Instructions How to Write

Film Within Our Gates History

Micheaux was an African-American filmmaker who made many silent films, most of them now lost. Micheaux contended with multiple restrictions, budgetary and social: so-called “race” films faced limited distribution, and African-American audiences, depending on where they lived, often had difficulty enjoying cinema going with the same liberties that white viewers did
Using Within Our Gates as your primary evidence of Micheaux’s efforts to reach Black audiences of the day as both an educator and an entertainer, and as a representative example of race filmmaking, please provide an account of the film’s historical significance—why is this film important to the study of film history, especially its aesthetic and sociocultural dimensions? This might involve exploring any or all of the following:
-how the film contends with dimensions of Black experience in the early years of the twentieth century, in a sometimes controversial fashion, and in ways that not all African-American critics of the time applauded, to such a degree that it faced censorship struggles;
-how the film engages distinct facets of silent film form (narrative and/or style) discussed in lecture and in readings to tell a story centred on Black protagonists;
how the film might have been viewed and understood by Black audiences at the time of it release, and the type of exhibition circumstances and reception contexts it would have encountered;
-how the film’s survival points to the disregard that artifacts of Black popular culture, particularly film, endured following their release, and how archival and scholarly efforts can aid in the retrieval and restoration of such works.

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