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Lucas Museum acquires African-American film history archive “Separate Cinema”

Day of film set Feb. 8 in Baldwin Hills

OW Staff Writer | 1/30/2020, midnight

The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, currently under construction in Exposition Park, recently announced its acquisition of the Separate Cinema Archive, which documents African-American cinema history from 1904 to 2019. Encompassing more than 37,000 rare items, the archive includes a major selection of original film posters, lobby cards, film stills, publicity material, scripts, an extensive reference library, and more. As one of the premier narrative art forms of the 20th and 21st centuries, film and the filmmaking process are central to the Lucas Museum mission. The Separate Cinema Archive allows the museum to present a more inclusive history about the making and selling of feature films.

For Black History Month, the Lucas Museum is partnering with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) to present a day of film on Feb. 8, featuring two Oscar-nominated movies—a family-friendly matinee screening of “The Wiz,” (1978) and an evening screening of “Do the Right Thing” (1989) followed by a conversation with author, scholar, and Turner Classic Movies host Jacqueline Stewart. Presented in celebration of LACMA’s landmark Betye Saar: Call and Response exhibition and the Lucas Museum’s Separate Cinema Archive, this Black History Month program will explore how filmmakers engage with issues of race within the narrative of the “American dream.”

“It is exciting to celebrate Black History Month by introducing the important Separate Cinema Archive and by screening these two iconic films even before our museum opens,” said Sandra Jackson-Dumont, director and CEO of the Lucas Museum. “Comprising original film posters, photography, and other archival materials—including for “The Wiz” and “Do the Right Thing”—the Separate Cinema Archive will not only provide film scholars with incredible opportunities for research, this treasure trove will also catalyze important conversations about the inspiring narratives of African-American perspectives represented through film.”

Following the “Do the Right Thing” screening, author and archivist Jacqueline Stewart, professor of cinema and media studies at the University of Chicago, will participate in a conversation with Ryan Linkof, curator of film at the Lucas Museum, about the portrayal of race within the history of cinema. Stewart made her own history recently when she was announced as the first African-American host at Turner Classic Movies, where she leads the Silent Sunday Nights program. 

The screenings will take place at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza’s Cinemark Theater, 4020 Marlton Ave., LA on Saturday, Feb. 8. The morning matinee screening of “The Wiz” will coincide with Melanin Market L.A., a regular pop-up market taking place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. outside the cinema that features black-owned businesses and vendors. Guests can also engage in free family art-making stations at the market provided by LACMA and the Lucas Museum.

About the Separate Cinema Archive

The Separate Cinema Archive chronicles the rich history of the African-American film industry and its pivotal role in the pursuit of racial equality in Hollywood that continues today and beyond. Over the course of four decades, the archive’s founder John Duke Kisch meticulously built and preserved this collection, which features work by nearly every major African-American film personality, from the origins of the medium to the present day, including Oscar Micheaux, Josephine Baker, Paul Robeson, Dorothy Dandridge, Sidney Poitier, and musical legends such as Duke Ellington and Diana Ross. The archive is an indispensable resource for the study and contextualization of African-American artistic and cultural history.

Learn more and reserve tickets to “The Wiz” (Feb. 8, 10:30 a.m.) and “Do the Right Thing” (Feb. 8, 6:30 p.m.) at www.eventbrite.com