by Brian Bergen-Aurand
On this day in Black History Month, I want to introduce a ninety-minute documentary from the 1990s that aims a provide an overview of one hundred years of black cinema. The documentary is wholly centered on Hollywood and the denial or access black talent has had in terms of Hollywood. Even the chapter on alternative cinema veer toward treating those cinemas as “alternatives to Hollywood.” So, the perspective is limited.
With that said, though, I do recommend this survey of mainstream cinema from the United States and the shifting sensibilities and images of black cinemas with regard to that mainstream. It is a film I have often recommended students watch on their own to fill in any gaps in their knowledge of the history of black cinema. Almost always, they have come back to tell me there was so much they never knew.