“Free Angela and All Political Prisoners” is a 2013 documentary directed by Shola Lynch about the events that led to Angela Davis’ arrest and prosecution. Davis was a college professor in California whose social activism put her at odds with various politicians, including the state’s then-governor, Ronald Regan. When associates of Davis created a hostage situation, she was implicated as being involved after the situation left four people dead. The hostile climate and looming accusations led to Davis going on the run and would land her on the FBI’s most-wanted list.
“Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool” is a 2019 Stanley Nelson Jr. documentary about the life and career of the jazz legend. Clocking in at about two hours the film features a collection of clips, photos, and interviews with his contemporaries and collaborators. The documentary doesn’t just tick along the timeline of Miles’ life but rather dives into the highs and lows of his personal life as well as how they affected the creative process behind his music.
“Ray” is a 2004 Oscar-winning film starring Jamie Foxx in a biopic about the life and career of legendary musician Ray Charles Robinson (better known as Ray Charles). Over the course of the film we see how traumatic moments from Ray’s childhood continued to haunt and impact him as an adult. There is also some insight into his career from the perspective of both its creative milestones and business dealings.
Bessie is an HBO film starring Queen Latifah in an excellent portrayal of 1920’s blues legend Bessie Smith. The movie covers Bessie’s rise, fall, and comeback during the 1920’s — 1930’s with brief peeks back into her childhood. The movie is quite good due to the great performances and cinematography but the story itself is a bit lacking. It isn’t perfect but it’s still enjoyable and worth seeing. I recommend Bessie if you’re into music, a fan of any of the actors, or you’re just looking for a good movie to watch.