Notable Black Directors

by johndavies007 | created - 03 Feb 2018 | updated - 10 months ago | Public

In progress

1. John Akomfrah

Director | The Nine Muses

Ghana born John Akomfrah is known for his experimental documentaries and video installations on the subjects of race, migration, and slavery in the encounters between European colonisers and African subjects.In the 1980s working in London, he helped found the Black Audio Film Collective and later ...

2. Richard Ayoade

Writer | Submarine

Richard Ellef Ayoade was born in Hammersmith, and grew up in Suffolk, in England, the son of a Norwegian mother, Dagny Amalie (Baassuik), and a Nigerian father, Layide Ade Laditi Ayoade. He studied Law at Cambridge university, and followed in the footsteps of British Comedy legends like Monty ...

3. St. Clair Bourne

Director | John Henrik Clarke: A Great and Mighty Walk

St. Clair Bourne was born on February 16, 1943 in New York City, New York, USA as St. Clair Cecil Bourne. He was a producer and director, known for John Henrik Clarke: A Great and Mighty Walk (1996), American Masters (1985) and Something to Build On (1971). He was married to Linda Miller and Sylvia...

4. Charles Burnett

Director | Killer of Sheep

Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi on April 13, 1944, Charles Burnett moved with his family to the Watts area of Los Angeles at an early age. He describes the community of having a robust mythical connection with the South as a result of having so many Southern transplants, an atmosphere which has ...

5. Souleymane Cissé

Director | Yeelen

Souleymane Cissé was born on April 21, 1940 in Bamako, Mali. He is a director and writer, known for Brightness (1987), Work (1978) and The Wind (1982).

6. Julie Dash

Director | Daughters of the Dust

Julie Dash was born on October 22, 1952 in Queens, New York, USA. She is a director and producer, known for Daughters of the Dust (1991), The Rosa Parks Story (2002) and Funny Valentines (1999).

7. Ossie Davis

Actor | Do the Right Thing

Ossie Davis was born on December 18, 1917 in Cogdell, Georgia, USA as Raiford Chatman Davis. He was an actor and writer, known for Do the Right Thing (1989), Bubba Ho-Tep (2002) and Grumpy Old Men (1993). He was married to Ruby Dee. He died on February 4, 2005 in Miami Beach, Florida, USA.

8. Ivan Dixon

Director | The Spook Who Sat by the Door

Ivan Dixon, was a handsome, mustachioed African-American actor and director who carried a strong, serious nature about his solid frame, initially earned attention on the ground-breaking stage and film with pronounced themes of social and racial relevance. He would become better known, however, for ...

9. Bill Duke

Actor | Predator

Duke Media Entertainment, led by actor, director, producer, writer and humanitarian, Bill Duke, is dedicated to bringing quality Edutainment to audiences around the globe. Formerly Yagya Productions, Duke Media has successfully produced critically acclaimed film and television content for more than...

10. Ava DuVernay

Producer | Selma

A director, producer, writer, marketer and film distributor, Ava DuVernay made her feature film debut with the documentary This in the Life (2008), a history on hip hop movement that flourished in Los Angeles in the 1990's. This was followed by series of television music documentaries which ...

11. Ezra Edelman

Producer | O.J.: Made in America

Ezra Edelman is a producer and director, known for O.J.: Made in America (2016), Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals (2010) and Brooklyn Dodgers: The Ghosts of Flatbush (2007).

13. Safi Faye

Director | Mossane

Safi Faye was born on November 22, 1943 in Dakar, Senegal. She is a director and actress, known for Mossane (1996), Kaddu Beykat (1976) and Fad'jal (1979).

14. Carl Franklin

Director | Out of Time

Carl Franklin studied history and dramatic arts at UC Berkeley. After several years as a television actor with guest shots, roles in TV movies, miniseries, and appearing as a regular on a few unsuccessful series, he returned to school and received his master's degree in directing from the American ...

15. Haile Gerima

Director | Teza

Halie Gerima arrived in the United States from his native Gondar, Ethiopia, to study acting and directing at the Goodman Theater in Chicago, Illinois. He later transferred to the Theater Department at UCLA where he completed the Master's Program in Film. Afterward, he relocated to Washington, DC, ...

16. Flora Gomes

Director | Nha fala

Flora Gomes was born on December 31, 1949 in Cadique, Guinea-Bissau as Florentino Gomes. He is a director and writer, known for My Voice My Voice (2002), The Blue Eyes of Yonta (1992) and Mortu Nega (1988).

