Who are the current Black Academy members?

June 2018, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences extended 928 invitations to artists and executives who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures. There appear to be eighty-nine Black members–seventeen of whom identify as African, Afro-Caribbean, or Afro-European. The entire list is below with the Black members’ names in bold. (Ten individuals, noted by an asterisk, were invited to join the Academy by multiple branches.) We look forward to seeing more diversity when the list of 2019 invitees is released in the coming weeks.


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Honoring the Work of John Singleton

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(January 6, 1968 – April 29, 2019)

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See BORDERLINE, Starring Paul Robeson (1930) with a new score by composer Renée Baker. 

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The Black Film Center/Archive is excited to welcome back to Indiana University Renée Baker, who is scheduled to be present for a post-screening Q&A of the 1930 film Borderline on Wednesday April 24th at 7:00 pm. (Click HERE for tickets.) Baker, who recently visited Indiana University in 2017 to premier her score for a different film, The Scar of Shame (1927), and conduct an ensemble of musicians from the Jacobs School of Music, will return to pursue research at the BFC/A related to the life and work of musician and composer Phil Moore.

Donated to IU’s Black Film Center/Archive in 2014, the Phil Moore collection includes 70 boxes of handwritten arrangements and compositions he had created for various Hollywood films, albums, radio and TV programs and live musical acts over the years. Just last month BFC/A archivist Ronda Sewald discussed the collection in a lecture about recently digitized audio materials as part of a campus wide Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative, which included several recordings of Moore’s. Baker has said of Moore that his “brilliant identity was usurped by his inability to claim ownership of so much of his work. His coaching of leading actresses and voices of the day is still a little known fact. I’m working on a project to help this visibility.” 


Exhibit curated by BFC/A Archivist, Ronda Sewald on actor, activist, and musician, Paul Robeson. It’s just outside the Moving Image Archive on the ground floor of Wells Library.

Next Wednesday’s screening (Free Tickets HERE) features a predecessor and overlapping contemporary of Moore’s, Paul Robeson, as one of the stars of Borderline. Robeson was a singer, actor, and activist who was a star of both stage and screen. He was well known for taking up anti-imperialist causes and was a dedicated advocate of civil rights. Many of these activities led to his being blacklisted in Hollywood during the McCarthy era.

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But as film historian Charles Musser writes, Robeson also achieved some of the greatest levels of artistic breadth and depth by “playing the high-low interface with diabolical cleverness; he moved among the bohemian little theater movement of Greenwich Village, the commercial world of Broadway, the black theater of Harlem, and the leftist theater of revolutionary Russia.” What is fascinating to Musser and others is Robeson’s ability to “use[…] film both artistically and as a cultural intervention. Despite his achievements, Robeson would later go on to denounce his film career, stating:

“I grew more and more dissatisfied with the stories I played in. Certain elements in a story would attract me and I would agree to play in it. But by the time the producers and distributors had got through with it, the story was usually very different, and so were my feelings about it.”

Whether this is the case for Borderline, is one reason to make sure and see it next Wednesday (Click here for tickets). Certainly the film is complex in its depiction of race and sexuality. And the question of how effective this complexity is at communicating the kind of stories Robeson thought were most honest or important makes Borderline that much more interesting.

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In the film Adah, played by Robeson’s wife Eslanda has an affair with a Thorne, a white man. The townspeople react and the brunt of their racism is put on display. Adah attempts a reconciliation with her husband, Pete (played by her real life husband, Robeson), but ends up fleeing town. Meanwhile, Thorne’s wife Astrid, played by the poet Helga Doom, seeks revenge and is met with violence. Her husband is suspected, but acquitted from criminal wrongdoing, while Pete must also leave town in light of these events.

Borderline also features an incredible technical virtuosity in silent-era filmmaking, with rapid and disorienting cuts, meant to elicit shock and intensity. Frames depicting people are juxtaposed with objects to connote uncertain meaning. And markers of non-normative gender and sexuality are subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) signaled with daring resolve. The rich visual momentum of the film highlights the distortions of racism in a world where the scandal of whiteness typically just blends into the background.

