Next week, Black Film Archive – a living registry of the Black cinema – will officially turn six months old. Its roots, however, stretch much further, dating back to the time when its founder, Maya Cade, was studying journalism at Howard University. There she edited the literary section of the student newspaper, The Hilltop.
“While I was exploring my profound definitions of Darkness, in this all-Black dimension, for the first time, I was able to see the possibility of Darkness happening rather than just a burden.” Cade said. “That really shaped the way I watch movies, the level of interest I want to put in the Black Film Archive.”
The archive, which now contains around 200 works, now features works made between 1915 and 1979 available to stream. And Cade, an audience development strategist at the Criterion Collection, received simultaneous distinctions from both the New York Society of Film Critics and the National Association of Film Critics for her work on the project.
We asked Cade to pick a favorite movie from various decades in the archives, which she describes as “a look at Black’s reputation through time”. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
King Vidor was a respected Hollywood director who set out to make an audio film depicting the religious experience of Black people. And movieI think, even though it’s based on familiar stereotypes of Blacks – like content workers, jezebels, religious over-religators – I think the film is essential because it showcases the wide range of skills of Black performers, and specifically allowed Nina Mae McKinney to establish an archetype of what Black women might appear on screen.
This movie explore the Black religious experience. It is told through a series of fables in a Sunday class. The film recounts miraculous events in the Bible through vignettes. And even though the movie is tinged with stereotypes, I think it’s listed here, because it showcases the talent of its outstanding, all-Black cast.
I think what happens especially when Black people watch movies is that we can often capture what we see in our experience. And I think this movie is a good example of that. Even when we ran into trouble with the film’s overall message, we were able to take what we thought was redeemable and cherish that.
I am a huge fan of Zora Neale Hurston. I was almost named Zora. I think, even though Zora Neale Hurston is best known for her role-playing novels as an author, she’s got a lot to offer. I often review her widely popularized films, even though she has more than two or three films in constant discussion. And I think this movie is special because there aren’t many movies in this decade where black people are allowed to be insiders.
She’s a filmmaker, but she acts as an insider among the people she’s filmed, which I think is pretty special. And she is observing the religious practices of the South Carolina Gullah in this short. And I think this short is an introduction to her most famous skill, which we all know her, which is daring to see Black’s whole life without translation.
I am intrigued by this movie great number of. This is the era of Sidney Poitier, it’s the era of integrated painting, but I’m also contemplating “World, Flesh, and Demons,” as a motion picture like an episode of “Twilight Zone” and featuring Harry Belafonte at the center. the heart of a post-apocalyptic, just barren world. And in this world, he meets two other – white – people, and they seem to be the last people left.
And even if that were true, Harry Belafonte had to navigate the race and established sex politics of the day, which I think is really fascinating: If you think about what I call a picture integrated picture, then you actually have this stock of images of what Negroes can do in movies, which has a different kind of plot, which I’m very excited about.
I think so This movie is special because it features Sammy Davis Jr in a dramatic role as a drunken trumpet player who suffers from the racism he faces while performing, his poor health, his nervous temper his giant. But I think the film is very special to me because of the way it shows the struggle with the necessity of working while trying to form your own freedom of thought.
So if I’m thinking about a movie in the Civil Rights era, I think this is just another way to get into the era of those movies. And I think Cicely Tyson is also great as someone who always believes in him despite his difficulties. And it has Ossie Davis and Louis Armstrong; it’s really great.
I just consider “Claudine” to become an overall win. Diahann Carroll as the title character is a mother of six and housekeeper just trying to make sense of the world. And I think the film is irresistible in the way it examines what love means – whether it’s yourself, your family, your budding romance in a world of unexpected choices. possibilities faced by Blacks.
This movie really represents the fullness of the archive: It has joy, it has pain, it has love, it has loss, it has heartache, it has the difficulties that black people have to deal with. face. And it’s really special to me because it provides a glimpse into these issues without belittling people for facing them.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/16/movies/black-film-archive-highlights.html Six highlights from the black film archive