Theme Month! February 2018: Pioneers of African American Cinema

I am so excited to be revisiting this topic! Last February, I dug into the Pioneers of African American Cinema box set released by Kino and had a wonderful, educational time.

For those of you unfamiliar with the collection, it is a selection of films starring (and in many cases produced and directed by) black Americans. Independent producers of what were called Race films had to fight and claw for every penny of their budgets and the untapped demand for entertainment aimed at African-American audiences meant that many of these films were quite literally played to death. Surviving films from the silent era are particularly rare and prized.

As a preview, here are the films I covered last year:

The Flying Ace (1926) A perfectly delightful adventure picture from the Norman film company in Jacksonville, Florida.

Two Knights of Vaudeville (1915) An early, controversial comedy that features real stage talent.


Body and Soul (1925) Oscar Micheaux directs Paul Robeson in this story of religious hypocrisy. A must-see.

Eleven P.M. (1928) Surely the strangest film in the set, Richard Maurice wrote, directed and starred in this tale of revenge.


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  1. Marie Roget

    In this morning’s New York Times (2/1/18) is a listing of “28 Days, 28 Films For Black History Month.” Beginning with Oscar Micheaux’s Within Our Gates are so many movies from the Pioneers of African-American Cinema boxed set I began to lose count. Also, don’t see any mention of said boxed set as (ahem, ahem!) a source for possibly viewing any of the boxed set films. Did I miss that reference or…?

    Link to NYT article:

    1. Fritzi Kramer

      Thanks! It looks like there’s a “Where to View” button on the desktop version of the article but I agree, the box should have been front and center. It’s responsible for much of my knowledge of African-American filmmakers, along with the out-of-print Origins of Film box.

    1. Fritzi Kramer

      Thanks. I don’t include links to subscription services like Netflix because they change their offerings the way the rest of us change socks and keeping up would be an impossible task. 🙂

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