Many original 16mm films: The Emancipation Proclamation -- Ethiopia: Ancient Land, Strategic Land -- Negro Slavery -- Sound of Sunshine, Sound of Rain (social propaganda film) -- Jesse Owens: 1936 Olympics -- William: From Georgia To Harlem -- Slavery and Slave Resistance -- Martin Luther King, Jr.: An Amazing Grace -- Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Assassin Years -- Afro American Music, It's Heritage, Cabin in the Sky -- and more...Many of these films are lost and will never be seen again. We are transferring these films to DVD so that we can play film clips in our galleries. Some transferred to DVD already:
-- (1) Palmour Street (1957) - This film stands apart from 99% of the educational film productions involving African-Americans in the mid-1950s because it portrays an African-American family that lives a normal life and the film itself lacks the typical racist narration and stereotypical scenarios. The gist of this movie is that good parenting practices make for healthier children. This is a great film for African-American studies. Length: 23 minutes
-- (2) We Work Again (1930s) - This WPA (Works Project Administration) film tries to convey that the New Deal is beneficial for African-Americans. Length: 11 minutes
-- (3) Farmer Henry Browne (1942) - This is a nice portrait of an African-American farmer in Georgia during WWII. Like other Americans assisting in the war effort domestically, Henry Browne uses productivity and hard work to support American troops. Length: 11 minutes
-- (4) Negro Colleges In Wartime (1944) - This short film about the training regiment of African American soldiers in WWII will strike up constructive educational dialogue about the racist treatment black American soldiers received during the WWII. Great video of African American military culture and history abounds in this film from the 40s, including footage of the historic Muskagee airmen. Watching the segregated military practices of this time period shows why the civil rights leaders, both during the Korean War and the Vietnam War, were very concerned with the mass enlistments of young African Americans. Length: 9 minutes
-- (5) With No One to Help Us (1967) - A group of welfare mothers in Newark form together to fight the overpricing of grocery items to welfare recipients. This is tremendously important documentary and a vital teaching tool for African American studies. Amazing historical documentation of the projects of Newark around the 1960s. Length: 19 minutes
-- (6) The Plantation System In Southern Life (1950) - See how the centuries of African American slavery has affected Southern culture and life in the South. A rare and invaluable piece of black history. Length: 10 minutes
-- (7) Teddy (1971) - A social seminar film that picks the brain of Teddy, a politically conscious teenage African American male. Teddy talks about police brutality, war, the Watts community of L.A., The Black Panthers and "The System." Nice unknown movie to show during black history month or to kick start any black history or political discussion. Length: 17 minutes
-- (8) Jesse Owens: 1936 Olympics - Jesse goes back to the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, recounting his accomplishments in August, 1936.
-- (9) The Birth of a Nation - This landmark film from silent director D.W. Griffith was the first movie blockbuster. However, it also reveals a horribly racist version of American history. The film was based on Thomas Dixon Jr.'s anti-black, 1905 bigoted play, The Clansman. The first part of the film chronicles the Civil War as experienced through the eyes of two families; the Stonemans from the North, and the Camerons of the South. Lifelong friends, they become divided by the Mason-Dixon line, with tragic results. Large-scale battle sequences and meticulous historical details culminate with a staged re-creation of Lincoln's assassination. The second half of the film chronicles the Reconstruction, as Congressman Austin Stoneman (Ralph Lewis) puts evil Silas Lynch (George Siegmann) in charge of the liberated slaves at the Cameron hometown of Piedmont. Armed with the right to vote, the freed slaves cause all sorts of trouble until Ben Cameron (Henry B. Walthall) founds the Ku Klux Klan and restores order and "decency" to the troubled land. While The Birth of a Nation was a major step forward in the history of filmmaking, it must be noted that the film supports a racist worldview. But there is no denying that it remains a groundbreaking achievement, setting a high watermark for film as an art form. Premiered at Clune's Auditorium in Los Angeles, February 8, 1915, under the title The Clansman. Premiered in New York City at the Liberty Theater on March 3, 1915, as The Birth of a Nation. The film toured the rest of the country as a road show attraction. In 1906, the same Liberty Theater had housed a run of Thomas Dixon's stage play, The Clansman, which was one of the sources for the film. At the New York premiere, Dixon stated that he would have "allowed none but the son of a Confederate soldier to direct the film version of The Clansman." (New York Times, 3/4/1915). The Birth of a Nation was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1992. The film originally ran 13,058 feet on 12 reels. At 16 frames per second, it ran approximately 185 minutes.
