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Indiana University Bloomington

Black Film Center/Archive College of Arts and Sciences
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Past Events

The Exhibit: "Imaging Blackness, 1915-2002 Film Posters from the Black Film Center/Archive Collections"

Imaging BlacknessThe Black Film Center/Archive will be showcasing its film poster collection at the IU Art Museum October 11 through December 21, 2003. From Sleepy Sam the Sleuth (1915) to Spike Lee's Jim Brown: All-American (2002), over fifty posters from different eras and genres will be featured.

Movie posters are documents of history and popular culture. They also combine artistry and enterprise to render a uniquely engaging art form. The film posters in the BFC/A collection date from the early days of cinema to the present, and comprise one of the largest collections of black-theme posters in a single repository in known existence. The BFC/A is delighted to present, for the first time, in collaboration with the IU Art Museum, a selection of fifty-five posters and other materials in this special exhibit. They showcase seven genres of black films--Western, Musical, Documentary, Action/Crime, Drama, Mystery/Thriller, and Comedy--to illustrate the historically torturous, yet artistic and humanistic struggle of people of African ancestry for control of their image. This exhibit also engages America's entanglement with race--on celluloid and in society.

IU Art Museum Gallery Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-5pm; Sunday, Noon-5pm.

The Black Presence in Hollywood Films "...with the release of "The Birth of a Nation" the propagation of subhuman images of Negroes became financially and dramatically profitable. The Negro as scapegoat could be sold as entertainment. If the film became the main manipulator of the American dream, for Negroes that dream contained a strong dose of such stuff as nightmares are made of."

Ralph Ellison, The Shadow and Act, 1964

We have come a long way since the release of J.W. Griffith's masterfully racist "The Birth of a Nation," (1915) caused rioting in the streets of America. Although racial parity has yet to be realized and stereotypes still exist, the black image in film is today not what it once was. The presence of Black filmmakers, producers, writers, cinematographers, actors, and technicians makes viewing and studying films about black experiences more interesting and entertaining for all audiences, and a beacon for scholarly engagement and study.