Kino Lorber aims to restore a vital, overlooked segment of cinema history in its upcoming theatrical and Blu-ray/DVD release entitled, "Pioneers of African-American Cinema." Curated by film historians Charles Musser and Jacqueline Stewart, the collection was originally set to include eight features along with short films, fragments and new interviews, and had launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funding on February 4th. After meeting its initial goal of $35,000 in just over a week, Kino Lorber has now expanded its campaign with plans to raise a "stretch goal" of $60,000 by the deadline of Saturday, March 21st. The additional funding will enable the inclusion of four more features in the set, as well as assist in archival access, mastering and scoring.
"The message we take away from this is that the public has been hungry for a collection like this," said Kino Lorber CEO Richard Lorber. "To pay them back for their support, we're going to double down and give them an unforgettable box set—one we believe will offer a significant contribution to film history."
Some of the features planned to be included in the collection are Oscar Micheaux's 1919 masterpiece, "Within Our Gates," 1920's daring film on the Ku Klux Klan, "The Symbol of the Unconquered" (featuring a score by jazz drummer Max Roach), 1926's adventure serial, "The Flying Ace," 1928's previously unavailable "Eleven P.M.", 1929's dramatization of class issues, "The Scar of Shame," 1932's romance, "The Girl from Chicago," Spencer Williams's 1941 directorial debut, "The Blood of Jesus," and 1946's musical, "Dirty Gertie from Harlem, U.S.A." Among the potential shorts and fragments are an excerpt from 1921's "By Right of Birth" (the only surviving film from the Lincoln Motion Picture Company), a reel of Richard Norman's heavily-censored 1923 drama, "Regeneration," James and Eloyce Gist's 1929 cinematic sermon, "Hellbound Train," 1930's "Verdict Not Guilty" (the first film directed by an African-American woman), the existing reels of Micheaux's 1939 "Birthright" and Zora Neale Hurston's 1940 chronicle of worship services, "Commandment Keeper Church."
For more information on the Pioneers of African-American Cinema campaign, or to back the project, visit its official Kickstarter page.