There are treats galore this week, especially for those with an ear for history and an appreciation for the written and spoken word. As that old bumper sticker might read today, “Think globally, watch locally.”
Stockton On My Mind, 2020
Michael Tubbs was the first African American to be elected mayor of nearby Stockton, and its youngest: He was 26 on Election Day 2016. Marc Levin’s verité documentary of Tubbs’ first term was primed to premiere in April at the Tribeca Film Festival (with an HBO broadcast down the road) before the coronavirus canceled the NYC bash. Now anyone can buy a ticket to watch it online for just one day (Thursday, June 18), accompanied by an interview with the subject and director, as part of the virtual AFI Docs Film Festival in Washington, D.C.
I Am Not Your Negro, 2016
Kanopy, Amazon Prime Video
James Baldwin had as clear a view of his present and our future as anyone, but I don’t know if he imagined a 26-year-old black mayor of a U.S. city. If you still haven’t seen Raoul Peck’s brilliantly imagined mosaic of Baldwin’s unfinished book, Remember This House, it is essential viewing. And not just in the present moment, because the wisdom and wit of one of the greatest public intellectuals in American history will always be relevant.
Terrence McNally: Every Act of Life, 2018
In honor of Pride month, and in remembrance of the Tony Award-winning playwright of Love! Valour! Compassion! (and numerous other splendid works informed by the AIDS epidemic) who died of COVID-19, PBS is streaming this candid and affecting American Masters portrait through Aug. 31. Filmmaker Jeff Kaufman joins actors André De Shields, John Glover and Benjamin Hickey to talk about McNally’s gutsy career on Wednesday, Aug. 17 at 5pm PDT on Ovee.
Mae West: Dirty Blonde, 2020
The immortal Brooklyn-born vaudevillian, playwright, actress, screenwriter, comedian and provocateur Mae West was revolutionary in her own right. She took on censors, critics, studio execs and men of every stripe in the course of a brilliant career that, not incidentally, was built on the belief that women could make their own choices in and out of bed. This new American Masters profile premieres Tuesday, June 16 at 8pm on KQED (and repeats Saturday, June 20 at 9pm on KQED World).