More than half a century into the age of color, filmmakers still opt for black and white with specific purposes. Some of the finest films of the 21st century are black and white - from The Artist (2011) to Ida (2013) to Roma (2018). Bong Joon Ho even recently released an alternative black and white version of his history-making Oscar winner Parasite. Black and white cinematography is here to stay and here are 8 Filmhub titles that champion it.
Directed by Marcus Flemmings / Drama / 2017 / 57 mins / United Kingdom
Synopsis: During the 2011 London Riots and the killing of Mark Duggan, ex-boxer, Stally, must fight an old friend in order to save his life after a drug deal goes wrong.
What makes it special: Set against the backdrop of a real event, Flemmings’s vigorous and enchanting film summons the tropes of all the classic boxer films and crime noirs and interrogates the racial tensions in the UK. Centered in its bleak imagery is a kinetic leading performance from Adam J. Bernard, who’s in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as the stunt double for John Boyega.
Directed by Michael DiBiasio-Ornelas / Drama/Romance / 2021 / 118 mins / United States
Synopsis: Chronic insomniacs Zach and Sophia wander the pre-dawn streets of New York City on an impromptu first date.
What makes it special: A gentle delight named “Best U.S. Feature” by the New York Independent Cinema Awards. To make a “walk-and-talk” film seem effortless is in fact a tall order only achieved by the very best. The Sleepless is as authentic and engaging as the prototypes of the micro-genre - namely The Before Trilogy.
We Feel Fine
Directed by Adam Luxton / Drama / 2012 / 93 mins / New Zealand
Synopsis: A web of chance transactions and shared concerns among an incongruent group of Aucklanders.
What makes it special: A criminally underappreciated gem and an essential piece of New Zealand cinema in the 21st century that remains fresh and unique after almost a decade. No words summarize it better than those by the filmmakers themselves: “A thoughtful and often funny film about people stuck in a kind of hesitation about what to do with themselves, framed against an irreverent view of Auckland as a trashy, billboard infested motorway junction.”
Directed by Niko von Glasow / Drama / 1990 / 41 mins / Poland
Synopsis: A female photographer from Western Europe drives through Poland and stops in a village. By chance, her eye is caught by the arrival of a wedding party. This marks the point of departure for several stories that unfold during the course of the wedding.
What makes it special: One of Filmhub’s best-kept secrets, German auteur Niko von Glasow’s first film made following his studies at the National Film School in Łódź - whose alumni include Kieślowskia and Wajda, is an instant classic about young love and revenge in late-communist Poland.
Directed by Chico Pereira / Drama / 2012 / 77 mins / United Kingdom
Synopsis: After working in the mercury mines of Almadén, Spain, Pablo has already suffered 5 heart attacks. His only hope for survival now is to quit smoking.
What makes it special: An award winner at International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam and DOKLeipzig. Melancholic and heart-warming at the same time, Chico Pereira’s unvarnished portrayal of Pablo’s everyday life signifies something larger and universal - decaying mining towns and their aging communities.
Directed by Vladan Nikolic / Drama / 2014 / 83 mins / United States
Synopsis: Based on true stories, Allure tells the stories of five women in New York, who come from five very different countries. Each one struggles to overcome her personal conflict, set against the Occupy Wall Street movements of 2011.
What makes it special: A fitting time to revisit professor/director Vladan Nikolic’s film as Occupy Wall Street turns 10. Allure is a largely improved group portrait that provides a microscopic look at immigrant uncertainty. By shooting scenes on the streets with real protests in the background, it’s also able to preserve a significant piece of history.
House of Children
Directed by Daniel Drema / Documentary / 2020 / 60 mins / United Kingdom
Synopsis: Conversations at a Zimbabwean children’s home. The children exuberate so much innocence and courage… that it is hard not to feel like that you’re in the room with them or in the stories themselves.
What makes it special: A unique approach to a subject matter that is usually riddled with negative stereotypes. “Intimate and refreshingly aimless” - as one review puts it, Drema’s camera seeks merely to amplify and dignify.
Where to stream it: Tubi
Down, But Not Out!
Directed by Miguel Gaudencio / Documentary / 2014 / 68 mins / Poland
Synopsis: The 24 hours of four amateur women boxers as they step for the first time into the ring.
What makes it special: Another great documentary that simply allows the audience to see and experience for themselves. Director/cinematographer Miguel Gaudencio is a master in creating tension with shots and edits, and the raw energy he captured is so infectious you don’t even need the subtitles.