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Chicago Screening of Oldest Surviving Black Feature Film ‘Lime Kiln Club Field Day’ on Friday May 15

Chicago Screening of Oldest Surviving Black Feature Film ‘Lime Kiln Club Field Day’ on Friday May 15

Last fall there was huge excitement among film
historians, black film historians, black historians and basically just anyone
interested in the history of movies.

The Museum of Modern Art in New York announced
that they had found in their Biograph Studio silent film collection what is
believed to the oldest known surviving black film ever made “Lime Kiln Club
Field Day”.

Shot in Bronx in 1913, the film, which was based
on a collection of stories known as “Brother Gardener’s Lime Kiln Club” was
left unfinished by the producers of the film and was literally forgotten until
it was discovered practically by accident when an assistant curator and a
preservation officer found the footage among other Biograph silent films than
had been in storage and unseen in the MoMA’s archives for decades

Starring the legendary and pioneering black
vaudevillian and comic Bert Williams (who the great comedian W.C Fields once
said of him that “he was the funniest man I ever saw and the saddest man I ever
knew”) the seven reels of untitled and unassembled footage deals with
Williams’s efforts among other suitors to win the hand of the local beauty,
“and boasts among its highlights a two-minute exhibition dance sequence and a
cutting-edge display of onscreen affection between its black leads”.

And as Tambay reported back in December (HERE)
the film was selected for inclusion in the Library of Congress’ National Film
Registry for 2014 as a film that is “culturally, historically or aesthetically”
significant

Now after making its premiere screening in New
York last November, the film will be screened in Chicago for the first time
next month on Friday May 15 starting at 7PM at the Logan Center of the Arts at
the University of Chicago located at 915 E. 60th St. in conjunction with The Center for the Study of Race,
Politics and Culture.

Professor Jacqueline Najuma Stewart of the U of
C’s Dept. of Cinema and Media Studies will introduce the film and a live
original musical score will be performed by Theaster Gates and the Black Monks
of Mississippi.

Admission is free but advance tickets are requested and to get
them go HERE

And here is a brief clip from the film with the
cast doing a sort of early version of the “Soul Train” line.

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