GANJA & HESS (1973) Stream on Amazon Prime, Kanopy, Mubi and Shudder. Horror as a vehicle for deeper societal commentary may be having a moment with the success of films like “Get Out” and “Parasite,” but it’s not a new phenomenon. During the Black independent film movement of the 1970s and ’80s, the actor, playwright and filmmaker Bill Gunn made this low-budget vampire flick about an anthropologist who develops an unquenchable thirst for blood after being stabbed with a cursed dagger. But it is “less a horror film than a sensual, scholarly, magic-realist exploration of Black history and Black desire,” A.O. Scott wrote of the film for The New York Times. Spike Lee added his take to a remake with “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus” in 2014.
SCHEME BIRDS (2019) Rent or buy on Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play and Vimeo. This coming-of-age documentary follows Gemma, a Scottish teenager who’s kicked out of her home after she gets pregnant. Gemma works to raise her son in a loving and hopeful environment, despite being surrounded by chaos and violence in her decaying town.
What’s on TV
OUTCRY 10 p.m. on Showtime. In 2013, Greg Kelley, an 18-year-old high school football phenom, was about to start his senior year when allegations of sexual assault against him surfaced. Despite maintaining his innocence, that year Kelley was convicted of aggravated sexual assault against a child and sentenced to 25 years in prison without the possibility of parole. In the years that followed, the filmmaker Pat Kondelis interviewed Kelley’s family, his supporters, the local police chief, the prosecutors, the defense lawyers, and his former coaches and classmates to capture how the case divided the small town of Leander, Texas. The five-part mini-series looks at how the case was handled.
LUCY WORSLEY’S ROYAL MYTHS & SECRETS 8 p.m. on PBS. The entertainment industry has long found inspiration among history’s royal leading ladies. But some of the most popular TV and film depictions, like “The Favourite” or “Marie Antoinette,” take creative liberties when it comes to the myths or rumors that surround these historical figures. As the chief curator of the Historic Royal Palaces, Lucy Worsley tries to separate fact from fiction as the host of this three-part series. In the season finale, Worsley revisits the story of Marie Antoinette, the French monarch who is often blamed for sparking the French Revolution.
AMERICA: OUR DEFINING HOURS 9 p.m. on History. During America’s current critical moment of pandemic and social unrest, this series revisits other periods of crisis in the nation’s history. The show examines how the country has overcome instances of adversity and tragedy — including the landing of the Mayflower and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — and the societal shifts that followed. Through re-enactments and expert interviews, the leadership and collaborations of presidents, generals, explorers and ordinary Americans who helped guide the country in these precarious moments come into focus.