10 Best Black Filmmakers

Friday, January 21 by Twynna Elpmertz

Any real movie junkie will recognize the names of these 10 best Black filmmakers of all time, and those less familiar with the folks behind the screen will at least recognize the names of the films they made. If there is anyone or any movie on this last that you have not heard of, it is time for a trip to the video store. These ten people have created some of Hollywood’s most loved and most respected movies.

  1. Spike Lee. In the past 20 years, Spike Lee has made more films than any other director, black or white, except Woody Allen. Founder of his own production company called 40 Acres and A Mule, Lee is perhaps most known for his Oscar-nominated 1989 film, "Do the Right Thing".
  2. Oscar Micheaux. You have probably never heard of him, but this Black film-making pioneer from Illinois was the first Black man to make his own films. He made black and white silent films, including "The Homesteader" and "Body and Soul", and even started his own production company in 1919.
  3. Julie Dash. In 1992, Dash became the first Black woman to direct a movie that played in mainstream theaters with "Daughters of the Dust".
  4. F. Gary Gray. Before directing feature films, Gray did music videos for superstars like Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige and Dr. Dre. This New Yorker debuted on the full-length film scene with "Friday". He has since directed "Set It Off," "The Negotiator," "The Italian Job" and "Be Cool," and has worked with the likes of Ice Cube, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Vivica A. Fox.
  5. Lee Daniels. Working with Prince, Daniels first showed up in show biz working on "Under the Cherry Moon" and "Purple Rain," but did not hit the big time until 2001 when he produced "Monster's Ball." The Oscar Halle Berry won from the film was the first best actress Oscar ever given to a Black woman. Since then, Daniels has directed "Shadowboxer" and "Push."
  6. George Tillman, Jr. This Black filmmaker has directed both movies and television series. Tillman’s productions have included "Soul Food," "Soul Food: the Series," "Men of Honor," the "Barbershop" movies and "Notorious."
  7. John Singleton. This man is familiar with the spotlight. Native to LA, Singleton went to film school at USC before debuting in Hollywood in 1991 with "Boyz N the Hood." The film got him both a best screenplay and best director Academy Awards nomination, the latter of which making him the youngest recipient of such a nomination. Most recently, Singleton has directed "Poetic Justice," "Higher Learning," "2 Fast 2 Furious" and "Four Brothers".
  8. Antoine Fuqua. Just like Lee Daniels, Fuqua made his directing debut in music videos. Since then, the movies he has directed include "The Replacement Killers" and Denzel Washington’s "Training Day".
  9. Gina Prince-Bythewood. Writing for "A Different World" and "Felicity" before debuting as a director, Prince-Bythewood is married to writer and director Reggie Rock Bythewood. Prince-Bythewood is best known for her work as director on the film adaptation of the novel "The Secret Life of Bees," starring Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning and Alicia Keys.
  10. Maurice Jamal. This filmmakers first years in the entertainment industry were as a writer for "Chappelle’s Show." Later, he took to feature films with the intention of expressing the experience of being both Black and gay. His first film was "Ski Trip," but he did not hit the big time until his 2007 film "Dirty Laundry."
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