Oscar Micheaux, the first African-American to produce a feature-length film (The Homesteader (1919) in 1920) and a sound feature-length film (The Exile (1931) in 1931), is not a major figure in American film just for these milestones, but because his oeuvre is a window onto the American psyche as regards race and its deleterious effects on individuals and society. He also is a pioneer of independent cinema. Though the end products of his labors often were technically crude due to budgetary constraints, Micheaux the filmmaker is a symbol of the artist triumphing over long odds to bring his vision to the public at large while serving in the socially important role of critical spirit.
“One of the greatest tasks of my life has been to teach that the colored man can be anything,” Micheaux said. He used the new medium of the motion picture to communicate his ideas in order to rebut racism and to raise the consciousness of African-Americans in an age of segregation and overt, legal… read more
Oscar Micheaux's "Within Our Gates" might introduce too many characters in its short running time, but this masterful work addresses character psychology and larger social issues in such a provocative way. Film's use of editing to visualize interiority is inspired, offering rich insights into complex characters. Micheaux isn't content to focus on racism on an individual level, tackling important systemic problems.