11 Black Male Directors Besides Spike Lee Who Have Established A Respectable Career Behind The Camera

melvin-van-peebles

Melvin Van Peebles

Notable Works: Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971)

Impact: Van Peebles was at the forefront of the blaxploitation film movement. His movie Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song dealt with harsh police brutality against Black folks in the 1970s. What makes his film so important is that he owned everything, and the film was entirely independent.

 

Mario Van Peebles 1Mario Van Peebles

Notable Works: New Jack City (1991), Baadasssss! (2003)

Impact: Van Peebles started directing on the TV show 21 Jump Street back in the 1980s. His film New Jack City created a trend of Black films that focused on the lives of Black people living in urban areas that shared their struggle with the world. Without New Jack City, there may not have been a Boyz in the Hood (1991) or Menace II Society (1993). Baadasssss! was about the creation of his father’s film Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song. This film was a narrative about how Melvin Van Peebles created the film. All of the ups and downs were portrayed.

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Comments

  1. So you don't think lee Daniels counts. Definitely the most prolific black director of the moment. How many acclaimed movies and highly rated tv shows does he have to make to get on your list?

  2. You made my point for me. Lee Daniels get recognized for his work. He get to go to the awards ceremonies and get the chance to create a TV show. They didn't. These directors don't get enough credit. I wanted to highlight them and some films/TV shows that is in the public zeitgeist.

  3. Ricky Riley I understand your point but I'm thinking you should of titled this besides Spike Lee and Lee Daniels or don't mention either.

  4. I'm familiar Carl Franklin as an acclaimed Actor that exdpanded his talents behind the camera, I can say that the on set of Indenpdant films , if we take opportunity to view new films that will certainly empower new BLACK directors to challenge the a'list directors!!

  5. Keep onn writing, great job!

  6. Spike is more vital to Black Cinema than Lee Daniels. He was the originator. Without Spike there would not have been a Lee Daniels, F. Gary Gray, John Singleton or the many others on this list. And I did not mention anything about Lee Daniels. He directed two films that are noteworthy but he is no where near Spike Lee who has been making films for almost 40 years now. You like Lee Daniels that is cool. Empire is a good show but Spike started all of this. That is film class 101.

  7. Something to note!!

  8. So why focus on men? Why not just say Black and include women?

  9. Where are the documentary directors?

  10. I am working on that as I type. There will be an all female list.

  11. Sadly, I don't know a lot of Black documentary filmmakers

  12. Thank you for your work.

  13. Yep … There may be a second list like this with Reginald Hudlin, Robert Townsend, and others. Thanks for the reply.

  14. We need more. Our Oscar wins are (all) dysfunctional or sub class characters for black actors.

  15. Ricky Riley No Spike did not start all of this. It really starts with the LA Rebellion at UCLA, and before them, Melvin Van Peebles, and before him, a little film from Chicago called The Cry of Jazz by Ed Blanton and before that Oscar Micheaux, Spencer WIlliams and the sisters of the silent film era, Maria P. Williams, Eloyce King Patrick Gist, Tressie Souders, Harlem photographer James Van Der Zee's Sister, Madame E. Touissant Welcome. Spike stood on the back of these pioneers to get to where he is.

  16. That's correct but Spike is the first Black super star director. Hollywood saw that his movies made money and it open the doors for other people.

    And Melvin van Peebles is on the second page of this very list along with Mario van Peebles.

    The other directors you mentioned were vital to the history of film but you can't believe they lead to Black directors directing Hollywood films directly.

    Spike Lee led directly to people like Keenan Ivory Wayans, Reginald Hudlin, and other Black directors. After the success of Do the Right Thing, Black cinema exploded.

    In what other decade since 1900 has there been an explosion of Black films directed by Black people. The only answer is 1990. Why is that? Most Blaxploitation films were directed by white dudes like Jack hill, so the 1970s can't be.

    There were more male and female Black directors working in '90s than ever in the 100 years films were around.

    Thank you for the comment but Spike is important and the people you mentioned are forgotten legends. Who knows that could be another listicle.

    Peace.

