"The present fate and possible future of the southern share-cropping farmer have been pictured in dramatic and authentic detail by Alan S. Hacker, ACL, in a five reel, 16mm. film recently completed under the sponsorship of the Sharecropper Film Committee, New York City. Made to aid the Southern Tenant Farmers' Union, the production illustrates the agricultural despotism and destitution which have resulted in the formation of that group bargaining organization. Farms and families of Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi appear in this documentary record, which kept Mr. Hacker three months in the field. Lee R. Hays. an Arkansan, served him as liaison officer with the union and its supporters, while Gardner Jackson, of the film committee, contributed to the production's planning. Narrative comment and a musical background are scheduled additions to the pictured story, in preparation for screenings before school and civic groups interested in the success of the Southern Tenant Farmers' Union." - "Practical Films," Movie Makers, March 1937, 128.
"Educational film surveying the instruction of the fine and performing arts at leading African American institutions, including Calhoun, Dillard, Fisk, Hampton, and Howard. The film argues that exposure to theater, music, dance, and the fine arts produces well-rounded students and enriches their lives." National Film Preservation Foundation.
"Produced several years before the historic Stonewall uprising for LGBT rights in 1969, director Nikolai Ursin's gently-activist short Behind Every Good Man (c. 1967) provides an illuminating glimpse into the life of an African-American trans woman. In strong contrast to the stereotypically negative and hostile depictions of transgender persons as seen through the lens of Hollywood at the time, the subject of Ursin's independent film is rendered as stable, hopeful and well-adjusted. The resulting intimate portrait serves as a rare cultural artifact of transgender life and African-American life in the U.S. at the mid-century," UCLA Film & Television Archive.
"Portrait of Calhoun School, founded in 1892, and its vocational work among rural African Americans of Lowndes County, Alabama. The film shows the living conditions of the poor and illustrates how the school makes a difference in health education, agriculture, and road construction." The Field Guide to Sponsored Films.
"Education for Life, an attractively filmed record of the daily work of the Hampton Institute, famous school for Negro youth, was produced by the Harmon Foundation and filmed by Mr. and Mrs. Ray Garner. The well planned sequences of this picture tell, in detail, of the high lights of the school's activities. The Garners were faced with the problem of recording, in color, a wide variety of skin tones and with the problem of lighting large areas. These problems were solved with more than the usual skill, and they have turned out an almost perfect filming job. They exercised an excellent choice of camera angles, and the whole film is a thoroughly polished production. The amount of detail in a picture of this type is considerable, but the subject matter is well balanced. The introductory material, a series of ''zoom" shots of maps, is especially well done." Movie Makers, Dec. 1941, 568.
"A South Shore High School student film that is an allegory on the wastefulness of war and the duplicity of those who wage it. Filmmaker Wayne Williams, who was 17 at the time, cuts back and forth between a chess game and a guerrilla theater war game to underscore the sense of importance of the fighters and the cynicism of those who control their lives - and deaths." Chicago Film Archives
Hell Bound Train "depicts the devil as the train's engineer both driving his locomotive toward hell and tempting the sinner-passengers that occupy various cars on the train. The film is divided into episodes each one representing a different kind of sin or sinner and set in a corresponding car of the train" Tepperman, 233-234.
"Mr. Motorboat's Last Stand, written and produced by John A. Flory, who was assisted in photography by Theodore Huff, ACL, carries the subtitle, A Comedy of the Depression. It has, however, nothing in common with the typical motion picture comedy but is, instead, one of the very few films made each year that represent an intelligent attempt at experimentation with the motion picture medium. It is a story of Mr. Motorboat, an unemployed negro, who lives as elegantly as circumstances will permit in an automobile dump and who sells carefully washed and polished apples on a street corner. The picture turns into fantasy as Mr. Motorboat appears to ride to work in the morning in one of the cars of the dump that stands motionless without its wheels. Then the fantasy becomes more complete when he makes a bit of money and uses it as bait with which to fish in Wall Street. This he does literally and actually and with marvelous results until the crash of 1929. Simultaneously with the explosion of the prosperity bubble, Mr. Motorboat's competitor smashes his apple stand and the picture ends in a magnificent chase sequence, Mr. Motorboat after the competitor. This picture is photographed superbly well, and the editing is as smooth as that of the professional studio product. It is filled with remarkable directorial touches and cinematic symbolism and, although it suffers to some extent from the haphazard admixture of fantasy and realism, it is decidedly the best experimental film of the year." Movie Makers, Dec. 1933, 522.
"Those who have not attended a New Orleans funeral may look forward to an experience. These are colored funerals for lodge members and important persons. Lodge brothers and sisters dress in their fraternal regalia. Men in uniform, braid, sashes, aprons, plumed hats, swords, long coats. Women in white uniforms or long skirts and complimentary headgear. The choice of dress befits the occasion. The Eureka Brass band Furnishes the music-fast marches to the funeral home, dirges to the cemetery, hymns at the graveside. Leaving the grave, jazz music is played as it is propitious to celebrate, a good time for dancing. Many impromptu dances set up along the return route. to hear the band music is enough to get one to attend a New Orleans funeral. The beat is almost hypnotic" PSA Journal, Oct. 1962, 36.
"Nightsong is a dramatic story of a colored night club singer, Willie Wright, trying to make the big time and, most of all "to get people to like me." One evening while singing, his eyes rest on the face of a beautiful young white girl and his infatuation with her becomes unmistakable as the story unfolds. The film is 99% visual with a sound track that places great emphasis on the various moods of the young singer" PSA Journal, Sept. 1965, 50.
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