Skip to main content

Screen Time: Week of July 5, 2021

By Bedatri D. Choudhury

Black and white costumed New Orleanians celebrate Mardi Gras on the pedestal of a now-absent Confederate monument. From CJ Hunt and Darcy McKinnon’s 'The Neutral Ground.' Photo: Paavo Hanninen. Courtesy of 'POV.'

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

For your perfect post-July 4th screening, join comedian/journalist CJ Hunt as he sets out to document the New Orleans City Council’s vote to remove four Confederate monuments. His new documentary, The Neutral Ground, produced by Darcy McKinnon, took shape after Hunt’s shoot and the Council’s decision were halted by opposition and death threats. The film, playing on PBS’ POV, sets forth a conversation on racism, America and its foundational white supremacy.

If you’re feeling safe enough to venture out, don’t miss Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson’s Summer of Soul (produced by David Dinerstein, Robert Fyvolent, Joseph Patel) in a theater near you. The film, a historical document of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival that preceded Woodstock that summer, celebrates Black talent, joy, and the community they come together to create. You can also watch it on Hulu, if you’d rather stay home. 

Legendary soccer player Abby Wambach returns to ESPN with her series, Abby's Place. Starting July 7, with a little help from her friends—including Landon Donovan, Los Angeles Galaxy star Javier "Chicharito" Hernández, Brandi Chastain, Julie Foudy, Briana Scurry and Orlando Pride star Ashlyn Harris—Wambach will tour the world visiting stadiums of historical importance and telling the viewers why soccer, or "football," as it is known everywhere but the USA, is the most beautiful game ever. 

To get into the mood for the 2021 Summer Olympic Games, head over to the Criterion Channel and watch Tancred Ibsen’s 1952 documentary, The VI Olympic Winter Games, Oslo 1952. A visual time capsule, Ibsen’s film captures the utmost competition and the camaraderie the community of sportspeople shared back in 1952.

Lest we forget the racist nature of some of the Olympics regulations, Göran Olsson’s The Black Power Mixtape 1967–1975, also on the Criterion Channel, reminds us of the social revolution brought forth by the Black Power movement. Leaders like Stokely Carmichael, Bobby Seale, Angela Davis and Eldridge Cleaver (complemented by Questlove and Om’Mas Keith’s music) come together to build a narrative that is "an exhilarating, unprecedented account of an American revolution."

As a part of its virtual cinema lineup, the Museum of Modern Art is presenting the films of Cameroonian filmmaker Rosine Mbakam. Through July 20, you can watch Mbakam’s latest work, Delphine’s Prayers, along with some of her earlier documentary films that "reflect intergenerational and diasporic experiences" as she "makes a place for intimacy and distance through meticulously staged encounters in spaces shared by women in domestic or social settings."

On July 12, watch Landfall (directed by Cecilia Aldarondo, produced by Ines Hoffman Kanna) as it premieres on PBS’ POV. Set in post-Hurricane María Puerto Rico, Landfall looks at protests that forced the governor to resign in 2019, and documents the resistance mounted by everyday Puerto Ricans grappling with a failing state machinery and the aftermaths of a deadly natural disaster.