Screening /
Oscar Micheaux’s “The Exile”

Date: Tuesday, 4 October 2011, 7–9 pm
Location: Cabinet, 300 Nevins Street, Brooklyn (map and directions here)
FREE. No RSVP necessary
Organized by Light Industry

Listen to an audio recording of this program, or download here.
00:00 / 00:00

The Exile
Oscar Micheaux, 16mm, 1931, 93 mins
Introduced by Martine Syms

In his seminal essay “Bad Movies,” J. Hoberman describes Oscar Micheaux as the “Black Pioneer of American film—not just because he was a black man, or because in his youth he pioneered the West, or because he was the greatest figure in ‘race’ movies and an unjustly ignored force in early American cinema. Micheaux is America’s Black Pioneer in the way that André Breton was Surrealism’s Black Pope. His movies throw our history and movies into an alien and startling disarray.” For tonight’s event, artist Martine Syms, one of the proprietors of Golden Age in Chicago, will present The Exile, Micheaux’s first sound picture, a sensationalist melodrama of illicit desire that shifts from a Windy City whorehouse to the South Dakota homestead and back again. In addition to constituting a vital chapter in the history of independent film distribution and black entrepreneurship, Micheaux’s movies have also long been admired by some of cinema’s most adventurous practitioners for their invigorating, sui generis narrative logic—one of the rare prints of The Exile is being provided courtesy of Ken Jacobs. As Hoberman would put it, “Micheaux constructed an anti-Hollywood out of rags and bones on some barely-imaginable psychic tundra.”

Syms’s book Implications and Distinctions: Format, Content, and Context in Contemporary Race Film, which traces the “color line” through the distribution and exhibition of cinema, was recently published by Future Plan and Program.

This event has been made possible by a generous grant from the New York State Council on the Arts. Beer for this event has been lovingly provided by Brooklyn Brewery.