December 20, 2020

Screen Time: Week of December 21, 2020

From Dawn Porter's 'Vernon Jordan: Make It Plain.' Courtesy of LBJ Library. Photo: Ralph Barrera

Screen Time is your curated weekly guide to excellent documentaries and nonfiction programs that you can watch at home. 


Premiering December 22 on PBS is City Hall, the 45th film from the remarkable Frederick Wiseman, immerses audiences in the municipality of his hometown of Boston to illustrate a government taking care of its diverse citizens. Through his filmmaking, audiences come to realize how city government touches upon almost every aspect of their lives, acknowledging how necessary services like sanitation, veterans affairs, elder support, parks, licensing bureaus, recordkeeping, as well as a myriad of other activities that support the citizenry, are often taken for granted. 

Premiering December 28 on PBS, Vernon Jordan: Make It Plain, from Dawn Porter, explores Vernon Jordan’s rise from the segregated South, his tenure as the head of several civil rights organizations, and his current position as a partner at a corporate law firm and financial behemoth Lazard. Jordan is one of the most influential African American thought leaders in America.

Now streaming on EPIX, By Whatever Means Necessary: The Times of the Godfather of Harlem, a docuseries from Keith McQuirter, takes audiences on a musical journey that brings to life the excitement of 1960s Harlem, introduces the artists who dared to use their voices, instruments and lyrics to take a stand against systemic injustice and frames its impact on today.

Now streaming on The Criterion Channel, Afrofuturism is a series curated by Ashley Clark that takes the term Afrofuturism as a working framework for art about imagined and alternative Black experiences and applies it to cinema that stretches back to the 1970s, spanning animation, documentary and genre spectacle. The series is an exuberant celebration of Black creativity, resistance and freedom.

Now streaming on The New Yorker’s YouTube Channel is Lyn Goldfarb’s Eddy’s World, a short portrait of the filmmaker’s 98-year-old father, a working toy inventor who has created over 800 classic toys, including the iconic “chattering teeth.” Now living and thriving in a retirement community, Eddy Goldfarb shares his philosophies of life, aging and creativity.