Black Cinema: the Filmmakers Edition


First Black Filmmaker

Oscar Micheaux may not be the namesake of the Oscar award, but he is a legend in the film world. Upon producing The Homesteader in 1919, Micheaux became the first black in America to produce a feature film. Not only was he the first black to produce a feature film, but he was also the first to produce a film to be shown in white-only movie theaters. He used his status as producer to create films to attack the overt racism of other films during his time (such as The Birth of a Nation). During his lifetime, 44 feature-length films were written, produced, and directed by Micheaux. In addition, he authored a national best selling novel, along with 6 other novels. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and in 2010 a commemorative stamp was issued in his honor.[1][2]

Other Black Filmmakers

Julie Dash made history in 1991 when she became the first black woman to produce a full-length film--Daughters of the Dust--with a general theatrical release. The movie was filmed in the Gullah dialect and contains some subtitles.[3][4] Steve McQueen, along with Lee Daniels and John Singleton are currently the only blacks to be nominated for the Best Director Oscar.[5] Unfortunately, no one has snagged that award yet.  Steve McQueen may not have broken that record, but he did make history when his film, 12 Years a Slave, won Best Picture, making it the first black-directed film to win the award.[6]

A Little Extra History on Minorities & The Oscars

Latinos and Hispanics have been breaking records at the Oscars recently, and I thought I'd take a minute to give them a spotlight. For starters, the Oscar might actually be modeled after Emilio Fernandéz, a Mexican director.[7][8] Last year (2014), Alfonso Cuarón became the first Mexican to win an Oscar for Best Director (beating out Steve McQueen--but I'm just happy it went to another minority) for Gravity. This year, Birdman, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, became the first movie directed by a Latino to win Best Picture.[9]

Ang Lee became the first Asian (and the first non-European) to win Best Director in 2005 for Brokeback Mountain. He won the award again in 2012 for Life of Pi.[10]

References

  1. "Oscar Micheaux Biography". IMDB; visited 2015
  2. Kenji. "Notable Black Directors". Mubi; visited 2015
  3. "Julie Dash Biography". UCLA Film and Television Archive; visited 2015
  4. Rita Kempley. "Daughters of the Dust". Washington Post. February 28, 1992
  5. Andrew Pulver. "Will Steve McQueen Win the Oscar for Best Director?". The Guardian. January 17, 2014
  6. Jace Jacob. "12 Years A Slave" Wins Best Picture And Makes Oscars History". Buzzfeed. March 3, 2014
  7. "Should Oscar really be called Emilio? Meet the Mexican model whose physique inspired the famous gold statues". Daily Mail. February 24, 2013
  8. Shereen Marisol Meraji. Latin Pride Swells For Mystery Model Behind Oscar Statuette". NPR. March 2, 2014
  9. "Birdman: A Proud Mexican's Spot-On Take On Hollywood Sweeps Oscars". NBC News. February 2015
  10. "Ang Lee Biography". IMDB; visited 2015

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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