This landmark cinematic achievement features the first use of now-standard techniques like cross-cutting and deep focus, as well as the unprecedented long shot of the Lincoln assassination and a color sequence at the end. The Birth of a Nation was originally silent with a musical score. In 1930, the film was reissued with sound effects and synchronized music adapted from Joseph Carl Breil's original score, but at a much shorter length--108 minutes. Current prints run between 108 and 185 minutes, sometimes due to deleted footage, sometimes due to incorrect projection speeds. At some theaters, ticket prices cost up to $2 per seat, a record figure at the time. The Birth of a Nation was also reportedly the first film to utilize ushers. The film reportedly made $20 million dollars at the box office. Because the film's rights were simply sold outright in some states, accurate figures are difficult to obtain, and the film may have actually grossed $50 to $100 million. Director D.W. Griffith shot this film without a script or even written notes, saying that he had visualized the entire movie in his mind. One scene deleted from the end of the film professes to depict "Lincoln's Solution," in which African-Americans are shipped back to Africa, while Abraham Lincoln and Jesus Christ look approvingly on. From the moment the film premiered, the NAACP organized mass demonstrations against The Birth of a Nation; not only did black people object to its racial stereotypes, but they feared that its glorification of the Klan would lead to increased violence against African-Americans. In fact, the Klan used The Birth of a Nation to recruit new members, and its ranks supposedly swelled after screenings of the film. To his credit, Griffith later (by 1921) released a shortened, re-edited version of the film without references to the KKK.
-- Vintage brochure entitled, "D.W. Griffith Presents The Birth Of A Nation. An Historical Drama in Two Acts, Founded upon Thomas Dixon's story The Clansman." It goes on to state "There will be an intermission of eight minutes between Act I and Act II." The play is presented at Conn's Theatre, Concord, New Hampshire, September 16, 17, 18 (no year).
-- First Edition copy of "The Clansman", by Thomas Dixon. Published by Grossett and Dunlap in 1905.
-- (10) The Birth of a Race - A group of independent black filmmakers released director Emmett J. Scott's The Birth of a Race in 1919, filmed as a response to Griffith's film (Birth of a Nation), with a more positive image of African-Americans, but it was largely ignored. Filmed in Florida, New York, and Chicago, it cost $500,000, nearly five times The Birth of a Nation's budget, and was at least partially funded by the sale of stock. Birth of a Race was panned by Variety, who stated that it was "replete with historical inaccuracies, gross exaggerations, and bromidic appeals to patriotism," noting that the film was "full of rape, murder, and suicide." The film was directed by John W. Noble and written by Noble and Rudolph de Cordoba. It starred John Reinhardt, Jane Grey, George Le Guerre, Ben Hendricks, Gertrude Braun, and Mary Kennevan. The Birth of a Race was envisioned as an "answer" to D.W. Griffith's racist and inflammatory film, The Birth of a Nation. Unfortunately, due to cost overruns, mismanagement and the strings that came attached with white money, the film failed to achieve its original goals. The result was a film that was hardly about African-Americans at all, but about the struggle of white immigrants in this country. It was a failed attempt to counteract the damage that The Birth of a Nation caused to the image of the African-American. Even with its many shortcomings from both a technical as well as artistic standpoint, The Birth of a Race at least demonstrated that motion pictures were indeed a medium to be reckoned with that has an enormous capability to influence a large number of people. Prolific black filmmaker Oscar Micheaux's first film, the feature-length The Homesteader (1919), and Within Our Gates (1919) more effectively countered the message of Griffith's film.
-- (11) History of the Negro in America -- Two B/W 20-minute films: 1619-1860 and 1870-Today.
-- (12) Cabin in the Sky -- Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington and his orchestra! Movie stars Lena Horne and Ethel Water were in the movie.
-- (13) 1971 Pearl Bailey Show Vignettes. Guest Stars: Sid & Marty Kroffet's Puppets. Special Guest Star: Ethel Waters sings "His Eye Is On The Sparrow", "I'll Be There" (Duet with Pearl). Pearl sings: "Hello Dolly", "Walking My Baby Back Home", "Am I Blue", "Birth Of The Blues", "Bill Bailey", This Is All I Ask" and more...B&W. 50 minutes.
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