7 TV series and movies to stream this African Heritage Month

From the buzzy new Kanye West doc to the buried Black history of hockey in the Maritimes, here's what to watch in February 2022.

CBC's The Porter launches February 21.
CBC's The Porter launches February 21.

The winter doldrums are here and it’s peak stay-home-and-watch-TV season (especially thanks to omicron’s continued presence). It’s possible you feel as we do in that you’ve watched The Entire Internet and have moved on to weird, niche content. Consider this a rallying cry from the mainstream’s shores: A collection of seven new, buzzy series and movies to binge—and talk about at the water cooler (by which we mean tweet obsessively about). An added bonus? Every show on this list highlights Black voices, helping you celebrate African Heritage Month.

Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché

click to enlarge Poly Styrene of legendary punk band X Ray Specks - FILM STILL
Film still
Poly Styrene of legendary punk band X Ray Specks
If you missed this buzzed-about rock doc when it showed at last year’s FIN Atlantic International Film Festival, consider yourself in luck: The flick is now available to rent online, so you can finally bear witness to the X Ray Specks frontwoman breaking UK punk’s colour barrier while setting the stage for the Afropunk and Riot Grrl scenes. Complete with interviews from the likes of Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna—alongside unseen archival footage and rare diary entries narrated by Oscar nominee Ruth Negga—the flick traces the legacy of both Poly the icon and Poly the woman.
Rent or buy through AppleTV+, Google Play, Youtube and Cineplex, $4.99-$14.99


The Porter

click to enlarge CBC's The Porter launches February 21.
CBC's The Porter launches February 21.
Set amongst the glamorous glow of 1920s train travel, this based-on-a-true-story CBC series follows the lives of a collection of train porters hailing from Montreal’s Black community in St. Antoine. Historical fiction heads, get to it!
On CBC Mondays at 9pm starting February 21, or stream on CBC Gem, free


Moonlight

Cineplex Park Lane is remounting Barry Jekins’ 2017 Best Picture winner this week to mitigate January’s drought of new titles. No matter how many times you’ve seen the coming-of-age opus on the big screen, it’s never too many—so get thee to the Spring Garden movie house, stat. Screening until February 10 (with possibly more screenings to come once the theatre’s calendar updates), it’s part of the movie chain’s Black History Month slate.
Cineplex Park Lane, 5657 Spring Garden Road, Feb 8, 4:15pm & 6:45pm; Feb 9, 7pm & 9:30pm; Feb 10 9:55pm


Twenties

click to enlarge Hattie from Twenties.
Hattie from Twenties.
If you’ve been sleeping on Lena Waithe’s inside-out, upside-down take on the “best friends taking on a big city genre,” consider this your morning alarm to catch up on the show’s first season before the newly released season two makes it to Canada. The always hilarious, often steamy Twenties is a semi-autobiographical, crushable half-hour that follows Hattie and her two straight friends as they attempt to make their mark on LA. Come for the vibes Girls was aiming for but never achieved; stay for the knotty portraits of friendship and self-discovery.
Stream on CBC Gem, free


Icebreakers

Of the 64 Black History Month titles available on the National Film Board’s site, you can’t really make a bad choice. But this flick, released in early 2020, highlights the overlooked history of Black hockey players in the Maritimes. “I think this is sort of a moment of reckoning in hockey,” filmmaker Sandi Rankaduwa told The Coast when the film first dropped. Weaving between stories of present-day Black hockey players and historic African Nova Scotian teams, it’s a choice for both sport fans and history buffs.
Stream via the National Film Board’s site, free


The Gospel According to André

This 90-minute deep-dive into the life of fashion legend André Leon Talley is the perfect balm for super-fans who’ve been mourning the former Vogue editor’s January 2022 passing. Here, the crew behind the hit fashion doc The First Monday In May explore Talley’s larger-than-life aesthetic, far-reaching visual influence, and remarkable backstory from the Jim Crow-era South to the top of New York fashion.
Stream on CBC Gem, free


jeen-yus: A Kanye Story

click to enlarge Kanye West's legacy gets examined in new three-part doc.
Kanye West's legacy gets examined in new three-part doc.
In some ways, it feels a bit too early in the redemptive arc for any wrestling with the legacy of Kanye West: Doesn’t he have to exit his messy phase and get back to making timeless music, first? All the same, the first portion of the trilogy jeen-yus: A Kanye Story is dropping on Netflix soon. Comprising behind-the-scenes footage from early in his career—his days as heir apparent to Dilla’s beat making throne up to the beginning of his College Dropout album trilogy—the flick is directed by filmmakers Coodie & Chike (the duo that made the music video for West’s breakout hit, “Through The Wire”). The movie premiered at Sundance late last month and the buzz has only grown since. The first chapter lands on Netflix on February 16, with the two subsequent chapters arriving weekly thereafter.
Stream on Netflix starting Feb 16