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Pioneering Directors of African American Cinema

April 12 – May 29, 2017

Still image from Dirty Gertie from Harlem USA
Still image from Dirty Gertie from Harlem USA. 1946. Directed by Spencer Williams.

In the early years of cinema, African American filmmakers were marginalized into creating “race films” targeted for Black audiences in segregated theatres. Despite being poorly funded, these directors strove to create films that rejected African American stereotypes presented by Hollywood, and to feature subject matter relevant to Black lives at the time. Although largely forgotten, some of these artists are being reconsidered by art historians and scholars. This exhibition features clips from films made by three such African American directors between the 1910s and the 1940s.

This presentation was organized by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in collaboration with the Bentonville Film Festival and Kino Lorber, Inc.