JULY 22, 2014
The Czar of Black Hollywood”
—Rare Feature Doc
on the Cinema Pioneer
BY TAMBAY A. OBENSON
It confounds me that an official feature film on the life and work of Oscar Micheaux (whether a comprehensive documentary made for the big screen, or a scripted biopic with proper financial backing) has never been made – especially in a time when there seems to be so much interest in films based on the lives of real life public figures. Granted he’s been gone for over 50 years now, but that’s even more of a reason to bring his life story to the screen, if only so that there’s a necessary broader awareness of him – a pioneer who seems, for all intents and purposes, except in certain cinephile circles, lost in the annals of cinema history.
I’m curious to know if, those of you currently in film school, or who recently graduated, have been, or were previously exposed to Micheaux and his work in any of your various classes. When I was in film school, I learned nothing of the man, so I’m really interested in knowing if he’s in any current curriculums.
There was Pearl Bowser’s 1994 documentary “Midnight Ramble: Oscar Micheaux & the Story of Race Movies,” but that wasn’t specifically about Micheaux; rather a telling of the history of black cinema, specifically during the first few decades of the industry’s existence, when so-called “Race movies” were made.
Looking ahead, currently in development are: writer/director JD Walker’s Oscar Micheaux feature film (a scripted project we first alerted to a year ago, and have been updating you on since then), titled “Oscar Micheaux: Negro Pioneer,” and a feature documentary called “Oscar’s Comeback,” directed by Lisa Collins, which takes a look at a festival celebrating a Micheaux – a festival in an all-white town (Gregory, South Dakota
While we wait for those 2 films to be completed, check out the 60-minute web-released 2014 documentary on Micheaux below, titled “Oscar Micheaux: The Czar of Black Hollywood,” which chronicles the early life and career of Micheaux (1884-1951), using archival film, images and music to create a portrait of Micheaux’s early life.
The film comes from director Bayer Mack, and Block Starz Television (I assume a riff on Black Starz?).
Mack said he was inspired to make the film because, in part, he was shocked that, in spite of Micheaux’s historical significance, there was “virtually nothing out there about [his] life.”
The film is executive produced by Frances Presley Rice and Hal Croasmun, and narrated by William Bell.
By the way, JD Walker’s project (titled “Oscar Micheaux: Negro Pioneer”) can be tracked at its website (http://www.oscarmicheauxmovie.com) and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/OscarMicheauxMovie).
And you can follow Lisa Collins’ “Oscar’s Comeback” here: http://www.oscarscomeback.com/.
Watch Bayer Mack’s “Oscar Micheaux: The Czar of Black Hollywood” below, split into 4 parts: