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The Loss of Scary Films October Built

Some Overlooked Horror Films to Check Out This Holiday Season. 7 November 2022,

For over a hundred years now horror films have touched the lives of people all over the world. No matter the place or background, people are drawn towards these visual stories that are meant to touch their deepest fears. For me in particular, horror films became a fun outlet that stretched its legs most in the month of October. Here in the United States we celebrate Halloween on October 31st, and all things spooky and macabre are brought forth for the duration of the month. This used to be the main season during which I could watch horror movies, due to the fact they were being shown on TV for the holiday season. Whatever I watched or found was solely based on what the TV channels had the rights to play each year. If they didn’t play a particular movie, I was out of luck.

Nowadays we have all sorts of streaming services that allow us to have instant access to all kinds of films. And although this is quite convenient, it still depends on the streaming service having the rights to play them. How do they decide what gets played and what doesn’t? It’s all about popularity. The most popular films always show up each year, being re-binged and introduced to new generations. So, what happens to all of those films that aren’t as popular but are still amazing? They end up being lost to time. Most can still be found on DVD, but even today those DVDs are in lower and lower demand. This cold, dark season, Media Services would like to highlight the horror films in our collection that are very hard to get hold of elsewhere. We want to do our part to ensure that their value and viewership are not lost to time.

Dead Alive, aka. Braindead (1992)

Picture of a woman pulling her mouth and lips wide open to show a small, rotting skull with intact eyeballs inside. The movie title, "Dead Alive," appears below the image in fluorescent in a creepy, horror-film-type font.
Dead Alive. 7 November 2022,

Dead Alive is a 1992 New Zealand film made by Peter Jackson, before he became internationally famous as the director of the Lord of The Rings trilogy. In New Zealand, it was released under the title Braindead, but due to existence in the US of a film with a similar title, it was changed to Dead Alive for release here. The film is one of the goriest ever created and was just recently added to our collection. The plot follows an adult “mama’s boy” character who is brought together by fate with the love of his life. However, things get complicated when his overbearing mother is bitten by a rat-monkey with a very sinister disease.

Suspiria (1977)

The title, "Suspiria," is printed in white on a black background in the lower third of the image. The letters are flowing and uneven, as though they are floating in the air like a whisper. The upper half of the image contains a small picture, in profile, of a naked person standing with blood dripping down the front of their body and forming a large pool that drips down toward the film title below.
Suspiria. 7 November 2022,

Suspiria is a horror film made by famous Italian director Dario Argento. Although a remake of the title has recently released, the original is much harder to find. The film is not only very creepy with its constant whispering soundtrack, but it also has some of the most stunning lighting, cinematography, and set design. The film follows a young woman who travels overseas to a very famous German ballet school. Things become obviously wrong, however, once the school becomes connected to a series of grisly murders.

Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

The title, "Cannibal Holocaust," appears in capital letters in the upper third of the image. Each letter is white at the top but fades to blood red near the bottom and appears to drip down the image. Below the title is the black-and-white image of a woman laying on the ground, a man standing above her and reaching his arms up to the sky.
Cannibal Holocaust. 7 November 2022,

Cannibal Holocaust is a 1980 Italian Horror film by Ruggero Deodato. The film’s lack of availability is most likely due to its controversy upon release. The gory effects used in the movie were so appalling at the time that the director himself was put on trial, as it was believed that the murders of the characters were in fact real. The actors themselves had to come forward just to prove they were still living, but the film was still widely banned. The plot follows a professor out in the jungle who stumbles upon found footage of a group of people who were attacked by cannibals.

Don’t Look Now (1973)

The actors Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie appear in an ornately framed black and white photo, with blood dripping out of the bottom of the frame and pooling on the surface beneath it. At the top of the image, the words "Pass the warning." are printed in white, while below the actors' names and the title "Don't Look Now" are superimposed over the blood pool.
Don’t Look Now. 7 November 2022,

Don’t Look Now is a 1973 American horror film that features Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie in the lead roles. It’s well known for its excellent use of editing that not only pushes the narrative but also makes the viewer question reality. Although the film was critically praised, the film is often lost in the mix of 70s-era films trying to capitalize on Alfred Hitchcock’s style. The plot follows a husband and wife who try to get a fresh start after the death of their daughter. However, Donald Sutherland’s character quickly starts to witness strange instances where it seems that she may be alive after all.

Student blogger Andrew Hartman has worked at Media Services since December of 2021. He is currently studying Cinematic Arts at the IU Media School, and is specializing in screenwriting and the horror genre.

Media from Around the World: Literacy, Democracy, and Access

Part Two: Europe, Asia, Australia, Mexico, and Central and South America

This is the second installment of our curated collection of media programs from many different world regions, in honor of International Literacy Day. See Part One here.

Mexico; Central America; South America

Amores Perros (Mexico)

In the top third and bottom third of the image are movie quotes and information. In the center is the title, Amores Perros, and above that are three faces all in semi-profile, with the left side of the face visible, in a saturated reddish-orange light.
Amores Perros. 29 September 2022,

Seemingly inconsequential events line up until a tragic car accident brings three different narratives together to create this movie. This emotional film centered on loss and regret is considered one of the best by Alejandro González Iñárritu.1

The Sacred Science (Peru)

In the top third and bottom third of the image are the film title "The Scared Science", awards the film has won, and other film information. The background image shows a hut-type structure nestled in trees with a partly cloudy blue sky above.
The Sacred Science. 29 September 2022,

This documentary from Peru explores the healing powers of indigenous plants as well as the spiritual practices of Amazon medicine men. Eight people travel to the Amazon in hope of finding a cure for their illness based on traditional medicine.2

The Color of Passion (Mexico)

The Color of Passion. 29 September 2922,

This Mexican telenovela Rebecca who holds a grudge against her sister Arianna for obtaining everything Rebecca has ever wanted in live, including the man she loves.3

The Garifuna Journey (Belize)

Film title, "The Garifuna Journey," appears at top in golden yellow with a black background. Underneath is a black and white depiction of two people in a small wooden boat on the water, one standing in the bow and one seated in the stern Both are dressed in sun hats with full-length clothing.
The Garifuna Journey. New Day Films. 29 September 2022,

Working closely with Garifuna tradition bearers, this “outsider and insider” collaboration is the first of its kind, one that captures the triumph of spirit of the Garifuna people. With vivid and engaging footage shot entirely in Belize, the documentary celebrates the continuity of Garifuna culture in the face of overwhelming odds.4


Hinterland/Y Gwyll (Wales)

Four people in coats stand together facing the viewer, in a field with hills in the background. The series title, "Y Gwyll" is printed above.
Y Gwyll. 29 September 2022,

In a remote corner of Wales DCI Tom Mathais solves crime sin a town full of dark secrets. This four-part drama series from the BBC is set in Aberystwyth, Wales and contained English and Welsh dialogue. 5

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (France)

A woman in dark clothing stands against a dark background, with flames at her feet. The title, "Portrait of a Lady on Fire" is overlaid across her midsection in white cursive script.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire. 29 September 2022,

