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Originally published on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, 2015 at 8:00 AM

Film Guide

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (2011)

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 mobilizes a treasure trove of 16mm material shot by Swedish journalists who came to the US drawn by stories of urban unrest and revolution. Gaining access to many of the leaders of the Black Power Movement-Stokely Carmichael, Bobby Seale, Angela Davis and Eldridge Cleaver among them-the filmmakers captured them in intimate moments and remarkably unguarded interviews.

Cruel and Unusual (2006)

Imagine being a woman in a men's prison. For many individuals, this is a grim reality because the U.S. prison system decides where to place inmates based on their genitalia, not their gender identity. This award-winning documentary makes an unflinching examination of transgender women in men's prisons. Ashley, Linda, Anna, Yolanda and Ophelia describe their experiences undergoing inhumane and humiliating treatment including rape, violence, solitary confinement and denial of medial care.

Let the Fire Burn (2013)

In the astonishingly gripping Let the Fire Burn, director Jason Osder has crafted that rarest of cinematic objects: a found-footage film that unfurls with the tension of a great thriller. On May 13, 1985, a longtime feud between the city of Philadelphia and controversial radical urban group MOVE came to a deadly climax. By order of local authorities, police dropped military-grade explosives onto a MOVE-occupied rowhouse. TV cameras captured the conflagration that quickly escalated-and resulted in the tragic deaths of eleven people (including five children) and the destruction of 61 homes. It was only later discovered that authorities decided to "...let the fire burn." Using only archival news coverage and interviews, first-time filmmaker Osder has brought to life one of the most tumultuous and largely forgotten clashes between government and citizens in modern American history.

The House I live In (2012)

Why We Fight director Eugene Jarecki shifts his focus from the military industrial complex to the War on Drugs in this documentary exploring the risks that prohibition poses to freedom, and the tragedy of addicts being treated as criminals. In the four decades since the War on Drugs commenced, over 45 millions of addicts have been arrested - and for each one jailed, another family is destroyed. Meanwhile, the prisons in America are growing overcrowded with non-violent criminals, and illegal drugs are still being sold in schoolyards. By examining just where it all went wrong, Jarecki reveals that a solution is possible if we can just find it in ourselves to be compassionate, and see past the decades of paranoia and propaganda.

Malcolm X (1992)

Autobiographical epic story of the controversial and influential Black Nationalist leader, from his early life and career as a small-time gangster, to his ministry as a member of the Nation of Islam. Macolm X is important in understanding the complications of being a black leader in a white supremacist nation.

Unnatural Causes (2008)

This is a story about health, but it’s not about doctors or drugs. It’s about why some of us get sicker more often and die sooner and what causes us to fall ill in the first place. Unnatural Causes criss-crosses the country investigating the stories and findings that are shaking up conventional notions about what makes us healthy or sick. It turns out there’s much more to our well-being than genes, behaviors and medical care. The social, economic, and physical environments in which we are born, live and work profoundly affect our longevity and health – as much as smoking, diet and exercise.

The series sheds light on mounting evidence of how lack of access to power and resources can get under the skin and disrupt human biology as surely as germs and viruses. It also reveals a health gradient tied to wealth: those at the top of the class pyramid average longer, healthier lives, while those at the bottom are the most dis-empowered, get sicker more often and die sooner.