Also in this program
Naomi, a light-skinned Black child, is abandoned by her mother and raised by the virtuous Mrs. Saunders, played by Alice B. Russell, director Oscar Micheaux's wife and collaborator. When the girl's fixation with whiteness turns her against her own race, she is sent to a convent. Hopelessly in love with her adoptive brother Jimmie, Naomi consents to marry his friend. But she is repulsed by his darker skin and unrefined ways. The narrative reaches a peak as Naomi leaves her own newborn and makes a tragic attempt to pass in white society.
Digital presentation courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive
Monster, 1988, gedruckt 2019. Udo und Anette Brandhorst Sammlung © Courtesy the Artist and Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York/Rome
Meet the director
Oscar Micheaux was born in Metropolis in 1884. As one of eleven siblings, he made money as a shoeshiner, ticket inspector and farmer. Besides that, he wrote short stories, which he published in his own publishing house and sold from door-to-door. After the birth of cinema around the turn of the century, the popularity of the cinematic medium rose quickly. Micheau saw his chance in film, to make his own stories accessible to a wider audience. That’s why he founded his own production company and shot the first film ever by an African-American, called THE HOMESTEADER, in 1919. Throughout his career as a director, screenwriter and producer, he was responsible for tons of movies, such as WITHIN OUR GATES (1920), THE EXILE (1931) and SWING! (1938). He was able to win great actors like Lorenzo Tucker and Ben Freeman for his projects. Today, he is considered to have been one of the most productive independent African-American directors in film history. His works continued to tackle racism, death and the relationships between White and African-American people. Besides that, Micheaux wrote several novels. He died in 1951.