This film by director Céline Sciamma follows Marianne, a woman hired to paint the wedding portrait of Héloïse, a young woman who just left the convent. Héloïse is a reluctant bride and in order to paint her portrait Marianne must work secretly and poses as a companion for Héloïse. As the two women grow closer, the intimacy between them grows until the portrait becomes a collaborative act and expression of their love.6

The Peasant and the Priest (Italy)

The title, "The Peasant and the Priest" is in the center of the image, in white letters against a dark brown background. Above the title is a black-and-white photo of a peasant family. Below the title is a black-and-white photo of a man in semi-profile, with black clothing and a black head covering.
The Peasant and the Priest. 29 September 2022,

This documentary by Polish artist Esther Podemski tells the story of two elderly Italian men and how their way of life reflects that of medieval Italy in many ways. Sergio is a sharecropper utilizing ancient farming methods, and Father Oreste serves in a religious capacity working toward making the world a better place as he fights against the forced prostitution of African women in Italy.7


Empress Ki/기황후/ 奇皇后 (Korea)

The title appears in English and Chinese at the top of the image. A woman in an ancient formal Chinese red gown and headdress is seated facing forward. Two men stand behind her, facing away from one another, one in ancient formal dress of white and gold, the other of mostly dark blue.
Empress Ki. 29 September 2022,

This historical romance follows Empress Ki, a famous Korean-born woman from Goryeo. This drama follows Empress Ki as she ascends to power despite class restrictions weighting against her to become the favored wife of the Mongol emperor Togon-temür.8

吸血鬼ハンターD ブラッドラスト Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (Japan)

A black winged figure sits atop a horse rearing up with its front feet. Behind them is a gian full moon. Below the figure, the title, "Vampire Hunter D," is written in red.
Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. 29 September 2022,

Based off the famous Japanese lite novel series Vampire Hunter D by Hideyuki Kikuchi this anime follows the famous character D as he sets out to save a kidnapped woman and destroy the vampire that abducted her.9

舌尖上的中国 A Bite of China (China)

The title of the documentary is written in Chinese characters and in English down the central line of the image. At the bottom right of the image is a pair of chopsticks grabbing on to a depiction of the mountains of China.
A Bite of China. 29 September 2022,

This CCTV documentary explores the diverse food culture found throughout China. This documentary is a view into famous, and less known foods of China through the lens of famous chefs, regional cuisine, as well as the traditional food of ethnic minorities.10


The Wedge

The Wedge. 29 September 2022,

The Wedge is an Australian comedy sketch show that takes place in the same fictional town over the course of two seasons. Each episode makes a nod to previous episodes and ties all of them together in a comedic sequence. 11

The Babadook

The Babadook. 29 September 2022,

This Australian psychological horror follows a single mother plagued by the sudden death of her husband as she struggles to cope and care for her young son. After finding an eery children’s book titled “Mister Babadook” strange things begin to happen in her home.12

The Australian Dream

The Australian Dream. 29 September 2022,

This documentary follows retired AFL star Adam Goodes who left the sport to take up advocacy after experiencing racial abuse during a match. Goodes, an activist for Indigenous causes in Australia, came face to face with the all too common fact that Australia as a whole is often unwilling to confront its problematic past and present relations with aboriginal communities throughout the continent.13

Student blogger Kathryn Vandrey is a graduate student and Media Services desk staff member. Kathryn studies Chinese language and history.


  4. The Garifuna Journey. New Day Films.

Media from Around the World: Literacy, Democracy, and Access

Part One

September is National Literacy Month, and libraries around the nation are promoting literacy in many creative ways, from offering DIY book-club kits with free books and discussion prompts, to visual literacy guides, to low- or no-cost open educational resources (OER), to research* on connections between adult literacy programs and increased political participation.

Since 1967, people in many parts of the world have celebrated International Literacy Day on September 8th. The day serves as an opportunity to focus on progress made toward global literacy, but also to acknowledge ongoing disparities in access to educational opportunities, as well as balancing literacy goals with the preservation of equally important oral traditions. In other words, the term “literacy” is employed literally and figuratively, to denote both the capacity to read and write (to be “lettered”) and the ability to acquire new understanding, such as increasing one’s cultural “literacy” or competence.

Together, the items below make up the first installment of a curated collection of programs created in many different world regions. In one way or another, the creators focus on the broader definition of literacy, inviting the viewer to consider a cultural perspective that may differ from their own. Media Services has an ongoing commitment to increasing the variety of perspectives housed in our DVD and streaming collections. Stay tuned for a second installment next week, covering Europe, South America, Asia, and the Pacific Islands.

Do you have a film or media item that significantly impacted your understanding of the world around you? If so, please share it with us in the comments section. If there is a title you think would help expand the diversity of perspectives in Media Services’ holdings, you can suggest a media purchase using this form.

North America

The Ballad of Crowfoot

Black and white photo of Crowfoot, a Native American chief. Crowfoot is seated in semi-profile with the left-hand side of his face showing. He is wearing dark clothing and has chest-length hair.
Crowfoot. Brittannica. 22 September 2022,

This is a 1968 documentary directed by Willie Dunn who is of Mi’kmaq and Scottish descent. This film is a look at colonial incursions told through archival image and song, that focuses on the legendary Siksika (Blackfoot) Chief Crowfoot1. This was the first film directed by an indigenous person to be made at the National Film Board of Canada.2

Northern Exposure

A man in a suit jacket and an adult moose face each other with noses just a few inches apart. In the background is a snowy mountain range and a welcome sign for the fictitious town of Cicely, Alaska. The series title, "Northern Exposure," appears at the top of the image.
Northern Exposure. 22 September 2022,

Fresh out of med school, Dr. Joel Fleishman is looking forward to a comfortable position in Alaska’s largest city but finds himself assigned to a tiny Alaskan village instead. The location is remote, the people different than what Dr. Joel expected, but eventually the people and village grow on him. This series from 1990 won 7 Emmy awards for things such as Outstanding drama series (1992) and Outstanding Individual Achievement in Editing (1992).3

Get Out

Movie poster for the film "Get Out." The title appears in the lower right quadrant of the image. The poster depicts an ominous glass pane cracked by a bullet hole. In each glass shard is reflected a scene from the film.
Get Out. 22 September 2022,

This 2017 horror film was the directorial debut of Jordan Peele (well known for his role in Key and Peele) and focuses on a young African photographer traveling from Brooklyn to Upstate New York to meet his white girlfriend’s family. Soon after the tension and uneasiness he feels over the reception of him comes to a boiling point in horrific and unexpected ways.4


Me Broni Ba

The lower half of the black-and-white image lists the film title, "Me Broni Ba," and other information, including awards the film has won. The upper half shows two Black women wearing white uniforms and seated against a white wall. One woman is showing the other how to do something with a doll's hair.
Me Broni Ba. 22 September 2022,

A film that combines montages of hair salons in Ghana with various images of Western pop culture, invoking a clash of cultures and communities. The film mixes grainy black & white footage with colorful shots of billboards and murals advertising various hair styles. It incorporates audio snippets of beauty instruction and tips from the 1950s. The filmmaker uses the resulting comparisons to explore the legacy, changes, and ongoing effect that European Colonialism has dealt to African culture.

