Birth of Black Film: Wins Best Documentary, PhilaFilm 2016

Share Article

Landmark film features: "A Cinema Apart" collection of African American films and memorabilia amassed by the late Larry Richards. Memorabilia collection featured in the film to be included in Smithsonian African American History Museum (Visuals and movie clips available)

“Unprecedented in the history of mankind,” - Dr Molefi Asante, African American Studies, Temple University

Producers: Dr. Beverly Richards (Collection Curator), Bob Lott.

Birth of Black Film Trailer: https://youtu.be/H-Ui9nULfDw

Birth of Black Film provides a glimpse into the conditions that spawned the “race film” era and the evolution of the participants and players behind and in front of the cameras. Because race films were produced outside the Hollywood studio system, they have been largely forgotten by mainstream film historians. Dr. Beverly Richards points out, “As we witness the conclusion of the first Black Presidency, the upcoming opening of the African American History Museum, and the realization that African American children can truly be whatever they set their minds to, it is important to reflect on the history that helped pave the way to get them there. Birth of Black Film showcases our pathway.”

Teamwork Media Group International (TMGI) has produced an award winning film that captures the groundbreaking contributions made by early African American film producers, directors, writers, actors, technical pioneers, and theater owners from 1900-1959. The film category known as “Race Films” was born during this period in the United States and consisted of films produced for an all-black audience, featuring black casts. In their day, race films were very popular among African American theatergoers in black-owned theaters across the country. Philadelphia alone, where “A Cinema Apart” originated, was home to nine black owned movie theaters. Their influence continues to be felt in cinema and television marketed to African Americans and has expanded to the interests of majority audiences and international viewers, as well.

The Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture, scheduled to open September 24, 2016 in Washington D.C., will house 1,000 items from the A Cinema Apart Collection – featuring film lobby cards, personal items from iconic black actors, actresses, and performance artists from all genres. President Barak Obama will conduct the internationally anticipated ribbon cutting ceremony.

The magnitude and impact of contributions from a people merely 35 years out of 400 years of captivity is “unprecedented in the history of mankind” commented Dr Molefi Asante, Historian, Author, International Speaker, Professor and Chair of the African American Studies at Temple University. Charles Blockson, Founder and Curator of the Charles Blockson Library at Temple University, offered an expert historian’s perspective in the film about the social and psychological effects of negative stereotypes. Kenny Gamble, Music Industry Mogul and Cofounder of the legendary Gamble and Huff collaboration, said “Our people must control what is said and seen and the image that is created. The importance of this collection is demonstrated by the acquisition made by the Smithsonian Museum”. “Images can help create or perpetuate the cultural identity of a people”, Dr. Edward Robinson.

The film traces the role of racial inequities, biased social policies, and economic disparities that contributed to the migration of Blacks to northern cities. The improvement of income and lifestyle afforded by the job market in larger markets, led to an urgent need for housing and entertainment that further expanded the film and music opportunities for a nation of people hungry for opportunity and artistic expression.

Birth of Black Film, a docufilm masterpiece, is anticipated to be screened throughout the country in film festivals, universities, cultural events, scholarly programs, cinematic networks and viewed as the forefront of material worthy of academic study, historical examination, and entertainment acclaim.

About Film Producer Dr. Beverly Richards:
Beverly Richards is owner and curator of the "A Cinema Apart Collection". The Cinema Apart Collection includes African American film memorabilia from the 1920's through the 1950's. The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture has acquired nearly 1,000 items from this prestigious collection of over 2,100 artifacts. This new museum will open in 2016 in Washington, D.C. Beverly travels nationally and internationally to lecture, exhibit, and show "race" films to various institutions and organizations. She is also the author and executive producer of the documentary, “The Birth of Black Film: A Cinema Apart”. Please visit http://www.acinemaapart.com.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Karlyn Kieffer