Pioneers of African-American Cinema

Kino Lorber recently released Pioneers of African-American Cinema, a five DVD set with extensive film notes.  An announcement of the collection’s release appeared in The New York Times (August 10, 2016), in which the film critic, J. Hoberman, stated that “there has never been a more significant video release” in cinema history.  This set includes films discovered and collected by the late SMU professor G. William Jones, which are part of the Tyler, Texas “race films” in the collection. It includes approximately 20 hours of feature films, shorts, interviews, trailers, and fragments.  Many of these films have only been circulated and seen in 16mm versions of inferior quality or have never been available for home video.  Each film has been digitally restored and reflects a wide-range of subject matter and styles.  Accompanying the set is an 80-page booklet with contributions from scholars.

Film still from Dirty Gertie from Harlem, U.S.A. (1946)

Of the films contributed to the Kino Lorber project from The G. William Jones Film and Video Collection in the Hamon Arts Library are The Blood of Jesus (1941), directed by and starring Spencer Williams, who later earned fame as Andy in television’s Amos and Andy; Dirty Gertie from Harlem, U.S.A. (1946), starring Francine Everette and Spencer Williams; and a promotional film, The Tyler, Texas Black Film Collection, (1985) which recounts the unexpected discovery by Jones of these vintage films in a Tyler warehouse.

This collection, which is a significant contribution to black film history, is available through SMU’s library catalog.

Thank you to Jolene de Verges, Director, Hamon Arts Library, for this contribution!

Featured image: courtesy of Jolene de Verges

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