African Beauty

Five Black women stand in formal gowns facing the camera. Three of them wear sashes that designate them as winner, first runner up, and second runner up in a Nigerian beauty pageant. The words "African Beauty, Episode 1" appear in gold lettering on the lower half of the image.
African Beauty, Episode 1. Still image from video. 22 September 2022,

African Beauty is a Nollywood (Nigerian Media) TV show that explores the murky world of beauty pageants in Africa. This exciting show focuses on glitz, glam and beauty, all while the characters deal with hidden corruption, politics, and kidnappings.5


A young Black man with short hair and a black leather jacket sits crouched in the right half of the image, with his face in profile. Behind him is a cityscape bathed in the golden light of a sunset. At the top of the image is the film title, "Tsotsi," and below that the words "Hope set him free."
Tsotsi. 22 September 2022,

This South African film, based on the novel of the same title, follows Tsotsi a young gang member who works the streets of Johannesburg. After shooting a woman and stealing her car, he discovers her baby in the backseat and decides to take the infant home and care for it. The infant acts as a catalyst for major life changes ad Tsotsi does his utmost to properly care for and protect the child.6

Finding Sally

A black-and-white passport-type photo of a young woman. The photo has a decorative red stripe at the top and a green stripe at the bottom.
Finding Sally. Still image from video. 22 September 2022,

Director Tamara Dewitt travels from Canada to her ancestral home of Ethiopia to fill in mysterious gaps in her family history. She joins four aunts and her paternal grandmother to uncover the story of her Aunt Sally, who disappeared after the 1974 resistance that overthrew Emperor Haile Selassie.7

Student blogger Kathryn Vandrey is a graduate student and Media Services desk staff member. Kathryn studies Chinese language and history.



Five Late Summer Films to Watch Before the Seasons Change

Five people pictured against a white background. From left to right, a boy with short curly hair and a blue-and-white striped shirt; a man in a Western-style yellow shirt and black cowboy hat; a woman in a summer top with medium-length hair; a girl with glasses, rainbow bracelets and a red tank top; and a woman with long blonde hair holding a pamphlet.
Photo montage made from images retrieved from From L to R: Call Me By Your Name; True Stories; Us; Little Miss Sunshine; Before Sunrise.

Don’t be fooled by the crisp mornings of late. Sweltering summer heat will return a few more times before it finally surrenders to the chill of Fall. The change of seasons is a special time, and the five films below will help you remember that endless-summer mood even when the time comes to pull out the sweaters and puffy coats.

Call Me By Your Name (2017) dir. Luca Guadagnino

Call Me by Your Name follows 17-year-old Elio Perlman at his parents’ home in Lombardy, Italy, during the summer of 1983. When his father hires an older architecture student to be his intern for the summer, Elio’s interest is piqued, and the two forge a passionate connection. This atmospheric drama is full of yearning, poetic dialogue, incredibly nuanced performances, and cinematography that makes me want to jump through the screen and into the frame. The visuals in this film are ethereal eye-candy, with a color palette composed of baby blues, earth tones, bright oranges, and lush pastels. While good world-building is typically associated with big sci-fi epics, fantastical films, or period pieces, Call Me by Your Name proves that being able to establish a certain atmosphere, time, and place is just as important in films that don’t require extensive visual effects or constructed sets.

DVD cover art for the film "Call Me By Your Name." Two men look upward toward a bright blue sky, one resting his head on the other's shoulder. The film's title is written in yellow block letters above their heads.
Call Me By Your Name. 13 September 2022,

The emphasis on classical art, music, and architecture also enhances the nostalgic setting of 1980s Italy. “Love My Way” by The Psychedelic Furs, multiple pre-existing classical pieces from composers like Maurice Ravel and Erik Satie, and three original songs by Sufjan Stevens populate the soundtrack, resulting in a soundscape that perfectly matches the unique setting and tone of the film.

The plot itself is an example of the quintessential summer romance: Elio and Oliver begin as strangers, become friends, and then finally realize that their feelings are more than platonic. They go on adventures while taking advantage of the tranquil beauty of Lombardy, Italy; sneak around; and learn about and from each other. Even though they know that their fling will have to come to an end, they cannot deny their interest in one another. Overall, Call Me by Your Name is a hazy, dream-like film dripping with atmospheric and poetic beauty. You’re going to want to plan a last-minute getaway to northern Italy after watching this film.

Us (2019) dir. Jordan Peele

DVD cover art for the film "Us." A woman in a deep red top is pictured, wide-eyed, against a black background. She is holding a mask of her own face slightly to the side of her face. The film title appears in white letters below her image.
Us. 13 September 2022,

When you think about summer horror films, the first one to come to mind is probably Jaws. While we certainly owe the invention of summer blockbusters and society’s fear of the ocean to Steven Spielberg and Bruce (the name given to the animatronics Great White shark used on set), other films also deserve to be put in the summer horror spotlight. For me, one of those is Jordan Peele’s Us. The film is only three years old, but it has already cemented itself as an iconic piece of horror cinema mainly for its incredibly unique premise. The film follows Adelaide Wilson as she returns to the beachfront home from her childhood with her family. While there, traumatic memories from her past torment her, and she begins to fear that they have come back to haunt her. This fear becomes very real when four masked people show up on their driveway, eventually revealing themselves to be clones of the family. As the family plays cat and mouse with the demented clones, the mystery and insanity of the plot continue to build to a climactic and unexpected finale with a final revelation that leaves your jaw on the floor.

While the beach town setting is enough to solidify Us as a summer horror film, the Americana iconography present throughout the film also feels reminiscent of what our culture becomes during the summer months, especially near the Fourth of July. The infamous Hands Across America event that happened in 1986 also plays a major role in the plot. Peele uses Hands Across America to make a statement about social problems in America, and to suggest how such events can serve to mask unresolved social divisions that lie below the surface.

True Stories (1986) dir. David Byrne

DVD cover art for the film "True Stories." A man in a green Western-style suit, bolo tie, black cowboy boots and cowboy hat reads a newspaper, the front page of which says "True Stories" in large, bold print.
True Stories., 13 September 2022,

True Stories is a film unseen by many but practically worshipped by those who have seen it. The film follows David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame) as he narrates a series of vignettes all set in the fictional town of Virgil, Texas. The offbeat town is preparing for its 150th-anniversary celebration: a festival that culminates in a city-wide talent show extravaganza. Along the way, we meet a cast of eccentric yet loveable characters, with the most memorable being Louis Fyne (played by John Goodman), a lovesick technician at the fictional computer manufacturer Varicorp who has an affinity for country music.

