Roanoke-linked filmmaker featured in new film museum
ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) – Walk down Henry Street in Roanoke and you’ll see the name Oscar Micheaux.
Not on the marquee of what was once the Strand Theater, but on the Virginia Historical Marker that stands just outside the building that once served as headquarters.
100 years ago, Micheaux moved his office to Roanoke. Between 1922 and 1925, he produced up to six feature films there.
Oscar Micheaux is also front and center in Los Angeles at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. He is among the first to feature in the museum’s exhibit, “Significant Movies and Moviemakers.”
Jacqueline Stewart is a film scholar, professor at the University of Chicago, and artistic and programming director of the Academy Museum.
“So people see Citizen Kane’s Rosebud. They find out about Bruce Lee’s work. And Oscar Micheaux is right there,” Stewart told WDBJ7 in an interview. part of the opening exhibitions in this way.”
She said Micheaux was a prolific and pivotal filmmaker, who paved the way for many who followed.
“For black audiences in the first half of the 20th century, Oscar Micheaux was huge,” Stewart said. “He was doing all these Black-cast movies. He funded them. He wrote them down. He was promoting it. It’s an incredible model. »
Micheaux has made more than 40 silent and sound films. Only about half of them survive.
But a career that spanned 30 years, and included a productive stint in Roanoke, is receiving new attention on the national stage.
“We want to demonstrate that the history of cinema has many different threads…filmmakers from all walks of life…and that the films have been entertaining and they have been educational and they have even galvanized social change “Stewart said. “And that’s definitely true for the work of Oscar Micheaux.”
To learn more about the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, click on the following link.
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