– Kazeem Kuteyi, staff

The month of February is a time to reflect on the past and focus on the future when it comes to issues surrounding race. From slavery to racism to inequality to segregation, there are many issues to discuss not only during Black History Month, but during every month of the year as well. Here are five films for you to watch.

The Help

Released in 2011, The Help is a film adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s novel of the same name. The film opened to a massive box office success generating over $205 million. The Help tells a riveting story about a young white woman, Eugenia Phelan, and her relationship with black maids during the civil rights era in the 1960s. Eugenia Phelan, a journalist played by Emma Stone, sets out to uncover the racism that these young, black maids face every day. Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. are figures that are generally associated with black history, but The Help sheds a more intimate light on what it is actually like to live during an era of racism and injustice.

A Time to Kill

A Time to Kill, released in 1996, is an adaptation of a novel by John Grisham. The film starts with characters Billy Ray Cobb and Pete Willard raping and attempting to kill a 10-year-old black girl in Mississippi. These men are arrested and set to be tried, however the young girl’s father, Carl Hailey (played by Samuel L. Jackson), shoots and kills the rapists before the trial in fear that they may be acquitted due to racism and injustice in the area. The rest of the film focuses on a lawyer (played by Matthew McConaughey) defending Carl Hailey during his murder trial. This case attracts a lot of media attention and drives the Ku Klux Klan to organize revenge killings in protest against the acquittal of Carl Hailey. This is one of the best roles that both Samuel L. Jackson and Matthew McConaughey ever played in their careers.

The Color Purple

Directed by Steven Spielberg and released in 1985, The Color Purple is a brutally honest story about sexism, poverty and racism. The movie’s plot tells the story of Celie, an African American girl (played by a young Whoopi Goldberg) and her transformation of her self-worth. The movie is an adaptation of the book by Alice Walker. This year in Brantford an on-stage version of The Color Purple is coming to the Sanderson Centre on Feb. 14 and 15.

Amistad

Released in 1997, Amistad is another movie directed by Steven Spielberg starring Morgan Freeman, Matthew McConaughey and Djimon Hounsou. The movie is based on a true story about an uprising by captured African slaves. The story takes place aboard the ship La Amistad off the coast of Cuba on its way to the United States. Although the story is set in 1839, the themes of the movie are still prominent themes behind some of the revolts that take place today. The film was nominated for four Golden Globes, including best director and best picture. Anthony Hopkins was even nominated for an Academy Award in the category of “Best Actor in a Supporting Role” for his portrayal of John Quincy Adams.

Precious

This 2010 film is very riveting story about a girl named Precious. The movie depicts the everyday challenges she faces with her abusive mother, and the sexual advances from her own father, which results in two pregnancies for Precious. In her first film, Gabourey Sidibe does an outstanding job portraying the troubled character of Precious. Actress Mo’Nique also gave such a convincing performance of Precious’ mother that she won the Academy Award for “Best Actress in a Supporting Role” for 2010. This movie is perfect at explaining modern day race issues because it provides a snapshot of what can happen in the lives of minorities from low socio-economic backgrounds in contemporary America.