David Byrne’s signature surrealist style fills every frame. From his deadpan narration to the extravagant musical numbers, this film’s idiosyncratic style is a direct reflection of Byrne’s intense curiosity about what many people would think of as mundane. Even though this film is somewhat satirical in its exaggerated depictions of suburban life, Byrne’s interest feels sincere. The production and costume design enhance the film’s summertime setting with shots of sprawling Texas landscapes, lively shopping malls, cowboy hats, and red, white, and blue banners scattered throughout. Overall, this film is a celebration of the unexpected absurdity of small-town living and will have you wishing for a time machine so that you, too, can discover the beauty of Virgil, Texas.

Little Miss Sunshine (2006) dir. Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris

DVD cover art for the film "Little Miss Sunshine." A yellow and white Volkswagen van is pictured in the bottom third of the image, against a yellow background. One person is inside the van with arms outstretched, while four others run toward it as if to enter it.
Little Miss Sunshine. 13 September 2022,

Little Miss Sunshine follows a young girl, Olive Hoover, and her dysfunctional family. Olive is obsessed with the world of pageantry and will do anything to compete at the annual “Little Miss Sunshine” pageant in California. When a spot opens up for her, the family jumps in their VW van and begins a chaotic cross-country road trip so that she can compete. Each member of the family has their own quirks: her dad is obsessed with winning and believes that ‘losers’ are lesser people; her brother is taking a vow of silence in the name of Friedrich Nietzsche; her uncle just got out of a relationship with a younger man and is now depressed; her grandfather is addicted to drugs; and her mom is just trying to keep the family together. They yell, they fight, and they know that they’re imperfect. But, in the end, they come together to support Olive in the pageant.

Even though Olive’s family doesn’t fit the typical nuclear family mold, their quirks make them all the more lovable. Most of this film takes place on the road with the family packed into their unreliable vehicle, which stirs up nostalgic memories of past summer road trips. Overall, if you’re looking for a feel-good family road trip movie that is equal parts hilarious and tear-jerking, give Little Miss Sunshine a chance.

Before Sunrise (1995) dir. Richard Linklater

DVD cover art for the film "Before Sunrise." A young man is pictured seated, looking down and slightly reclining. A woman has her head in his lap and looks up at him. Behind them one can see the city of Vienna, with pinkish clouds in the sky above.
Before Sunrise. 13 September 2022,

Before Sunrise is the first film in Richard Linklater’s “Before” trilogy. It follows a young American man, Jesse, who meets a young French woman, Celine, on a train. The two hit it off and Celine agrees to abandon her original plans and spontaneously get off the train in Vienna with Jesse. Because Jesse’s flight back to America is the next day and he doesn’t have any money for a hotel, the two decide to wander the streets of Vienna until morning. During their adventure, they get to know one another, which makes their eventual departure in the morning all the more painful. The two forge an intimate connection while sharing their personal philosophies on love. The city of Vienna is a dreamy backdrop for the two potential lovers, as the empty streets and charming architecture perfectly complement their spontaneous romance. The cinematic summer fling that I’ve mentioned in Call Me by Your Name wouldn’t exist without Jesse and Celine’s twenty-four-hour romance. In fact, much of the atmosphere-building in Call Me by Your Name can be compared to that of Before Sunrise, one of the film’s spiritual predecessors. Before Sunrise is one of the finest examples of the “walk and talk” movie, which makes it a perfect watch for those calm and meandering late summer days.

Chloe Fulk is a junior studying cinema and media. This is her third semester working at Media Services. She is also a film columnist for the Indiana Daily Student.

Seven Extraordinary Historical Figures Depicted in Film

Are you interested in learning about social reform, scientific innovation, and famous artists? One of the best ways to discover history is to study the individuals that made it. I have compiled a list of seven biopic films on key figures from recent history, from abolitionist Harriet Tubman to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, which I feel encapsulate the relevance and importance of learning about history today. Feel free to check out these titles and many more with a Crimson or Borrower’s Card at Wells Library’s Media Services. Also, take a look at our library guide (libguide, for short) on the Media Services website, which lists history databases designed to help you find streaming videos. As with all prominent figures, it can be difficult to separate the facts from embellishments. This is especially true in the film medium, where dramatic arc and short duration influence storytelling choices. For that reason, additional resources for further exploration are provided at the end of the post.

1. Harriet (2019): Harriet Tubman

Harriet. Digtal Image.

Following one of America’s greatest heroes, Harriet depicts the life and achievements of Harriet Tubman–from her escape from slavery to her work with the Underground Railroad in the 1850s. All in all, she traveled hundreds of miles in nineteen journeys to escort many enslaved people to freedom and is the most famous “conductor” of the Underground Railroad. Tubman would then go on to become a spy for the Union in the Civil War, and would live until her early nineties.

Cynthia Erivo’s outstanding performance earned her an Oscar nomination in 2020. Harriet Tubman truly lived an extraordinary life, and her bravery serves as an inspiration to all.

2. At Eternity’s Gate (2018): Vincent van Gogh

At Eternity’s Gate. Digital Image.

Willem Dafoe gives a noteworthy performance in this artistic biopic as the Dutch painter we all know and love: Vincent van Gogh. Throughout the movie, the viewer goes on a journey with Van Gogh himself, making for a creative and unique storytelling experience.

Picturesque settings throughout France, ripe with color and motion, mimic Van Gogh’s Post-Impressionist style of painting. When the film ended, I had a strong urge to visit IU’s Eskenazi Art Museum. While it does not feature a Van Gogh, it does hold paintings from many of his important contemporaries, including Claude Monet, and others such as Picasso and Pisarro who followed.

3. Michael Collins (1996): Michael Collins

Michael Collins. Digital Image.

This historical biopic follows Irish independence leader Michael Collins in his long and violent fight for Irish sovereignty in the early twentieth century. Collins successfully negotiated a peace treaty with the British, causing Ireland to be divided by a Civil War, pitting friends and family members against one another.

With a stellar performance by Liam Neeson and a score that enhances the enormity of Collins’ actions, watching this movie left me deeply moved and yearning to learn more about my own Irish ancestry.

4. Gandhi (1982): Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi. Digital Image.

Gandhi is one historical figure everyone has heard of. My father teaches seventh grade world history and shows this film every year. The story of Gandhi is surprisingly similar to that of Michael Collins–a relatively unknown person becomes a political leader and rises against British oppression, coordinating a pact which would then unfortunately lead to a partition of the country and even harsher violence and an assassination.

While Gandhi does gloss over aspects of racist ideas from his early adulthood in South Africa, the film tells a moving story of his leadership of the peaceful protests in India in the 1940s.

5. The Theory of Everything (2014): Stephen Hawking

The Theory of Everything. Digital Image.

Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones star as Stephen Hawking and Jane Wilde in this biopic film based on their time at Cambridge University, where they both excelled in their coursework. When Stephen is diagnosed with motor neuron disease, their relationship is tested to its limits, making them even stronger together than before.

Stephen Hawking, who recently passed in 2018, was credited with pioneering many scientific discoveries, such as the Big Bang Theory, and broke many boundaries through his work with black holes. His wife, Jane Hawking, was also very accomplished and held a doctorate in Medieval Spanish poetry. This film is an excellent look into the sacrifices the pair made for each other, and how their lives were changed after Stephen’s diagnosis.