BORDERLINE, Starring Paul Robeson (1930) with a new score by composer Renée Baker. 
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
7:00pm – 9:00pm
Wells Screening Room (ground floor, within Media Services)
Free Tickets with RSVP. Click this link: https://iub.libcal.com/event/5137951


Reference: Musser, Charles. “Paul Robeson and the End of His ‘Movie’ Career.” in Contemporary Black American Cinema: Race, Gender and Sexuality at the Movies. Ed. Mia Mask, Routledge UP, 2012. pp. 14-39.

April’s Awesomeness at the BFC/A!


Nina Lorez Collins, daughter of the late Kathleen Collins, whose masterwork Losing Ground was the great rediscovered film of 2015, will read selections from a new book of her mother’s writing, Notes from a Black Woman’s DiaryThe conversation with Collins, BFC/A Director Terri Francis and Professor of English Vivian Halloran precedes a screening of Losing Ground (1982), which had its U.S. theatrical premier at IU Cinema. Copies of Notes from a Black Woman’s Diary will be available for purchase, as well as Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?, Collins’ 2016 collection of her mother’s stories.

6:00 pm Conversation with Nina Lorez Collins about Notes from a Black Woman’s Diary

7:00 pm Screening of Kathleen Collins’ Losing Ground (1982)

Presented by the Black Film Center/Archive and hosted by the Moving Image Archive Screening Room. Additional support from The Ruth Lilly Professorship of the English Department.

*This event is free, but ticketed, and open to the public.

RSVP Here: https://iub.libcal.com/event/5137884

Burial Bloomington

Through a magical realist lens, THE BURIAL OF KOJO follows the story of Esi, as she recounts her childhood and the tumultuous relationship between her father, Kojo and her uncle, Kwabena. Directed by TED fellow, music composer and musician Samuel “Blitz” Bazawule, the film chronicles the tale of two brothers through the gifted eyes of a young girl who transports the audience to the beautiful lands of Ghana and other worlds that exist between life and death.

Born from a newspaper article and a Kickstarter campaign, Bazawule skillfully captures the beauty of a family, even when the circumstances aren’t beautiful. THE BURIAL OF KOJO is an essential human story of courage and survival. THE BURIAL OF KOJO is a 2019 Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) Official Selection and 2018 Urbanworld Film Festival Best Narrative Feature Winner. (Dir. Sam Blitz Bazawule, 2018, 80 mins, HD Presentation)

This visually striking debut film has been embraced by The New Yorker, The LA Times and The New York Times. See it here with us!

Sponsored by the Black Film Center/Archive and the African Studies Program; hosted by IU Libraries Moving Image Archive/Screening Room.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019
7:00pm – 9:00pm
Wells Screening Room (ground floor, within Media Services)
1320 E. 10th Street, Bloomington

*This event is free, but ticketed, and open to the public.

RSVP Here: https://iub.libcal.com/event/5276950


Composer Renée Baker returns to IU for a screening of BORDERLINE (1930) with her original score!

Renee Baker, composer.

Wed, April 24th, screening takes place in the IU Libraries Screening Room, Wells 048 at 7:00PM. Baker will be present for post film discussion.

Check out this awesome interview HERE that Jane Cummings recorded with Baker during her visit to Bloomington last year!

From WFIU:

Renee Baker is a violinist and violist, a leader of several musical ensembles, and a composer of more than 200 compositions ranging from string quartets to much larger ensembles.

She draws heavily on her classical training, creating music that does not fit easily into any one genre. Her work is part classical, part jazz, cross-cultural, and often highly improvisational. She has been referred to as a “disruptive composer.”

Baker is the concertmaster of the Chicago Sinfonietta, of which she has been a member since it was founded in 1987. With the Sinfonietta, she has performed around the country and around the world.

