Pioneers of African-American Cinema — Now on DVD

Posted on August 17, 2016 at 3:18 pm

The 5-disc set Pioneers of African-American Cinema, funded via Kickstarter, is a treasure of rarely-seen films from pioneering filmmakers like Oscar Micheaux. The New York Times wrote, “From the perspective of cinema history — and American history, for that matter — there has never been a more significant video release.”

These were known as “race films,” made in an era where the few mainstream roles for performers of color were sometimes cut entirely out of the films when they were shown in the South, and a small group of black filmmakers made films with all-black casts that were created for black audiences. The Blu-Ray set includes archival treasures.

There is also “The Moses Sisters Interview,” a 33-minute videotape made by the historian Pearl Bowser in the late 1970s that features the performers Ethel, Lucia and Julia Moses reminiscing about their careers. Other documentaries include the 1937 Works Project Administration short “We Work Again,” with footage from Orson Welles’s all-black Federal Theater Project’s production of “Macbeth,” and excerpts from fieldwork footage the novelist Zora Neale Hurston shot in the South as part of her ethnographic research.

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Film History Movie History Race and Diversity