One of the
most unexpected stories in the film world this year was the surprise hit of the
newly restored 1970 documentary “Lord Thing.” The film, which chronicles the transformation of the notorious West Side Chicago street gang, the Conservative
Vice Lords into a political force, played to sold out houses in various venues, which is not bad for a 44 year old film, which had not been seen in literally
work was done by the Chicago Film Archives, which was awarded a grant in 2012 from
the National Film Preservation Foundation, to preserve two 16mm films that
document the activities and social-political transformation of the Vice Lords.
And the Chicago
Film Archive, which, this week will be celebrating its tenth anniversary, is a unique intuition whose mission is to preserve and catalogue thousands of films including
documentaries, experimental, news footage, educational, industrial and even
forgotten films were donated by various sources, including museums, libraries, archivists and film collectors, and they chronicle
some aspect of Midwest life and culture, including urban life, the arts, sports and
more, from the earliest 20th century, to today.
Nancy Watrous, who is the Archive’s current executive director, the archive
houses some 20,000 films (the earliest being from 1903) and over 100 individual
to say, many of the films in the Archive’s collection deal with issues related to black people, from family life, culture, urban strife, politics and civil rights; like the 1966 film, “Cicero March,” which documents Martin Luther King Jr.’s trip to Cicero, IL, just
across the Chicago city limits, to push for fair housing. However, he
and his supporters were met with such a viciousness and hostility in Cicero, and Chicago, that even Dr. King
himself said was worse than what he had encountered in the South. The film was
selected last December to join the list of films in the National Film Registry, for being of significant historical and cultural importance.
up a subject that I have brought up before – that so many older films dealing with
black life and culture, whether professional or amateur, are slowly being lost
due to neglect; something must be done to save and preserve them, or else entire
generations of black history will be lost forever.
Fortunately, the Chicago Film Archives is doing extraordinarily
important and necessary work to preserve, maintain these
films for future generations, so that the national heritage, including the African American experience, will have access to a still vibrant look into
You can check out the Archives’ website HERE. Take a look
at Cicero March below: