Chauncey -Theater 1 Thu, Jan 19, 2023 7:00 PM
Series Info
Series:Special Event
Film Info
Rating:Not Rated
Runtime:79 minutes
Director:Oscar Micheaux
Year Released:1920
Production Country:USA


Our health and safety policies may have recently changed. Click HERE to learn more.

Featuring the Alvin Cobb Jr. trio in person performing Cobb's original score and a post-screening panel discussion

A Martin Luther King Jr. Week event presented in partnership with the Bijou Film Board

Co-Sponsored by the University of Iowa Departments of English, Cinematic Arts, Anthropology, Theatre Arts, School of Music, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, Center for Human Rights, and The Black Visual Culture Working Group    

Tickets offered on a Pay-What-You-Can sliding scale

"Oscar Micheaux demonstrates mastery of the silent form."—Fred Camper, Chicago Reader

"Micheaux's narrative manner is as daring as his subject matter, with bold flashbacks and interpolations amplifying the story."—Richard Brody, New Yorker

This is the earliest surviving feature film by an African-American director. It was Oscar Micheaux’s second film (after 1919’s The Homesteader, now lost), and involves an idealistic young woman named Sylvia Landry (Evelyn Preer) who attempts to raise money for an elementary school to serve the black community (a premise that would be echoed in Micheaux’s Birthright [1938]). In the course of navigating the racial politics of both the black and white communities, Sylvia’s past is revealed in a series of flashbacks that contain the film’s most notorious sequence: the lynching of her parents by a white mob. Micheaux’s staging of the scene is startling in its bluntness and speaks volumes about the director’s fearlessness and willingness to address taboo subject matter. The film touches upon other themes that would recur throughout the controversial filmmaker’s career, such as the promise of rural life vs. the corruptive influence of the city, and the use of religion as a means of misleading the black community.

The post-screening panel will feature a recently identified scene from The Trooper of Troop K—the earliest known surviving footage from a Black film company in American history. Produced by the Lincoln Motion Picture Company in 1916, it is a vivid illustration of the creativity and innovation of early African American filmmakers, and their important contributions to the history of American cinema.

Mastered in HD from 35mm film elements preserved by The Library of Congress, acquired by the American Film Institute from the Filmoteca Española, Madrid.