  17. I am quite surprise that Paris Barclay is not on the list as well. Becoming the President of the DGA is paramount

  18. Ricky Riley Thanks, Ricky! Please "Like" our http://www.Facebook.com/BlackDocumentaryCollectiveFanPage where I could name a number of directors who have been influencing media for decades. Join us! Thanks!

  19. Yeah … he will be on the second list.

  20. Seems you need a little help with this list. Charles Burnett? http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0122344/?ref_=tt_ov_dr

  21. No this list is complete. It make no sense to create 1 list with 100 directors when I can create 10 lists with 10 directors. That's like asking Apple to create one iPhone that can last a lifetime. Bad business. Thanks for the comment.

  22. This current list was successful, so there will be more.
    Thanks for comment.

  23. Kyle Moon I strongly agree.

  24. Kinda why these lists are dumb…always a struggle with the ones you leave off-Reggie Hudlin, Kevin Sullivan, Denzel Washington, Darnell Martin, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Ava DuVerney…etc.etc.

  25. Don't know what you mean by dumb.

    Ava duVarney and Gina Prince-Bythewood is on a list I did earlier this week

    https://blerds.atlantablackstar.com/2015/05/28/8-amazing-black-female-directors-who-have-established-a-respectable-career-behind-the-camera/2/

    https://blerds.atlantablackstar.com/2015/05/28/8-amazing-black-female-directors-who-have-established-a-respectable-career-behind-the-camera/3/

    I guess highlighting black excellence isn't a good thing?

    There will be more content like because this is a website that focuses on the excellence of black people doing great things in mostly white industries. So it really isn't dumb. Well, not to me.

  26. Ricky Riley Your article heading refers to a "respectable career behind the camera…" and you list Mario Van Peebles (no disrespect) rather than Charles Burnett. Burnett has long borne the dubious distinction of being, as critic Armond White observed, “the least well-known great American filmmaker.” If you're going to create a list to educate and inform, dig a little deeper.

  27. Gordon Parks, whom you mentioned, died in 2006 so I think he falls into your "forgotten legends" category.

  28. Ricky Riley Also, your Apple analogy doesn't work. If you're gonna write, do a little research and be prepared to defend your words.

  29. I wrote almost 200 lists in past two years. I will probably write 100 by the end of this year. You like Charles Burnett and I can respect that. Burnett is a great director and he deserve more recognition. He will be on a future list more than likely. Taking shots like "dig deeper" and using Armond White as a source isn't helping anyone.

    Van Peebles isn't bad director. I think he did some great early work. He just didn't get any real opportunities. So thank you again for your comments.

  30. No. Shaft had a remake, Black dynamite was based off of Shaft, Richard Roundtree became a star actor, Gordon Parks was famous for his photography. People knew Parks and Shaft became an American icon. How many people are going to know Ed Blanton off hand.

  31. Ricky Riley not taking shots. I just happen to think your list is off the mark and somewhat inconsistent based on your head-line. You used the word "established". Obviously, we have a different definition of that word.

  32. What about Steve McQueen – 12 Years A Slave, etc??

  33. Great article, but please add Kevin Willmotthttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBFILPgRPiwhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBFILPgRPiw

  34. Plz add me to list of female directors, 1987 "unspoken conversation". I am a student of the late Kathleen Collins-Prettyman and was Apprentice script supervisor on "Alma's Rainbow", directed by Ayoka Chenzira and co-starred Isaiah Washington. Ava mentioned Kathy and Ayoka in her speech for "Black Girls Rock". Also add Jessie Maple to female directors list. She is a pioneer! Excellent mentor. Thx so much!

  35. Ricky Riley This would be an interesting article topic. Why is it that highlighting black excellence raises so much objection? I guess because its not done enough so black people feel so overlooked that any attempt to look is never enough. But rather than attack you we should be helping and supporting you, right? I find that the less I respond to the nays and the more I focus on the work the less nays I hear.

  36. #RickeyRiley I think you did well with this list……some of these people are making ridiculous points…..i disagree with several of your choices….but I understand where you were going…….some of these directors have very suspect dramatic skills but they have hits….lots are of directors have amazing skill but have not found a project that puts them on the map….like having a world renowned voice but no hit record!