17. Mahamat-Saleh Haroun

Director | Daratt

Mahamat-Saleh Haroun was born in 1961 in Abéché, Chad. He is a director and writer, known for Dry Season (2006), A Screaming Man (2010) and Abouna (2002).

18. Med Hondo

Director | Sarraounia

Med Hondo was born on May 4, 1936 in Atar, Mauritania as Abid Mohamed Medoun Hondo. He was an actor and director, known for Sarraounia (1986), Oh, Sun (1967) and Les Bicots-Nègres vos voisins (1974). He died on March 2, 2019 in Paris, France.

19. Barry Jenkins

Director | If Beale Street Could Talk

Barry Jenkins was born on November 19, 1979 in Miami, Florida, USA. He is a director and writer, known for If Beale Street Could Talk (2018), Moonlight (2016) and Medicine for Melancholy (2008).

20. Isaac Julien

Director | Looking for Langston

Isaac Julien was born in February 1960 in London, England. He is a director and writer, known for Looking for Langston (1989), Derek (2008) and Young Soul Rebels (1991).

21. Gaston Kaboré

Director | Zan Boko

Kabore started out as a history student at the Centre d'Etudes Superieures d'Histoire d'Ouagadougou and continued his studies in Paris where he received an MA. During his studies he became interested in how Africa was portrayed abroad, which then led him, in 1974, to study cinematography at the ...

22. Charles Lane

Actor | Sidewalk Stories

Charles Lane, with a host of awards and credits to his name, is a force to be reckoned with. Born in New York's South Bronx in 1953 and inspired by Hitchcock films, Lane knew early in his childhood what his true calling was. His passion for film transpired when while in junior high he made his ...

23. Spike Lee

Director | Do the Right Thing

Spike Lee was born Shelton Jackson Lee on March 20, 1957, in Atlanta, Georgia. At a very young age, he moved from pre-civil rights Georgia, to Brooklyn, New York. Lee came from artistic, education-grounded background; his father was a jazz musician, and his mother, a schoolteacher. He attended ...

24. Kasi Lemmons

Actress | The Silence of the Lambs

Kasi Lemmons was born on February 24, 1961 in St. Louis, Missouri, USA as Karen Lemmons. She is an actress, known for The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Candyman (1992) and Hard Target (1993). She has been married to Vondie Curtis-Hall since 1995. They have two children.

25. Sarah Maldoror

Director | Sambizanga

Sarah Maldoror was born in 1938 in Gers, France as Sarah Durados. She is a director and writer, known for Sambizanga (1972), Des fusils pour Banta (1970) and Aimé Césaire, le masque de mots (1987).

26. Djibril Diop Mambéty

Director | Touki Bouki

Born the son of a Muslim cleric in Colobane, near Dakar, Senegal, Djibril Diop Mambéty received no formal training in filmmaking. He experimented with theater, but in 1968, he was asked to leave an avant-garde theater group. Shortly thereafter, he made his first film short called Badou Boy (1970), ...

27. Steve McQueen

Director | 12 Years a Slave

Steve McQueen was born on October 9, 1969 in London, England as Steve Rodney McQueen. He is a director and writer, known for 12 Years a Slave (2013), Shame (2011) and Hunger (2008). He is married to Bianca Stigter. They have two children.

28. Oscar Micheaux

Writer | Within Our Gates

Oscar Micheaux, the first African-American to produce a feature-length film (The Homesteader (1919)) and a sound feature-length film (The Exile (1931)), is not only a major figure in American film for these milestones, but because his oeuvre is a window into the American history and psyche ...

29. Tracey Moffatt

Director | Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy

Tracey Moffatt was born on November 12, 1960 in Brisbane, Australia. She is a director and writer, known for Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy (1990), Bedevil (1993) and Moodeitj Yorgas (1988).

31. Rungano Nyoni

Writer | Mwansa the Great

Directors born in Zambia and willing to bear witness on this country are something of a rarity. This is nonetheless the case of Rungano Nyoni, a young woman whose native town is Lusaka although she did not stay there long. She was indeed still a little girl when she emigrated to Great Britain with ...

32. Idrissa Ouedraogo

Director | Yaaba

Idrissa Ouedraogo was born on January 21, 1954 in Banfora, Upper Volta. He was a director and writer, known for Yaaba (1989), The Law (1990) and Samba Traoré (1992). He died on February 18, 2018 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

33. Euzhan Palcy

Director | Rue cases nègres

Euzhan Palcy was born on January 13, 1958 in Martinique, France. She is a director and writer, known for Black Shack Alley (1983), Siméon (1992) and A Dry White Season (1989).