6. Milk (2008): Harvey Milk

Milk. Digital Image.

Milk follows the story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, in his push for equal rights in 1970s San Francisco. Although he faced much opposition, Harvey persevered with great tenacity and implemented numerous progressive changes that gave hope to the LGBT community.

Sadly, Harvey was assassinated by fellow board supervisor Dan White, who then only served five years of a seven-year prison sentence after receiving the minimum punishment from a jury of his peers. Milk is an Oscar-winning, highly-praised film with stellar performances by Sean Penn, Diego Luna, and Josh Brolin.

7. On the Basis of Sex: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

On the Basis of Sex. Digital Image.

The final figure on this list is “The Notorious” RBG, aka Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg. That’s a mouthful! On the Basis of Sex follows RBG’s struggles against a misogynistic system, and tells the story of her fight for women’s equality.

After being being declined by many law firms, Ruth becomes a professor and goes on to argue a case that would set the precedent for many discriminatory laws to be overturned. RBG, who recently passed in September, 2020, would serve as a justice for 27 years after being appointed in 1993 by Clinton. Through quiet confidence, RBG became a symbol for equality and women’s rights.

What do you think of this list? Are there any historical figures you’d like to see a movie about? I am still waiting for a movie about Sacagawea and the Lewis and Clark expeditions. The story of this Lemhi Shoshone woman is a great one. Along with helping guide and interpret for the explorers while carrying her newborn child on her back, she put up with her lousy French fur-trapping husband, whom Lewis wrote was “perhaps the most timid waterman in the world.MN

Student blogger Matthew Nokes joined Media Services in May 2022, and is a senior studying history at IU. He is president of the History Undergraduate Student Association, and this is his first blog post for Media Beat.

Harriet Tubman

Baltimore Sun review (2004): Harriet Tubman’s 3 Biographies

The three Tubman biographies reviewed above are available at IU Bloomington. Below are the IUCAT records for each:

Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, portrait of an American hero

Harriet Tubman: The life and the life stories

Harriet Tubman: The road to freedom

Also, check out this documentary featuring a modern dance based on Tubman’s life entitled “The Called Her Moses,” by award-winning choreographer Donald McKayle.

Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh: The Letters (Lilly Library)

Van Gogh: The Life

Michael Collins

The man who made Ireland: the life and death of Michael Collins

Michael Collins: The man and the revolution

Mahatma Gandhi

The moral and political writings of Mahatma Gandhi

The moral basis of vegetarianism

Gandhi: A select bibliographic guide

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking: A Biography

The nature of space and time, by Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose

Harvey Milk

Gayvote: News from the San Francisco Gay Democratic Club

An Archive of Hope: Harvey Milk’s speeches and writings

Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Justice, justice thou shalt pursue: a life’s work fighting for a more perfect union, by Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Amanda L. Tyler

Text, cases, and materials on constitutional aspects of sex-based discrimination by Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Kenneth M. Davidson

RBG (video documentary)

Untangling the Evolution of Cables

Several snakes intertwined in the grass.
Oriental rat snakes. Digital image. 29 July 2022,

Gaming consoles and televisions have changed significantly over the past 50-odd years as technology progressed and consumer demands changed. As these devices became more advanced, the technology necessary to connect them also changed, sometimes so drastically that it would become impossible to connect older devices to newer ones without the use of special adapters or intermediary cabling.

Throughout the generations of gaming consoles, video cables have largely come in four varieties: Radio Frequency Switchbox, Coaxial, Component, and HDMI.

RF(Radio Frequency) Switchboxes

First seen among the “Pong Machines” and first generation of gaming consoles of the mid-1970s and early 1980s, the RF Switchbox was the first way that these devices could connect to a television. The console’s video cable would connect to this switchbox, which would feed the video input through to the pair of metal forks visible here. These forks would then be screwed into place beneath the antenna screws of the television, and the user could use the box to swap between the normal antenna input and the input of the console itself, using the wiring within the box to splice the console’s signal directly through the TV’s antenna input. These switchboxes, however, were notoriously bothersome and finicky, requiring multiple steps to achieve an often-unstable connection.

A switchbox successfully connected to a TV. Digital Image., 6/17/2022.

RF Coaxial Cables

As televisions evolved, they soon began including direct RF ports that consoles and other devices could plug into directly, bypassing the need to splice through the antenna’s input entirely. These ports were often threaded on the outside, allowing the cables’ threading to achieve a significantly more stable connection than the switchboxes used previously. These cables (and their adapters) would still be used among the first generation of consoles and devices alongside them, as RF adapters could often be placed directly onto the video cable of these consoles and plugged into the TV. These, too, however, would be rendered obsolete with the introduction of the next item on this list.

Modern Atari 2600 RF to RCA adapters, allowing the console to be directly connected to the TV. Digital image, 6/17/2022.

Component Cables

Largely introduced to consoles with the NES in 1983, Component cables were an evolution of the already-common Composite cabling that had been in use for several decades. While a composite cable carried video and audio output through one cable, Component cables split this audio and video output into three separate cables, often color-coded (and often specifically red, yellow, and white). Splitting the output this way significantly increased the quality of both the video and audio and would quickly become the standard for game consoles for the next 20 years; even the Wii, introduced in 2006, would still use them. These cables are still used today, but like the others, have largely been obsoleted by newer, more modern cabling.

The common red/white/yellow component cabling, used on many consoles and devices from the mid-80s to the late 2000s. Digital Image,, 6/17/2022.


While HDMI cables were invented in the early 2000s, it would not be until the early 2010s when they would come into standard use among most devices and consoles. The most significant change that HDMI cabling brought to consoles and devices was the change from analog to digital output, a change that significantly increased audiovisual fidelity over the older composite cabling while reducing the amount of cabling necessary. HDMI cables have not stopped evolving, either, with successive generations of cables capable of carrying more data faster than their predecessors. Just about all consoles and devices use HDMI cabling today.

Modern HDMI cabling: the standard of today’s devices. Digital image,, 6/17/2022.

Student blogger Joshua Peters holds a BS in Biology and is currently pursuing a Library Science Master’s degree. This is his first semester working in Media Services as well as his first blog post for Media Beat.

Sources Consulted for additional Information:

Watkins, Nicholas(2019, April 18). “History of Video Cables”. Show Me [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Video Game Preservation

Photo credits, L to R: Stevens, T. Atari Pong review (1976).,; Finch, Gregory. DIY Pong Console.,; A Couple of Kids Playing ‘Pong’ on Atari., All accessed 3 August 2022.

Legacy Games: Cultural Context and Importance

Down in the Media Services department here at the Wells Library, a special collection consisting of hundreds of video games and over a dozen consoles is available for public use. The games held in this collection range in age from a 1972 version of the game Pong, to the PlayStation 5 version of Elden Ring (2022). In creating a library guide for these items (“libguide,” for short), I found myself handling the very same games my father played in arcades and at cousins’ houses as a child in the 1970s and 80s. As I snapped the occasional picture to send off to him, ’Do you remember this one?’, he would respond with stories about spending the summer playing Pong and watching the first Star Wars. It resonated with me, the cultural importance and personal meaning these games have despite their pervasive societal status as sort-of mindless entertainment. Pong‘s two-dimensional dots bouncing around a screen are absurdly primitive from today’s perspective of photo-realistic video game worlds and ever-enhancing gameplay: ‘You were entertained by this?!’

