Yes, Spike Lee. This director (as well as writer and actor) is one of the best-known and -lauded filmmakers (Black or otherwise) of our time, and for good reason. But it's high time movie lovers expanded their knowledge beyond Lee, because there's a deep bench of talented directors who've made films we've loved and have yet to discover. Here are 11 moviemakers you should put in your streaming queue — from up-and-comers to their mighty fine mentors.
Like many working filmmakers of color, Carl Franklin, 71, has spent much of the last two decades plying his craft in television. But 1991's crime drama One False Move garnered an Indie Spirit Award and critical accolades, and the 1995 adaptation of Walter Mosley's Devil in a Blue Dress — starring Denzel Washington as private eye Easy Rawlins — unforgettably introduced us to actor Don Cheadle, who roars as Easy's friend Mouse.
Carl Franklin Must Watches:
The onetime movie publicist has become a mini-mogul with major purpose — at home in movie theaters (Oscar-nominated Selma) or streaming (Emmy-winning miniseries When They See Us). Like Spike Lee, DuVernay is dedicated to bringing other filmmakers along for the ride, for example by hiring female directors for her Oprah-supported OWN series, Queen Sugar.
Ava DuVernay Must Watches:
When They See Us: Netflix
RELATED: How cool is Ava DuVernay? Answer: Very cool. Get to know her better (and meet a dozen more women making waves in filmmaking) on AARP's must-read list, here: 13 Female Directors You Should Discover Right Now
The pup of the list, the 20-year-old Youmans is among the gifted filmmakers DuVernay champions. Her company, Array, distributed his debut, Burning Cane, an elegiac drama that tells the story of a woman of faith whose son is faltering and a rural minister who's grappling with his own failings. The film took home big awards at the Tribeca Film Festival: best feature, best cinematography, and best actor for Wendell Pierce (Treme) as the tippling pastor. Youmans may be just starting out, but what promise and what a mentor.