A new archive of Black films made from 1915 to 1979 has been launched, featuring over 200 titles on an ever-expanding list of films available to stream on various sites.
Black Film Archive’s aim is to make Black cinema and Black film knowledge more accessible to a wider audience, originating as a Twitter thread attempting to list every Black film released between 1910 and 1959.
The archive’s founder, Maya Cade, says that Black Film Archive “celebrates the rich, abundant history of Black cinema. We are an evolving archive dedicated to making historically and culturally significant films about Black people accessible through a streaming guide with cultural context.
“The films collected on Black Film Archive have something significant to say about the Black experience; speak to Black audiences; and/or have a Black star, writer, producer, or director. This criterion for selection is as broad and inclusive as possible, allowing the site to cover the widest range of what a Black film can be.”
Cade has also added that an “exciting” expansion of the site is currently in development.
Films currently listed in the archive include John Korty’s The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974), Antonello Branca’s Seize the Time (1970), and Jack Kemp’s Miracle in Harlem (1948). The oldest film on the list is Two Knights of Vaudeville, a comedy short from 1915.
The archive includes links to where every film on the list is available to stream, and features brief descriptions of each film written by Cade. It is hoped that more examples of Black cinema will be added to the site in the future.
Reactions to the archive’s launch have been overwhelmingly positive, with one user already referring to it as an “essential resource.” Journalist Ernie Suggs, meanwhile, said that the archive is “an incredible project.”
Maya Cade is an award-winning journalist and is currently the audience editor at the Criterion Collection, based in Brooklyn.
Words by James Hanton
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