I do not think it is a radical statement to say that there is something of a lowbrow stigma attached to video games. Unlike film, which early-on attracted the attention of people like Henri Langlois and Iris Barry, who championed the medium’s artistic and cultural value, video games have historically been associated with the cultural spheres of children’s games and comic-book-guy tropes. Despite this, video games have been preserved by collectors, enthusiasts, and, in recent years, universities. The University of Illinois and the University of Michigan both hold extensive collections of vintage consoles and games. As we evaluated our collection of games and consoles at IU Libraries’ Media Services, I looked to the established best practices of video game archival pioneers and leaned on my classroom knowledge from courses like Audio Preservation, Digital Curation, and Moving Image Preservation.

Preservation: Considerations and Challenges

Testing ET for the Atari
Credit (both photos): Sarah Bull

To begin this project, I considered some of the difficulties facing people charged with preserving games. In the archival world, the preservation of the original item is a key best practice. In the case of physical, digital-based media like game cartridges and CD-ROMS, issues like software and hardware obsolescence, as well as regular old degradation can make this task very difficult to accomplish. Digital copies can be created and emulated on modern equipment but lack the same character and feel as original copies on original equipment. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, academic libraries looking to make digital copies of video games must contend with restrictive copyright law, which adds a layer of confusion to the process for researchers and preservationists alike.

Some internal clean-up
Photo Credit: Sarah Bull

Media Services holds over 100 Atari games, and about 100 NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) games, and together these make up the oldest portion of our game collection. In working on this project, we’ve tested nearly all of these items, and found that if they did not work immediately, they worked after a little cleaning with some isopropyl alcohol. We also found that seven of our NES games contained batteries, which were used for saving game data. To check the health of those batteries, we opened the cartridges, cleaning the plastic interiors gently with a mild soap and water solution, and found that all batteries were clean and in good working order. This did raise a tricky question: Do we ‘decommission’ the games by taking the battery out, thus reducing the risk of decay and corrosion, or do we leave the batteries in so as to allow the games to be used? For the moment, we decided to leave the batteries intact. One other issue we found while combing through the collection was that several of our Atari games work, but are unplayable due to their need for a special ‘paddle’ controller the department does not currently own. Orders have been placed to make that controller available in Media Services, but this provides a good example of equipment scarcity as a preservation risk.

Atari Paddle Controllers
Photo Credit: Atari Paddle Controller Design

While IU does have a large, temperature- and humidity-controlled facility for both archival and overflow items, using offsite storage tends to limit the usability of an item. To the greatest extent possible, Media Services wants to continue ensuring our video game collection is usable. Fortunately, we have found that our space in the ground level of the Wells Library is optimal for keeping video games in good condition, with no sunlight, major temperature shifts, or high humidity to hasten degradation.

Despite Media Services being an ideal storage space for video games, the items held here will not last forever. While in this article I have largely focused on game cartridges, it should be noted that games stored on CD-ROMs are also at risk: anything from obsolete software to easily-created disc scratches can permanently affect or damage a game’s playability. This is to say nothing of modern games, with many new games published exclusively for online play, with no physical title for a library or archive to hold. For these, future preservationists will need to navigate both proprietary software and copyright restrictions. As we move forward, it is important to be aware of the continually evolving risks and challenges to long-term game preservation and to mitigate those wherever possible. SB

For the past few years, this week’s blogger Sarah Bull has been a student staff member in a number of departments at Wells Library, including Media Services. Sarah received her Master’s Degree in Library Science in Spring, 2022. This is her final blog post for Media Beat. Sarah has made many meaningful contributions to Media Services during her tenure here, and we wish her the best in her future endeavors!

Works Consulted

Yee, Jared. “Incompatible: The Challenges in Preserving Taiwanese Video Games.” 2021 Pacific Neighborhood Consortium Annual Conference and Joint Meetings (PNC), Consortium Annual Conference and Joint Meetings (PNC), 2021 Pacific Neighborhood, Sept. 2021, pp. 1–8. EBSCOhost,

Retro Computing Stack Exchange Forum: How long will SFC/SNES consoles and cartridges last? – Retrocomputing Stack Exchange 

Oct. 20th, Rylan Vanacore |. published and 2021. “Preserving Video Game History.” Reporter, Accessed 11 July 2022.

“Why Some Video Games Are In Danger of Disappearing Forever.” Kotaku, 12 Dec. 2017,

Ranking Early 2000s Barbie Movies

The Barbie movie franchise really kicked off in the early 2000s — in a span of just 17 years, from 2001-2017, 37 Barbie movies were released. Being an early 2000s child, these movies were a special part of my childhood. When I was between the ages of five and ten years old, I would always go to my local library with my mom to check out the new Barbie movie DVDs or I’d watch them when they premiered on Nickelodeon. And now, as the new live action Barbie movie is being filmed (starring Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken), I am reminiscing on those childhood memories. Here are my top 5 favorite Barbie movies from the early 2000s!

5. Barbie as Rapunzel (2002)

I still remember being a kid and watching this movie late at night on my iPod under the blanket… when I should’ve been asleep! In this take on the classic story, Rapunzel lives in a tower with a witch who claims that she saved Rapunzel from abandonment when she was a baby. In the tower, Rapunzel discovers a magic paintbrush that paints a mural onto her wall, and the mural acts as a portal to the outside world!

Rapunzel. 15 July 2022,

4. Barbie in A Mermaid Tale (2010)

In this movie, Barbie plays a surfer-girl named Merliah. During a surfing competition, Merliah realizes that streaks of her hair are turning pink. Later, she learns that she can now breathe underwater, and a talking dolphin approaches her to explain that Merliah is actually half-mermaid! Along with the dolphin and a few friends, Merliah goes on a journey to save the underwater kingdom of Oceana from an evil Queen — Merliah’s aunt.

One reason that this movie is so memorable for me is that I owned the corresponding Barbie doll; I thought it was so cool how streaks of its hair would turn pink when you dipped it in water!

Barbie in A Mermaid Tale. 15 July 2022,

3. Barbie in the Nutcracker (2001)

This is the movie that established the Barbie animated-film franchise. In this movie, Barbie tells a story to her younger sister and the story is about a girl named Clara. Clara is given a Nutcracker and, on the night before Christmas, Clara wakes up and sees that her Nutcracker has come to life! This story is about Clara’s journey as she and the Nutcracker try to defeat an evil king and find the Sugarplum Princess (who can help them undo the King’s magic spells). It features a beautiful soundtrack that’s based on the classic ballet The Nutcracker.

