Within Our Gates
Oscar Micheaux, U.S., 1920, 79 min.
“Within Our Gates,” writer-director Oscar Micheaux’s impassioned
response to D.W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation,” shines a revealing
light on the racism of U.S. society, provocatively including scenes of
lynching and attempted rape. Micheaux was a pioneering African-American
filmmaker and novelist whose career stretched from the silent era
through the 1940s. “Within Our Gates,” the oldest surviving “race” film,
was thought lost until a single print was discovered in Spain in 1990
and restored by the Library of Congress in 1992. This screening featured
an original score by Cairo, Ill.’s Stace England, who recently released
“The Amazing Oscar Micheaux,” a CD of songs inspired by the filmmaker’s
life and work.
"In inviting Stace England and the Salt
Kings to compose an original score for a screening of “Within Our Gates”
at the 2009 St. Louis International Film Festival, I hoped they’d
provide a fresh perspective on a seemingly distant era, and I’m
delighted at how fully that goal was met. The band’s electrified Americana proved startlingly
contemporary yet utterly appropriate, with the score’s blues and country
roots nurtured by the same fertile (and often blood-soaked) soil that
yielded Oscar Micheaux’s film."
Cliff Froehlich, Executive