Oscar Micheaux and Black Pre-War Cinema
February 6 – 19, 2009
The more you learn about Oscar Micheaux, the more remarkable he seems. A son of freed slaves, who left home early to become a successful farmer, writer, and publisher in South Dakota, he launched his own alternative cinema with his first film, based on his novel The Homesteader, in 1919. Over the next 20 years he would be the most prolific author among an essential core of black filmmakers who sought to simply affirm the presence of African-American lives and culture in a medium whose biggest producers only illustrated them as servants, comic relief, or, most frequently, villains. The fact that so many of Micheauxâ€™s films dealt with controversial and provocative subjectsâ€”racism, lynching, interracial romance, the â€œcolor barâ€ in the black community, corruption in black churchesâ€”makes his output almost miraculous.