This review essay examines the Film Society at Lincoln Center’s program Tell It Like It Is: Black Independents in New York, 1968–1986. Incorporating both television programs and cinematic (un)releases, Tell It Like It Is manages to highlight an often diminished or forgotten era in black image-making while also revealing a unique moment in television history. The double bind at the heart of such a program is the question of how to recognize and engage the wealth of material produced over the course of twenty years while still crafting a coherent series. By foregrounding testimonies from the past and standing as a testament to the failures of the present, this series challenges a film history that has repeatedly blotted out the work of black filmmakers.

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