Excerpt, Barbie in the Nutcracker. 15 July 2022,

2. Barbie: Princess Charm School (2011)

In this movie, Barbie plays a teenager named Blair. Blair works as a waitress in order to help support her ailing adoptive mother and her little sister Emily. Blair’s life changes forever when Emily secretly enters Blair’s name in a lottery for a scholarship to study at the distinguished Princess Charm School academy. When Blair discovers she’s won this scholarship (and learns what Emily has done), her mom encourages her to pursue the opportunity. At the Charm School, Blair uncovers major secrets about the kingdom.

Barbie: Princess Charm School. 15 July 2022,

I loved this movie so much; my mom got me the corresponding Barbie doll and playset. Photo credit: Barbie Princess Charm School Movie Play Set. 15 July 2022,

1. Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper (2004)

When I think of Barbie movies from my childhood, this is the first one that comes to mind. It is an absolute classic Barbie film about two girls who switch places to live each other’s lives, learning that they’re not as different from each other as they may seem. Below, you can watch the video of a favorite song from the movie.

Excerpt, Barbie: The Princess and The Pauper. 15 July 2022,
Barbie as The Princess and the Pauper. 15 July 2022,
Barbie as The Princess and the Pauper. 15 July 2022,

Thoughts to end with — critiques of the Barbie animated-movie franchise

I loved these movies as a child (and I still do) but it’s important to also be critical. One of the limitations of these early 2000s Barbie movies is that there were not many characters of color. (Or, if there were any characters of color, then they did not play a major role in the films, and they still always had white facial features to align with Eurocentric beauty standards.)

These are still great movies that I did enjoy very much but, if I had children, I would want to point out the lack of diversity to them as a way of starting a conversation about 1) how to be an anti-racist and 2) what “subtle racism” can look like. For a lot of young girls, Barbie represents being able to do anything (like being an astronaut, or a painter), so I wish it would be easier for young girls of color to be able to see themselves in these movie characters.

Paige Tutt wrote an article titled, “What Barbie Meant To 8 Women Of Color” where one woman shared, “[E]ven though I have great memories of Barbie and her pals, those thoughts are sullied with memories of my first outward expression of internalized colorism.” I think that quote encapsulates a lot of how I feel. In the end, I’m still grateful for the memories! ZK

Barbie-related films owned by Media Services

Barbie Nation: An Unauthorized Tour (1998): This documentary explores the history of the Barbie doll, through older and contemporary clips. Includes interviews with Barbie fans, foes, and fetishists ; these are people of all ages and sexes who either covet or revile Barbie. Visits conventions and auctions, where early dolls and memorabilia are bought and sold. Also tells the story of Barbie’s creator and Mattel co-founder: Ruth Handler, whose commentary runs throughout the film. Handler adapted a 1950s German doll for adults called Lilli, to create Barbie, named after her daughter. Special features: Optional audio director’s commentary; a short film, Filmmakers; and 5 short Barbie films: Weird Barbies, Black Barbie, Barbie on the street, Collector’s Barbies, The Handlers at Home.

Barbie and Her Sisters in the Great Puppy Adventure (2015): Barbie and her sisters, Skipper, Stacie, and Chelsea, and their adorable new puppy friends find unexpected mystery and adventure when they return to their hometown of Willows. While going through mementos in Grandma’s attic, the sisters discover an old map, believed to lead to a long-lost treasure buried somewhere in the town. This title has options for English, French, Portuguese, or Spanish dialogue; Spanish or French subtitles; and is subtitled for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Barbie: Mariposa and Her Butterfly Fairy Friends (2008): Mariposa is a butterfly fairy who loves to read and dream about what its like outside her world of Flutterfield. When the Queen that protects her land is poisoned, it’s up to Mariposa and her friends to journey outside to find a hidden antidote. This title has options for English, Spanish, or French dialogue, with English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Student blogger Zayn Karim is an undergraduate at Indiana University, studying secondary math education. She is a member of the Women in Math Club at IU. Zayn has been a member of the Media Services desk staff since 2021.

Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders in Film

Minari. A24. 29 June 2022,

If you were to watch films from ten years ago, you would notice little to no representation of Asian American and Pacific Islander in films made and/or distributed in the United States. Apart from Studio Ghibli or martial arts films, Asian media was not mainstream. As film studios begin to pay more attention to ethnic diversity, Asian American films are becoming mainstream and anime, which was once a niche genre, has been mainstreamed as well. Here are five films to celebrate not only the increased visibility of AAPI-heritage actors and directors, but the wider range of stories and characters available for viewers to enjoy.


Written and directed by Lee Issac Chung, Minari is an autobiographical movie about a South Korean family who immigrated to the rural United States in the 1980s to start a farm, which is the dream of its patriarch, Jacob. Amidst the challenges of this new life in the strange and rugged Ozarks, they discover the undeniable resilience of family and what really makes a home.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. 29 June 2022,

Martial-arts master Shang-Chi confronts the past he thought he left behind when he’s drawn into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organization. In addition to well-choreographed action sequences featuring both men and women fighters, the film has magical beasts. And though in some ways it is a typical hero’s journey, the complex family and community relationships in the story go further than many prior films in challenging stereotypes.

Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians. 29 June 2022,

Set in modern times, the movie follows Rachel Chu and her boyfriend Nick Young who return to Nick’s home country of Singapore for his best friend’s marriage. While in Singapore, Rachel’s Chinese-American heritage is scrutinized by Nick’s old-Chinese thinking.


Moana. 29 June 2022,

An adventurous teenager sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana meets the once-mighty demigod Maui, who guides her in her quest to become a master way-finder. Together they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds. Along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she always sought: her own identity.


Abominable. 29 June 2022,

After discovering a Yeti on the roof of her apartment building, teenage Yi and her two friends embark on an epic quest to reunite the magical creature with his family. But to do so, they must stay one step ahead of a wealthy financier and a determined zoologist who wants to capture the beast for their own gain.

Do you have a favorite recent film featuring Asian, Asian American, and/or Pacific Islander actors, stories, or characters? Let us know in the comments, and if you are so inclined, please share why it is appealing and/or important to you! RW

Student blogger Richard Wu began working in Media Services in 2021. Richard is a pianist, and his focus at Indiana University is music. This is his second Media Beat blog post.

Six Black TV and Film Composers Everyone Should Know

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Quincy Jones. Digital image. YARN. 10 June 2022,

In honor of African American Music Appreciation Month, we at Media Services have put together a list of six Black film and TV composers every film and music enthusiast should know. This list is in no particular order and focuses primarily on artists who are known for writing film scores, so musicians like Miles Davis and Duke Ellington, who certainly contributed to film but are better known for their work in jazz, will be excluded.

Michael Abels

Michael Abels. © Eric Schwabel.  Digital Image.  Hewlett Foundation. 2 June 2022,

Michael Abels discovered his love for music at a young age, starting to compose at age 8 and completing his first piece for orchestra at 13. He later attended the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music and studied West African drumming at the California Institute for the Arts. He has worked extensively with Jordan Peele and is best known for his score for the film Get Out (2017).  He also collaborated with Peele on Us (2019) and Nope, which is set to release later this year. Other projects Abels has worked on include Netflix films See You Yesterday (2019), All Day and a Night (2020), and Nightbooks (2021), as well as the films Bad Education (2020) and 892 (2022). Besides film scores, Abels has also written his fair share of classical works, including a ballet entitled Falling Sky (2020) and the opera Omar. His best-known orchestral work, Global Warming (1991), has been performed by orchestras around the country. He is also a co-founder of the Composers Diversity Collective and is currently the Director of Music for the New Roads School in Santa Monica.

