Movie: 'She's Gotta Have It'
Release Date: August 8, 1986
How It Got Made: It's hard to remember now how thoroughly white American cinema was 25 years ago. There were no black directors or screenwriters and few black stars. The few movies that were about black people were about racial struggle or crime, though the mini-wave of black filmmaking that marked the pulpy crime dramas of the blaxploitation era of the early '70s was now a distant memory. What's more, the independent film scene that might have nurtured new talents who would have changed the situation didn't exist yet.
And then, along came Spike Lee, whose debut feature launched not only a renaissance in black filmmaking but also begat the indie film scene that welcomed talented filmmakers of all races. Plus, the crossover success of 'She's Gotta Have It' was the first sign that non-black viewers were interested in movies about black characters that weren't about race as a problem - opening up American film to a pool of black acting talent who could play the same well-rounded, fully-fleshed, starring roles that white actors did.