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

Chicago Screening of Oldest Surviving Black Film ‘Lime Kiln Club Field Day’ on 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 in conjunction with
The Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture located at 915 E. 60th st

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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