Hollywood Reflects on Race in Year of Black, Civil Rights Films

Director Lee Daniels attends the New York premiere of his film 'The Butler' at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York in this August 5, 2013, file photo. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/Files

(Reuters) – Race in America has been a hot topic of debate this summer and Hollywood, as if on cue, has muscled its way into the conversation.

This year is shaping up to be a big one in film for African American, black and civil rights themes, offering audiences different lenses through which to consider the complex question of racial equality, both historically and in the present day.

In 2011, Hollywood had “The Help,” a story of the civil rights struggle among maids in 1960s Mississippi, and in 2012, director Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” produced a novel take on slavery. Both were nominated for best picture Oscars and did well at the box office.

In 2013, there are half a dozen films to choose from, several from black directors. They include civil rights drama “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” which has led the box office for the past two weekends, and Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave,” the true story of free man who is enslaved, which premieres in October.

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