The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures' new exhibition, “Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898 -1971,” opened on August 21st and runs through April 9th, 2023. Regeneration comprises seven galleries dedicated to: exploring the social and political situation of Black Americans at the dawn of cinema in the United States; the representation of Black people in early cinema from 1897 to 1915; pioneering independent Black filmmakers such as Oscar Micheaux and “race films,” made for Black audiences from the 1910s to the 1940s; Black music in American film, including “soundies” and Black musicals; Black stars and film icons; cinematic stories reflecting the freedom movements; and the daring and pioneering paths Black film directors blazed during the civil rights movement. (See previous article about the exhibit.)
The accompanying screening series, "Regeneration: An Introduction," began on August 25th and runs through Thursday, September 29th. Covering the same 70+ year span as the exhibition, this film series ranges from showcasing silent era pioneers such as writer-producer-director Oscar Micheaux’s low-budget dramas to the groundbreaking allegories of Spencer Williams and the independently produced, genre-defying works of innovators such as Melvin Van Peebles. Upcoming screenings in the program include Daniel Petrie's "A Raisin in the Sun" and Gordon Parks' "The Learning Tree" on Friday, September 23rd, Melvin Van Peebles' "La permission (The Story of a Three-Day Pass)" and Michale Roemer's "Nothing But a Man" on Saturday, September 24th, and Melvin Van Peebles' "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song" and Robert L. Goodwin's "Black Chariot" on September 29th.
Past screenings in the program included Spencer Williams' "The Blood of Jesus," Harry Fraser's "Dark Manhattan," Spencer Williams' "Dirty Gertie from Harlem U.S.A.", William L. Nolte's "The Duke is Tops," Dudley Murphy's "The Emperor Jones," Richard E. Norman's "The Flying Ace," Oscar Micheaux's "The Girl from Chicago," Eloyce and James Gist's "Hell-Bound Train," Oscar Micheaux's "Murder in Harlem," Pierre Chenal's "Native Son," Joseph L. Mankiewicz's "No Way Out," Robert Wise's "Odds Against Tomorrow," Edmond T. Gréville's "Princess Tam Tam," Leo C. Popkin's "Reform School," Andrew L. Stone's "Stormy Weather" and Ranald MacDougall's "The World, the Flesh and the Devil."
Throughout the development of the exhibition, co-curators Doris Berger and Rhea Combs collaborated with an advisory group of distinguished scholars, curators, and filmmakers including the Academy Museum's Director and President Jacqueline Stewart; Charles Burnett, filmmaker and Academy member; Ava DuVernay filmmaker and Academy Governor; Michael Boyce Gillespie, Associate Professor at The City College of New York in the Department of Media and Communication Arts; Shola Lynch, filmmaker, Academy member and Curator at the New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; Ron Magliozzi, Curator of Film at The Museum of Modern Art; and Ellen C. Scott, Associate Professor and Head of Cinema and Media Studies at UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television.
For more information on the upcoming exhibition, Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898-1971, visit the official site of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.
Editor's Note: Ebert Digital is among the sponsors for the Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898–1971 exhibit.