109 min | Biography, Drama, Music

65 Metascore

Chronicles the rise of Chess Records and its recording artists.

Director: Darnell Martin | Stars: Adrien Brody, Jeffrey Wright, Beyoncé, Columbus Short

Votes: 20,556 | Gross: $8.20M

Available to stream for free on IMDb TV

21. Cane River (1982)

104 min | Drama, Romance

80 Metascore

The romance between two African Americans who come from a different class background.

Director: Horace Jenkins | Stars: Richard Romain, Tommye Myrick, Ilunga Adell, Lloyd La Cour

Votes: 174

Available to stream for free on The Criterion Channel

22. Coach Carter (2005)

PG-13 | 136 min | Biography, Drama, Sport

57 Metascore

Controversy surrounds high school basketball coach Ken Carter after he benches his entire team for breaking their academic contract with him.

Director: Thomas Carter | Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Rick Gonzalez, Robert Ri'chard, Rob Brown

Votes: 133,685 | Gross: $67.26M

Available to stream for free on Cineplex

23. Copwatch (2017)

Not Rated | 95 min | Documentary

Shows "Cop watchers" dedicated to bringing awareness to their community and exposing police brutality/harassment. They are legally recording/documenting each arrest but often find themselves to be the victims of chaos.

Director: Camilla Hall | Stars: Jacob Crawford, Kevin Moore, Ramsey Orta, David Whitt

Votes: 290

Available to stream for free on IMDb TV

24. Daughters of the Dust (1991)

TV-PG | 113 min | Drama, History, Romance

81 Metascore

Languid look at the Gullah culture of the sea islands off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia where African folk-ways were maintained well into the 20th Century and was one of the last ... See full summary »

Director: Julie Dash | Stars: Cora Lee Day, Alva Rogers, Barbarao, Trula Hoosier

Votes: 2,332 | Gross: $1.64M

Available to stream for free on The Criterion Channel

25. Detroit (2017)

R | 143 min | Crime, Drama, History

77 Metascore

Fact-based drama set during the 1967 Detroit riots in which a group of rogue police officers respond to a complaint with retribution rather than justice on their minds.

Director: Kathryn Bigelow | Stars: John Boyega, Anthony Mackie, Algee Smith, Jacob Latimore

Votes: 50,135 | Gross: $16.79M

Available to stream for free on Cineplex

26. Do the Right Thing (1989)

R | 120 min | Comedy, Drama

93 Metascore

On the hottest day of the year on a street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, everyone's hate and bigotry smolders and builds until it explodes into violence.

Director: Spike Lee | Stars: Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Richard Edson

Votes: 94,118 | Gross: $27.55M

Available to stream for free on Cineplex

27. Down in the Delta (1998)

PG-13 | 112 min | Drama

73 Metascore

Rosa Lynn sends her drug-addicted daughter Loretta and Loretta's children Thomas and Tracy away from the big city to live with their uncle Earl in the ancestral home in rural Mississippi. ... See full summary »

Director: Maya Angelou | Stars: Alfre Woodard, Al Freeman Jr., Mary Alice, Esther Rolle

Votes: 1,670 | Gross: $5.66M

Available to stream for free on The Criterion Channel

28. For Colored Girls (2010)

R | 133 min | Drama

50 Metascore

Each of the women portray one of the characters represented in the collection of twenty poems, revealing different issues that impact women in general and women of color in particular.

Director: Tyler Perry | Stars: Janet Jackson, Anika Noni Rose, Whoopi Goldberg, Kimberly Elise

Votes: 7,373 | Gross: $37.72M

Available to stream for free on Cineplex

29. Fruitvale Station (2013)

R | 85 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

85 Metascore

The story of Oscar Grant III, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident, who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family, and strangers on the last day of 2008.

Director: Ryan Coogler | Stars: Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer, Kevin Durand

Votes: 77,713 | Gross: $16.10M

Available to stream for free on Cineplex

30. Get Out (I) (2017)

R | 104 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

85 Metascore

A young African-American visits his white girlfriend's parents for the weekend, where his simmering uneasiness about their reception of him eventually reaches a boiling point.

Director: Jordan Peele | Stars: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener

Votes: 518,035 | Gross: $176.04M

Available to stream for free on Cineplex

31. Glory (1989)

R | 122 min | Biography, Drama, History

78 Metascore

Robert Gould Shaw leads the U.S. Civil War's first all-black volunteer company, fighting prejudices from both his own Union Army, and the Confederates.

Director: Edward Zwick | Stars: Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, Morgan Freeman

Votes: 127,458 | Gross: $26.83M

Available to stream for free on Prime Video and Cineplex

32. Good Hair (2009)

PG-13 | 96 min | Documentary, Comedy

72 Metascore

Chris Rock explores the wonders of African-American hairstyles.