She is also the founding music director and conductor of the internationally-acclaimed Chicago Modern Orchestra Project, The Mantra Blue Free Orchestra, and around 20 other cutting-edge new music ensembles.

Baker is currently writing film scores, such as the one she composed for Oscar Michaeux’s 1925 silent film Body and Soul. She came to Bloomington to collaborate with students from the Jacobs School of Music for the premiere a new score for the 1927 film The Scar of Shame.

Wed, April 24th


Wells 048, IU Libraries Screening Room.

Additions to IU Image Collections Online from the Gugler and Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame Collections

In December 2017, IUB Libraries and the BFC/A launched the Josef Gugler African and Middle Eastern Film Collection through Indiana University’s Image Collections Online (ICO) (see previous story). Since then, our staff has scanned an additional 1,315 posters, photographs, lobby cards, and handbills from the collection and added them to the site for a total of 2100 digitized and searchable items.


At the end of October 2018, IUB Libraries and the BFC/A launched the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame Photograph Collection. This collection includes photographs documenting and promoting the activities of the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame (BFHFI) as well as images used in the BFHFI’s presentations and publications. The collection also contains a sizeable number of film and production stills that were included with entries submitted to the BFHFI’s annual Independent Black Film and Video Competition. At this time, nearly 1,286 access images are discoverable through Image Collections Online as low-resolution jpeg files.




BFC/A donor Mary Perry Smith, co-founded the BFHFI in 1974 as part of a series dedicated to Black pioneers. The first BFHFI Oscar Micheaux Awards Ceremony was a collaboration among the Oakland Museum of California’s Culture & Ethnic Affairs Guild, Afro-American Studies at the University of California—Berkley, and KGO-TV. The celebration of pioneering films stars proved immensely popular and became an annual collaboration between the guild and the University of California—Berkley. Events included a month-long film and lecture series followed by an annual Black History Month Celebration weekend that included the award ceremony (1974—1993), a film competition, film symposium, and a screening and lecture series. By 1978, the BFHFI’s activities outgrew the resources and energy of the staff at the museum and so it became incorporated as a separate, non-profit organization in 1978.


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In addition to the celebration events in January and February, the BFHFI sponsored and hosted master classes, workshops, film screenings, and other educational events throughout the year. Inductees and awardees of the BFHFI included celebrities and notable filmmakers such as Paul Robeson, Stepin Fetchit (Lincoln Perry), Gordon Parks, Sammy Davis Jr., Diahann Carroll, Dizzy Gillespie, Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Julie Dash, Spike Lee, Brock Peters, Maya Angelou, Tempestt Bledsoe, Jim Brown, Madame Sul-Te-Wan, Richard Pryor, and many others. 1990 marked the start of Black Filmworks (last held 2003), a film festival designed to showcase submissions to the annual film competition.


Additional information about the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame and a full inventory of the papers, audiovisual recordings, promotional materials, and film memorabilia donated by former BFHFI board members Mary Perry Smith and Belva Davis are available through the collection finding aids.


Scanning work is well underway for the BFC/A’s general collection, which consists of a mix of promotional photos, lobby cards, posters, and photographs documenting the BFC/A’s history including past staff members, visitors, and events.


Scanning of the material in these collections was performed by BFC/A undergraduate assistant Nyla Lee and former graduate assistant Mikala Narlock. Narlock also assisted the BFC/A archivist with the ingestion and description of images in ICO. Funding in support of this work was given by the IU Office of the Bicentennial Committee.


Access the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame Photograph Collection here.

For more information, visit the Black Film Center/Archive.


See Burial of Kojo April 10, 7PM Wells 048

Burial Bloomington

This ARRAY screening will take place in the IU Libraries Screening Room, Wells 048 at 7PM. Director, Samuel “Blitz” Bazawule is scheduled to be present for a post screening discussion. You don’t want to miss this exciting and exclusive event!

