By G. William Jones
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Extra resources for Black cinema treasures: lost and found
And as long as Hollywood isn't about that, we need some other venue, some way that groups who have a cultural statement to make can make it on film, can make it on video. We still need independent, black film expressiondesperately. The Decline of Black Filmmaking in the Fifties The sixties and seventies provided a change, a watershed in the American experience. When the laws and customs of segregationthose rules which barred us out and made it necessary for us to produce our own films in the first placewere dismantled, we were able to go into any theater, any restaurant, to become students at any universities that we might want.
Although we may still see some "stereotyping" in the films they made, it is not the ethnic stereotyping which marred many, if not most, of the Hollywood studio films of the same era. There was no need for such pandering to white prejudices, because the audience as well as the casts would be black. Of the twenty-two separate titles represented in this collection, fifteen of them have a black artist as either producer, director, or screenwriter, and the majority of those have either a black writer-director or a black producer-director.
So I said I would come to Tyler, a city some 85 miles east of Dallas, as soon as I could. That weekend in their warehouse, I saw a stack of octagonal steel film cans ten feet high, ten feet deep and ten feet wide sitting in a corner. It was obvious that these were films indeed, of the 35-millimeter size which are shown in theaters. My heart sank when I opened the first can I could get to, because a yellow-brown cloud of nitrate dust billowed out at me, signifying that at least some of these films were on pre-1950 nitrate stock, and were already in a state of decomposition.