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Rare Screening of First Black Images on Film in Chicago – May 7

Rare Screening of First Black Images on Film in Chicago - May 7

Back last
fall I posed what I thought was an intriguing question that rarely gets much
thought – what were the first black images on the screen? (HERE)

As I said
that it is a “rather hard question to answer. It’s elusive since so many silent
films made at the birth of cinema (circa mid-1890’s), are lost, destroyed,
thrown away or literally have rotted away, due to the unstable nitrate film
stock used back then, which deteriorates after a period time”.

There might
be no true definitive answer as to what was the first black image on screen but
“according to Professor Jacqueline Stewart of the University of Chicago Department
of Cinema and Media Studies in her 2005 book, “Migrating to the Movies:
Cinema and Black Urban Modernity,” there were Edison Kintoscope films of
popular black performers of the time, performing their stage acts, such as
music hall performer Elise Jones, who made two such films in November 1894, and
vaudevillian James Grundy, who also made two films for Edison company in
January 1895”.

Usually these
films are rarely screened or seen these days, but next month people in the
Chicago area will get a rare chance to see these early black images when the Film
Studies Center in the campus of the University of Chicago located at 5811 S. Ellis
will present “Scraps in Black and White”.

The scanning
will consist of early films from 1894-1915 known as “paper prints” from the Library
of Congress featuring featuring some of the earliest representations of Black
subjects on film, from Caribbean travelogues to blackface slapstick, from
boxing films to cakewalk performances.

The
screening will be accompanied by commentary by Professor Stewart, and music by
pianist David Drazin and will tak place on Thursday May 7 starting at 7PM and
the event is FREE to the public

This is a
once in a lifetime event of historical importance for anyone interested in
black cinema that you can’t afford to miss and for more info go HERE

Here’s a short example

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