FREE TIX HERE: https://libraries.indiana.edu/burial-kojo

The Burial of Kojo is an official selection of the 2019 Pan African Film Festival and the 2018 Urbanworld Film Festival Best Narrative Feature Winner. Marking his feature debut, Bazawule tells the story of two brothers through the eyes of a gifted girl who travels beautiful lands that exist between life and death. The trailer shows Bazawule’s stunning vision of the familial narrative through the lens of Afrosurrealism. See the Africa is a Country review here.


Indiewire’s Tambay Obenson helpfully contextualizes Ghana’s film infrastructure in terms of the early years of independence, writing:

As is the case for most countries on the African continent, Ghanaian film history isn’t anywhere near as rich as the West. After it achieved independence from the British in 1957, Ghana boasted the most impressive infrastructure for film production in Africa, but eventually squandered that potential. After Kwame Nkrumah, the country’s first democratically-elected post-independence president, was overthrown in a violent coup d’état in 1966, the new military regime failed to continue his nationalistic policies towards cinema, and instead reverted to pre-independence practices by depending on Europeans (over local filmmakers) to tell Ghanaian stories.

Read more here.

Join us to see this landmark film in new Ghanaian cinema. The filmmaker Blitz Bazawule is scheduled to be present.


Samuel “Blitz” Bazawule is perhaps better known by his stage name Blitz the Ambassador. Born in Accra, Ghana, Blitz has built a multidisciplinary career as a musician, visual artist, and filmmaker. His 2016 album Diasporadical was accompanied by a short film of the same name.

In the Featurette below, Blitz discusses his approach to the music in The Burial of Kojo.


The Burial of Kojo

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

7 PM – 9:30 PM

Wells 048

1320 E. 10th St. in Bloomington

FREE TIX HERE: https://libraries.indiana.edu/burial-kojo


Conversation with Nina Lorez Collins; April 3, 6PM, Wells 048

Nina Collins april 3Nina Lorez Collins, daughter of the late Kathleen Collins, whose masterwork LOSING GROUND (1982) was the great rediscovered film of 2015, will read selections from a new book of her mother’s writing entitled NOTES FROM A BLACK WOMAN’S DIARY (2019). The reading will take place April 3, 6PM, at the IU Libraries Screening Room, Wells 048, and be followed by a screening of the film.

A stunning collection of fiction, diary entries, screenplays, and scripts by the brilliant African-American artist and filmmaker. Relatively unknown during her life, the artist, filmmaker, and writer Kathleen Collins emerged on the literary scene in 2016 with the posthumous publication of the short story collection Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? Said Zadie Smith, “To be this good and yet to be ignored is shameful, but her rediscovery is a great piece of luck for us.” That rediscovery continues in the book, which spans genres to reveal the breadth and depth of the late author’s talent. The compilation is anchored by more of Collins’s short stories, which, striking and powerful in their brevity, reveal the ways in which relationships are both formed and come undone. It is in Collins’s raw and prescient diaries that her nascent ideas about race, gender, marriage, and motherhood first play out on the page.

LOSING GROUND (1982), dir. Kathleen Collins, tells the story of an accomplished and beloved philosophy professor, Sara Rogers (Seret Scott), who is married to a vivacious artist, Victor (Bill Gunn). Their marriage becomes strained by Victor’s obsession with painting a Puerto Rican woman, Celia, who lives in the town where Sara and Victor are living for the summer. Meanwhile, Sara agrees to appear in a film being made by one her students in which she plays opposite to Duke (Duane Jones). Her’s and Duke’s performance as lovers for the student film moves ambiguously, back and forth, across the threshold between real life and fiction. The film is a subtle and sincere look at desire and the exasperating tendencies of love, particularly amidst the complexities of gender, race and ethnicity, power, and art.

*This event is free, but ticketed, and open to the public.
 Click here for tickets.

*The Screening Room temperature tends to run cool, so please remember to bring a jacket or sweater.

*No food or drink is permitted in the Screening Room.


Wednesday, April 3, 2019
6:00pm – 9:00pm
Wells Screening Room (ground floor, within Media Services)