Local Cinema

Essay: 5 Movies Set in Houston to Watch for Black History Month

From the romance of Jason's Lyric, to the racial injustice explored in The 24th, these films will teach you something about Space City.

By Craig D. Lindsey

The 24th (2020), is a historical drama that follows the all-Black (and all-fed up) 24th Infantry Regiment as one racist incident too many makes them set off the Houston Riot of 1917.

Black History Month is here, and I want to give a special shout-out to the films made for the Black community, by the Black community, and about individuals that are set or filmed in Houston. Oh sure, people know about made-in-Houston classics like Terms of Endearment,  Urban Cowboy, and Full Moon in Blue Water (OK, maybe you don’t know about that one). But there are quite a few movies made by or for a community that calls Space City home.

Here’s the list: 

Together Brothers (1974) – Do you want to see how Galveston was in the ‘70s? Well, look no further than this inner-city drama about a young boy who’s a witness to the murder of a Black police officer. It’s then up to the boy’s older brother, the leader of a gang of Black and Latino youths, to protect him from the killers. If that doesn’t pique your interest, the movie is scored by none other than Barry White (I have it on vinyl!).  Platform, Amazon.

Sugar Hill (1974) – As we mentioned last October, not only is this Blaxploitation horror show – about a scorned woman who gets a zombie army to exact vengeance on gangsters who offed her man – a spooky selection to watch during the Halloween season. It’s also a movie made in and around Houston. Thanks to this low-budget freakout, you can see zombies roaming around such familiar areas as The Heights. Platforms,  AMC +, Vudu.

 

Jason’s Lyric (1994)Houston’s Third Ward is the setting for this urban love story. House of Payne star Allen Payne plays a young man who finds young love with a young lady (Jada Pinkett Smith). But his tortured past and his self-destructive brother (Bokeem Woodbine) keep preventing him from fully immersing in joyful love – we’re talking rolling-in-the-grass kind of love – with that special someone.. Platforms, HBO MAX, Vudu.

 

Fifth Ward (1997)Local filmmaker Greg Carter has always intended to make Black films right here in H-Town. This all started with his debut film (where I was an extra, BTW), about a Black man from the titular neighborhood on a vengeance mission to get the man who killed his brother. Carter returned to the area to make a TV series/sequel that ran for two seasons on the Urban Movie Channel. Platform, AllBlk


The 24th (2020) – Although this movie (which played the Houston Cinema Arts Festival in 2020) was shot in North Carolina, it goes back to the early 20th century to tell the story of the mutiny that rocked Houston. It follows the all-Black (and all-fed up) 24th Infantry Regiment as one racist incident too many makes them set off the Houston Riot of 1917, where they marched to Houston and killed eleven civilians and five police officers. Platforms, Starz, DirecTV, Amazon, YouTube.

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