34. Gordon Parks

Director | The Learning Tree

The pre-eminent American photojournalist of sub-Saharan descent. An acclaimed photographer for Life magazine from the late 40s through late 60s, he turned to directing films, his second of which, the blaxploitation movie Shaft (1971), achieved success at the box office. In 1989 his first film ...

35. Gordon Parks Jr.

Director | Aaron Loves Angela

Gordon Parks Jr. was born as Gordon Roger Parks in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, the son of photographer and filmmaker Gordon Alexander Parks and Sally Alvis. He is best remembered for the successful if controversial crime film "Super Fly" (1972). He worked as a musician and photographer, early on ...

36. Raoul Peck

Director | I Am Not Your Negro

Raoul Peck was born in 1953 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He is a director and writer, known for I Am Not Your Negro (2016), Lumumba (2000) and Lumumba: La mort du prophète (1990).

37. Jordan Peele

Writer | Get Out

Jordan Haworth Peele attended Sarah Lawrence College as a member of the class of 2001. His mother is white and his father is black. Jordan is married to comedian Chelsea Peretti, with whom he has a son.

He is known for co-writing and starring in the comedy Keanu (2016), opposite his close friend ...

38. Sidney Poitier

Actor | In the Heat of the Night

A native of Cat Island, The Bahamas (although born, two months prematurely, in Miami during a visit by his parents), Poitier grew up in poverty as the son of farmers Evelyn (nee Outten) and Reginald James Poitier, who also drove a cab. He had little formal education and at the age of 15 was sent to...

39. Dee Rees

Director | Mudbound

Writer/Director Dee Rees is an alumna of New York University's graduate film program and a Sundance Screenwriting & Directing Lab Fellow.

In 2018, Dee became the first Black woman nominated for an Oscar in the Best Adapted Screenplay category for her highly-acclaimed film Mudbound (2017). The film, ...

40. Marlon Riggs

Director | Color Adjustment

Marlon Riggs was born on February 3, 1957 in Texas, USA. He was a director and producer, known for Color Adjustment (1992), Black Is... Black Ain't (1994) and Tongues Untied (1989). He died on April 5, 1994 in Oakland, California, USA.

41. Ousmane Sembene

Director | Moolaadé

The first film director from an African country to achieve international recognition, Ousmane Sembene remains the major figure in the rise of an independent post-colonial African cinema. Sembene's roots were not, as might be expected, in the educated élite. After working as a mechanic and ...

42. John Singleton

Writer | Boyz n the Hood

Son of Danny Singleton, a mortgage broker, and Sheila Ward, a pharmaceutical company sales executive, and raised in separate households by his unmarried parents, John Singleton attended the Film Writing Program at USC, after graduating from high school in 1986. While studying there, he won three ...

43. Abderrahmane Sissako

Director | Timbuktu

Abderrahmane Sissako was born on October 13, 1961 in Kiffa, Mauritania. He is a director and writer, known for Timbuktu (2014), Life on Earth (1998) and Waiting for Happiness (2002).

44. Cheick Oumar Sissoko

Director | Guimba, un tyran une époque

Born in 1945 in San (in Ségou, the 4th region of Mali). Has studied filmmaking at the Ecole Nationale Louis Lumière (National School Louis Lumière), Paris. Worked as filmaker at the Centre National de Production Cinématographique (CNPC) in Mali, when he returned. Has created, with other young ...

45. Jean-Marie Téno

Director | Clando

Jean-Marie Teno, Africa's preeminent documentary filmmaker, has been producing and directing films on the colonial and post-colonial history of Africa for over twenty years. Films by Jean-Marie Teno have been honored at festivals worldwide: Berlin, Toronto, Yamagata, Cinema du Reel, Visions du Reel...

46. Melvin Van Peebles

Actor | The Shining

Melvin Van Peebles was born on August 21, 1932 in Chicago, Illinois, USA. He is an actor and writer, known for The Shining (1997), Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971) and Bellyful (2000).

47. Denzel Washington

Actor | Fences

Denzel Hayes Washington, Jr. was born on December 28, 1954 in Mount Vernon, New York. He is the middle of three children of a beautician mother, Lennis, from Georgia, and a Pentecostal minister father, Denzel Washington, Sr., from Virginia. After graduating from high school, Denzel enrolled at ...



Recently Viewed