An article in the HuffingtonPost brought this film archive to my attention. As a student of film (primarily genre of course) I am always interested in discovering lost treasures, long lost films “recovered”, everything from “The Airship Destroyer 1909” to “which is your favorite cut of the original Blade Runner?).
So I was thrilled to hear about an archive of Black films, since we know that many of them were dismissed, ignored, down-played or otherwise prevented from reaching the non-Black population at large.
I can’t say that I know all that much about the history of Black Film. I know that one of my favorite post-apocalyptic movies stars Harry Belafonte and that it focuses greatly on the then contemporary state of race relations (the opening is phenomenal and focuses on a worker (Belafonte) trapped underground by a cave-in that inadvertently shields him from a nuclear attack) and I’m aware of the concept of Blaxploitation films (Blacula) and even a small handful of other titles (I’ve never shied away from a film because of the “race” of the actors) – Sounder, The Color Purple (a favorite), They Call Me Mr. Tibbs, Lillies of the Field, The Defiant Ones.
But I was thrilled to discover oodles of films I’ve never even heard of before, and I’ll be catching up.
For those who are interested, I’ve taken a tour and have identified all of the films I consider to be “genre” or genre-adjacent, with the exclusion of the Westerns, as that’s certainly genre, but generally of a different stripe. Below, you’ll find the titles with links to their entries at the Black Film Archive.
One film I didn’t find, a film that Amazing Stories promoted and reviewed several years ago was Destination: Planet Negro a send up of 50s era SF films, with some commentary on racism. I’m sure it will be included eventually, but the BFA has rules and Planet Negro doesn’t yet qualify.
Here then are the BFA’s genre offerings*:
*I only did a quick review and may very well have missed one or two genre offerings that didn’t announce themselves via title. I felt it more important to get a mention of this project out than to exhaustively examine each and every film (which would take a while because they’ve got a large inventory).