24 January 2011


United States - 1935
Director - Oscar Micheaux
Starring - Bee Freeman, Sol Johnson and Oscar Polk

Director Micheaux is something of a US film hero, being the first Black man to direct a feature film. It does not however stop there, in his films he actively and deliberately challenged Black stereotypes that were popular in film and elsewhere at the time. As a child of the VHS era, movies of this early age are sometimes difficult to stick through. As a true historian of film however, Micheaux's films are fascinating studies in social context.
In 2010 the United States Postal Service issued an Oscar Micheaux stamp as part of the Black Heritage Series. If you missed it (I did), you can see the home page while it lasts. As a widely respected film maker, there is quite a Micheaux following out there, if you find yourself inclined, you can start here.
Many of Micheaux's films are available on DVD from a popular online movie service, many others can be had for a song online.
In his fantastic study of Black cinema, Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies & Bucks, film historian Donald Bogle describes Micheaux (among other iconic Black film personalities) with his own chapter. Micheaux was something of a renaissance man, writing, publishing and distributing his own books, one of which, The Homesteader became his first film, and the first feature film directed by a Black American.

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