On Sky Arts there are two excellent summer-themed documentaries that are well worth a watch. Long Hot Summers – The Story of The Style Council follows the formation Paul Weller’s band following the split up of The Jam, with some great unseen footage and excellent contributions from fans, band members and collaborators. The Summer of Love tells the story of the cultural, social, and political changes that were brought about following the 1967 Summer of Love in San Francisco. Also on Sky Arts is the BAFTA winning spoken word show Life and Rhymes, presented by Benjamin Zephaniah, which showcases the best of Britain’s new and young poets.
If true crime is your thing Netflix offers This is a Robbery, an intriguing look at one of the world’s biggest art heists – the multi-million robbery of the fascinating and beautiful Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in the heart of Boston. Sophie – A Murder in West Cork is a British docu-series about the confounding 1996 murder of French woman Sophie Toscan du Plantier who was killed while staying at her vacation home in Ireland, which led to a case of international legal battles.
It may be over 30 years old now but Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing, currently screening on Amazon Prime, is worth revisiting a year on from George Floyd and BLM. Although at times slight and light-hearted, it highlights how little has changed in American neighbourhoods. And, of course, the BBC’s excellent series Small Axe, written and directed by Steve McQueen, is still available to watch on iPlayer. All four real-life dramas tell a different story of racism in Britain.
Another offering from Steve McQueen is the brilliant series is Uprising on iPlayer. It examines the interconnected legacies of three events from 1981. It features the New Cross Fire which killed 13 young black party goers, the Black People’s Day of Action that involved a mass protest organised by black activists, and the Brixton Riots.
Pride on Disney+ is a six-part docu-series chronicling the fight for LGBT+ civil rights in America through rich archive footage and interviews. The series spans the FBI surveillance of LGBT+ people in the 1950s. It tells the story of the Lavender scare, the first Gay Pride march in the 1970s, the Aids crisis, and the culture wars of the 1990s. Significantly, it also shines a welcome spotlight on the ongoing fight for trans rights.
Philly DA: Breaking the Law on iPlayer is an eight-part series following the election of outsider and progressive prosecutor Larry Krasner to become District Attorney of Philadelphia. It is one of the most incarcerated cities in the US. The series opens in autumn 2017 as civil rights attorney Krasner launches his bid, much to the amazement of the District Attorney’s office—an institution he had spent much of his career suing. And it isn’t long before he causes more controversy by opposing cash bail and capital punishment.
Finally a podcast. Seizing Freedom features epic stories of Black people who fought for their liberty and transformed American after the Civil War. Using first hand accounts from diaries, newspapers, speeches, and letters, this is a narrated docu-drama about the failures and successes of the Reconstruction era, told by those who made it happen.