Director: Jeff Stilson | Stars: Chris Rock, Maya Angelou, Al Sharpton, Tanya Crumel

Votes: 5,730 | Gross: $4.16M

Available to stream for free on IMDb TV

33. Hidden Figures (2016)

PG | 127 min | Biography, Drama, History

74 Metascore

The story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program.

Director: Theodore Melfi | Stars: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner

Votes: 209,141 | Gross: $169.61M

Available to stream for free on Cineplex

34. Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror (2019)

Not Rated | 83 min | Documentary

A look at the history of black horror films and the role of African Americans in the film genre from the very beginning.

Director: Xavier Burgin | Stars: Rusty Cundieff, Ernest R. Dickerson, Robin R. Means Coleman, Jordan Peele

Votes: 1,429

Available to stream for free on Shudder

35. I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

PG-13 | 93 min | Documentary, History

95 Metascore

Writer James Baldwin tells the story of race in modern America with his unfinished novel, Remember This House.

Director: Raoul Peck | Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, James Baldwin, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X

Votes: 20,675 | Gross: $7.12M

Available to stream for free on Cineplex, PBS.org, Hoopla and Kanopy

36. Idris Elba: King of Speed (2013– )

120 min | Documentary

A look at the world and history of racing cars.

Stars: Idris Elba, Paddy Hopkirk, Ari Vatanen, Max Vatanen

Votes: 154

Available to stream for free on IMDb TV

37. If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

R | 119 min | Drama, Romance

87 Metascore

A young woman embraces her pregnancy while she and her family set out to prove her childhood friend and lover innocent of a crime he didn't commit.

Director: Barry Jenkins | Stars: KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King, Teyonah Parris

Votes: 44,916 | Gross: $14.92M

Available to stream for free on Cineplex

38. Illusions (1982)

34 min | Drama, Short

An African American woman rises to prominence in a fictional movie studio in the 1940s by passing as a white woman, affording others some dignity in the business that frequently portrayed movies as an illusion of a purely "white world".

Director: Julie Dash | Stars: Lonette McKee, Rosanne Katon, Ned Bellamy, Jack Rader

Votes: 368

Available to stream for free on Kanopy

39. Iverson (2014)

Not Rated | 106 min | Documentary, Biography, Sport

Iverson is the ultimate legacy of NBA legend Allen Iverson, who rose from a childhood of crushing poverty in Hampton, Virginia, to become an 11-time NBA All-Star and universally recognized ... See full summary »

Director: Zatella Beatty | Stars: Allen Iverson, Tom Brokaw, Larry Brown, Dwyane Wade

Votes: 3,858

Available to stream for free on IMDb TV

40. John Lewis: Get in the Way (2017 TV Movie)

PG | 60 min | Documentary, Biography, History

John Lewis: Get in the Way is the first major documentary biography of John Lewis, civil rights hero, congressional leader and champion of human rights whose unwavering fight for justice ... See full summary »

Director: Kathleen Dowdey | Stars: Juanita Abernathy, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Bernard Lafayette, John Lewis

Votes: 49

Available to stream for free on PBS.org until July 5

41. Just Mercy (2019)

PG-13 | 137 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

68 Metascore

World-renowned civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson works to free a wrongly condemned death row prisoner.

Director: Destin Daniel Cretton | Stars: Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Brie Larson, Charlie Pye Jr.

Votes: 53,336

Available to stream for free on Prime Video, Cineplex, iTunes, FandangoNow, Vudu, YouTube and On Demand

42. Keep on Keepin' On (2014)

R | 84 min | Documentary

77 Metascore

A documentary that follows jazz legend Clark Terry over four years to document the mentorship between Terry and 23-year-old blind piano prodigy Justin Kauflin as the young man prepares to compete in an elite, international competition.

Director: Alan Hicks | Stars: Clark Terry, Justin Kauflin, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock

Votes: 983 | Gross: $0.16M

Available to stream for free on Cineplex

43. Lean on Me (1989)

PG-13 | 108 min | Drama

58 Metascore

The dedicated but tyrannical Joe Clark is appointed the principal of a decaying inner-city school he is determined to improve by any and all means.

Director: John G. Avildsen | Stars: Morgan Freeman, Beverly Todd, Robert Guillaume, Alan North

Votes: 18,823 | Gross: $31.91M

Available to stream for free on Cineplex

44. Losing Ground (1982)

86 min | Comedy, Drama

Sara, a cold college professor, and her husband, an ecstatic painter, spend a summer away from the city, straining their rocky relationship.

Director: Kathleen Collins | Stars: Seret Scott, Bill Gunn, Duane Jones, Billie Allen

Votes: 579

Available to stream for free on The Criterion Channel

45. Loving (2016)

PG-13 | 123 min | Biography, Drama, Romance

79 Metascore

The story of Richard and Mildred Loving, a couple whose arrest for interracial marriage in 1960s Virginia began a legal battle that would end with the Supreme Court's historic 1967 decision.