Terence Blanchard

Oscars 2019. Digital Image. Wikipedia. 2 June 2022,

Like Miles Davis and Duke Ellington before him, Terence Blanchard got his start in jazz.  Also like Miles Davis, Blanchard plays the trumpet. His first major gigs as a professional musician had him touring with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra and performing with The Jazz Messengers. But while his career may have started with jazz, he soon made a name for himself writing for film, collaborating frequently with Spike Lee. Many of these projects included films such as Malcom X (1992), Clockers (1995), Summer of Sam (1999), 25th Hour (2002), and Inside Man (2006), as well as many other films from other filmmakers. He is best known for his scores for the critically acclaimed Spike Lee films, BlacKkKlansman (2018), and Da 5 Bloods (2020), both of which earned him Oscar nominations. Even with his success in film, Blanchard never gave up his love for jazz, and has received many accolades for his work. From 2000 to 2011 he was the artistic director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz before taking a similar post at the Henry Mancini Institute at the University of Miami. In 2015 he was a visiting scholar in jazz composition at the Berklee College of Music, and in 2019 he took on the Endowed Chair of Jazz Studies position at UCLA. In 2019 he also completed his opera Fire Shut Up in My Bones, which the Metropolitan Opera performed for their 2021-2022 season. It was the first opera by an African American composer the Met has performed in the history of the organization.

Kathryn Bostic

Kathryn Bostic.  Digital Image.  APM Music. 2 June 2022,

Kathryn Bostic is a name that doesn’t receive quite as much recognition as the previous two entries, as many of her projects are a bit lower profile. She has scored several different documentaries (making up the bulk of her work), including the critically acclaimed Toni Morrison:  The Pieces I Am (2019), for which she received an Emmy nomination. She also wrote and performed the documentary’s song “High Above the Water.” Other projects Bostic worked on include Clemency (2019), Dear White People (2014), the TV series Women of the Movement (2022) and other documentaries Who We Are:  A Chronicle of Racism in America (2021), and Amy Tan:  Unintended Memoir (2021), for which she received another Emmy nomination. She is currently working on another documentary, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks. Bostic has also written for Broadway, collaborating with playwright August Wilson on both Gem of the Ocean and Radio Golf. She also wrote the music for Rajiv Joseph’s Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo. While Bostic may not be as well-known as some of the others on this list, her contributions are no less valuable. She was the first female African American composer to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and from 2016 to 2018 she served as the vice president of the Alliance for Women Film Composers.

Kris Bowers

Kris Bowers. © Molly Cranna. Digital Image. NPR. 2 June 2022,

Kris Bowers got his start as a pianist, taking lessons at a young age. While attending the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, he began to study jazz piano, and later went on to earn both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in jazz performance from Juilliard. Bowers soon started performing in high-profile projects in a variety of genres, and in 2011 he won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition. He got started writing for film by scoring documentaries, the first of which was a film called Elaine Stritch:  Shoot Me (2013). He went on to write music for Kobe Bryant’s Muse (2015), I Am Giant (2015), Play It Forward (2015), and Norman Lear:  Just Another Version of You. He also scored the film Little Boxes (2016) and contributed to the television shows Religion of Sports (2016) and Dear White People (2014). In 2017 he won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Musical Direction and Composition for his work on Amazon’s Christmas Special The Snowy Day (2017). His first big project was the film Green Book (2018), for which he wrote the score and acted as piano teacher for Mahershala Ali as well as standing in for some close-up piano scenes. From there, Bowers went on to work on other high-profile projects such as TV series When They See Us (2019) and Bridgerton (2020), as well as films The United States vs. Billie Holiday (2021), Space Jam:  A New Legacy (2021), Respect (2021), and King Richard (2021). Bowers is also currently working with Disney on Haunted Mansion, which is set to release March of 2023.

Amanda Jones

Amanda Jones. © Ian Spanier. Digital Image. NPR. 2 June 2022,

More of an up-and-coming artist than some of our previous entries, composer Amanda Jones is starting to make waves in the entertainment industry. She earned a BA in Music from Vassar College where she studied composition, music production, and classical guitar, and earned certificates in film scoring and orchestration from Berklee College of Music. With the intention of starting a career in music production, Jones worked as a music production assistant for big-name film composers Hans Zimmer, Henry Jackson, and John Powell. In 2018, Jones tried her hand at composing for film with her first feature, One Angry Black Man. She has since gone on to write for numerous TV series, short films, and feature films.  She was the first African American woman to be nominated for an Emmy for Best Score for her work on the Apple TV+ series, Home (2020), and she helped co-found the Composers Diversity Collective. Besides writing for film and TV, Jones also plays guitar with her LA indie rock band, The Anti-Job. We have no doubt that we’ll be seeing much more from Amanda Jones in the near future, so make sure to keep her on your radar.

Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones.  © Canadian Film Center.  Digital Image.  Wikipedia. 2 June 2022,

This next entry on our list is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum from Amanda Jones.  Over his impressive 70-year-long career, he has earned 80 Grammy nominations—28 of which he won—a Grammy Legend Award, two honorary doctorates—one from Berklee College of Music and one from the London Royal Academy of Music—the National Medal of Arts, awarded to him by President Barack Obama, and has been recognized at the Kennedy Center Honors. He has worked as a jazz arranger, conductor, performer, record producer, songwriter, composer, arranger, and film and television producer. He has collaborated with legends like Frank Sinatra, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Sarah Vaughan, and Michael Jackson, just to name a few, and is one of three composers besides John Williams to score a Stephen Spielberg film. Quincy Jones has inarguably become one of the most influential black figures in the entertainment industry and his work speaks for itself. While that work spans a variety of mediums, his film scores are often overlooked. Some of these include scores for films such as The Italian Job (1969), In the Heat of the Night (1967), In Cold Blood (1967), They Call Me Mister Tibbs! (1970), and Stephen Spielberg’s critically acclaimed The Color Purple (1985), for which Jones received an Oscar nomination.  All of these accolades and achievements only represent a fraction of the legacy Quincy Jones has left in his wake and there is no doubt that he has left a mark on the entertainment industry that will never be erased.

Did we miss any of your favorite black film and television composers?  Make sure to let us know in the comments. KE

Kathryn Edom is a composer and aspiring music librarian going into her second year of IU’s MLS (Library Sciences) program. She previously attended Sacramento State University and University of Oregon where she received her BM and MM (respectively) in music composition. On top of her courses, she currently juggles three different library jobs, and in her limited spare time, enjoys reading, writing music, playing Animal Crossing, and watching Oregon football. Kathryn has been a Media Services part-time staff member since 2021.