LIAS Film Series: "Within Our Gates"

Wednesday, 6 September, 7:30 pm

As a response to the openly racist epic film "Birth of a Nation", which was accompanied by protests, Oscar Micheaux's "Within Our Gates" is still considered a cinematic indictment of discrimination against African Americans in the USA.

The silent film drama by director Oscar Micheaux, which deals with the living conditions of African Americans at the beginning of the 20th century, is considered the oldest surviving film by an African American director.

America, 1919. Abandoned by her fiancé, Sylvia returns to her home in the southern USA. She becomes involved with a school for needy African-American children that is threatened with closure. When her wallet is stolen, she meets Dr Vivian, who falls in love with her. By chance, she meets the rich American Elena Warwick, who gives Sylvia the money she needs to go to school. Meanwhile, Dr Vivian visits Sylvia's cousin Alma in the north and learns of the family's difficult fate, which involves a murder and lynching...
Micheaux's sometimes violent drama reveals the complexities and everyday discrimination in the lives of African-Americans; it is an early, haunting document of systematic racism in America. Micheaux's work was long considered lost. Censored and abridged several times, the film has now become an important document of racism after the First World War. The Library of Congress put it on its list of US films in need of special protection. It had commissioned a restoration in 1993 after a copy entitled "La Negra" turned up in Madrid.

USA, 1920 - Director: Oscar Micheaux
79 min. - Silent film (with English intertitles).

Free admission - Introduction in English: Dr. Verena Adamik (LIAS Fellow).