Feeling uninspired these days? Want to travel, but can’t? Eat Pray Love just not looking all that relatable to your demographic? Then check these out on DVD: four of my favorite black expat films, each one detailing an experience that I can relate to one way or another, from running away to running towards. The pickins might be slim when it comes to celluloid reflections of my particular, culture-specific type of experience, but what’s available ain’t exactly something to sneeze at.

Passing Strange (2008) – This phenomenal rock/soul Broadway production traces the true-to-life path of composer/playwright Stew, who left a place in middle-class LA in the early 80s to find “the real” in Amsterdam and Berlin.

Trailer:

The Josephine Baker Story (1991) – Lynn Whitfield turned in an Emmy-worthy performance in this HBO Original biopic about the first black (or any color, really) international superstar. An incredibly underrated film.

Trailer:

Mahogany (1975) – Proto-Beyonce Diana Ross stars as an aspiring fashion designer from South Side Chicago who makes it big first as a model in Rome, then as a designer, while being torn between her career and her love for fly politician Billy Dee Williams.

Trailer:

The Nephew (1998) – Hill Harper plays a mixed-race American kid who goes to Ireland in search of his relatives after his mother dies. As the Lone Negro, he’s at once cool and threatening. How many of us can relate to that?

Sorry, I couldn’t find a trailer, folks.

Netflix anyone? Any other suggestions (NOT Karate Kid neither!)?

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Funny, I have seen The Nephew (albeit on accident), and of course Josephine Baker…but have never seen Mahogany. Weird… Don’t they do a lot of musical like singing in this one? Maybe that’s why…LOL

    *Been a while since I have visited your blog. Prepare for multiple, random comments on old posts. 🙂

  2. not sure if it qualifies, but “the brother from outer space” is a great extra-terrestrial black expat film!!!! its on netflix instant and is a really well-conceived and well-executed film, especially for the time period. another wonderful one is “jump tomorrow” about a nigerian guy living in new york and his awkward interactions with other expats, including his extended nigerian family. i was thinking the other day about how i’d love to see a fillm based on marvin gaye’s time in belgium and/or any film depicting the black mini-exodus to western europe during the 60s and 70s. there are enough books about it for at least an adaptation, right?

  3. I just queued up 3 out of the 1st four suggestions; Passing Strange, Josephine Baker Story (My mother loved her and I think I’ve seen the movie before but very familiar with her work) and Mahogany via NetFlix “The Nephew” wasn’t available so looking forward to checking these out!

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