Just a reminder folks…
Oscar Michaeux and The Johnson brothers (Noble and
George) weren’t the only filmmakers making race films during the silent film
There was also The Colored Players Film Corporation based
in Philadelphia, which was created by a former black vaudevillian Sherman
Dudley (who wanted to make “films free of black stereotypes”)and a white
theater owner named David Starkman. The company made four films from 1926 to
However, only two of the four still exist today: Ten
Nights in a Barroom, a black cast film version of a very popular anti-drinking
play of the day, and The Scar of Shame.
It is Shame that has endured, not only because it’s one
of the most technically accomplished race films of the silent film era, but
also because of its still quite controversial premise of class, and how, in
effect, those at the top and the rest at the bottom, should never interact, or
else face dire consequences for themselves and the betterment of the black
It tells the story of Alvin, an up and coming young black
striver from a well-to-do family (even with their own black butler) who is
eventually driven to despair, disgrace and near ruin, due to a lower class
woman, Louise, he saves from her abusive father and his gambler friend, and
whom he later marries.
fter a series of dramatic sequences of events, Louise
comes to the realization that her “lower caste” status will prevent Alvin from
his rightful station in life, and his destiny to further the black race.
Needless to say, not only is the film still provocative
after some 86 years later, it is, in many ways, as relevant and controversial
today as it was when it was first released.
The Black Cinema House in Chicago (located at 6901 S.
Dorchester) will screen the film this Saturday, Sept 7th starting at 6PM, with
yours truly introducing and discussing the film afterwards.
The screening is part of BCH’s Experimental Sound series;
and since it is a silent film, there will be live music accompaniment with the
film, performed by Peter Speer on the modular synthesizer, and other electronic
instruments, and Alejandro Acierto on the contrabass clarinet.
Seating is limited so you must RSVP HERE.
Hope to see you there