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Coloring Independently

CAAM celebrates African American cinematic moments from the 1940's through an independent lens.

This exhibition features over 80 film stills and related photographs from the museum's unique collection of African American films from the 1940's, a time of limited character roles and access to the mainstream movie industry. Typically referred to as "Race Films," these independent productions were created with a black cast and for an African American audience. Come explore the distinct images and stories told more than 65 years ago as part of the broader African American filmmaking tradition. Among the films selected are Beware (1946), showcasing musical pioneer Louis Jordan, The Betrayal (1948), directed and written by Oscar Micheaux, and I Ain't Gonna Open That Door (1949), starring Stepin Fetchit.

Exhibition Programs

Thursday, August 27, 2015, 6PM
Opening Reception
Resurrecting a Lost Landmark of Black Film History & Lime Kiln Club Field Day /Presentation & Film Screening

LIME KILN DAY 4At a challenging time of segregation in the fall of 1913, a virtuoso cast of African American performers led by famed Caribbean American entertainer Bert Williams (1874 - 1922) gathered in the Bronx to make a feature-length motion picture. After more than an hour of film was shot, the unreleased project was abandoned by its white producers and left forgotten until today. Found in Museum of Modern Art, New York Biograph Studio collection, the seven reels of untitled and unassembled footage represent the earliest known surviving feature with a cast of black actors. Shot at locations in New York and New Jersey, the comedy centers on Williams's efforts to win the hand of the local beauty, and boasts among its highlights a two-minute exhibition dance sequence and a cutting-edge display of onscreen affection between its black leads. The Museum's restoration of this lost landmark of film history contains an hour-long assemblage of daily rushes and multiple takes. Ron Magliozzi, Associate Curator, Department of Film, MoMA, narrates a selection of unique photographs from the pioneering production and present visual material explaining the film's creation, 101-year disappearance, and ultimate resurrection.

Presentation followed by silent film with piano accompaniment. RSVP (213) 744-2056.

Bert Williams Lime Kiln Club Field Day. 1913/2014. USA. Produced by Biograph Co. for Klaw and Erlanger. Directors Edwin Middleton, T. Hayes Hunter, Sam Corker Jr. With Bert Williams, Odessa Warren Grey, Henry Troy, Walker Thompson, and members of the Frogs and J. Leubrie Hill's Darktown Follies Company.