Second showing: unearthing the lost history of African American cinema

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Nearly 500 ‘race films’ were produced in the US between 1915 and 1952 but lost due to a combination of neglect and poor preservation, yet a new project shines spotlight on the early 20th-century films of Oscar Micheaux and others


James and Eloyce Gist’s 1931 film Hellbound Train. Photograph: Courtesy Film Forum, via Kino Lorber

Working independently of the Hollywood studio system, film-makers began making films for de jure segregated theatres in the south, and de facto segregated theatres in the north. At the movement’s height, there were more than 1,000 theatres in America that screened black-audience films either exclusively or on a preferential basis. Nearly 500 “race films” were produced in the United States between 1915 and 1952 and many of them are now lost due to a combination of neglect and poor preservation.

via Second showing: unearthing the lost history of African American cinema | The Guardian

+Commentary: In the early 90s the AFI (American Film Institute) in Washington, DC did a whole retrospective on Oscar Micheaux’s films and it was quite the history lesson to watch. Amazing pieces, full of some really incredible moments and representations that even today in the #OscarsSoWhite era would we be hard pressed to find their equal. Certainly not in a Tyler Perry movie, or whatever. For anyone who hasn’t seen them, and for archivist worldwide, hopefully we can get them digitized, restored and added to the pop culture visual vocabulary.