Phyllis R. Klotman, founder of the Black Film Center/ Archive and professor emerita in the department of African American and African Diaspora Studies, died on March 30th at her home in Manhattan.
“She was one of the first to preserve black independent films, and in doing that, she encouraged us,” Charles Burnett remarked in his interview with the New York Times following Klotman’s passing. The Times’ obituary recounts many of Klotman’s contributions to the study and preservation of black cinema during her tenure at Indiana University, including: the establishment of the BFC/A, the founding of the Black Camera newsletter (now Black Camera: An International Film Journal), and the publication of Frame by Frame: A Black Filmography (1979).
Professor Klotman also conducted interviews with filmmakers Larry Clark, Kathleen Collins, Julie Dash, Charles Burnett, Marlon Riggs, and Zeinabu irene Davis, just to name a few. Collecting interviews with filmmakers continues to be part of the Black Film Center/ Archive’s mission, and Klotman’s transcripts and audio recordings are available on site. In 2012, following celebrations of her legacy upon the 30th anniversary of the BFC/A’s founding, a classroom and screening venue at the new BFC/A facility was named “The Phyllis Klotman Room” in her honor.
The BFC/A holdings include several photographs that document Professor Klotman’s time at IU and at the BFC/A. Below is a photo gallery of some of our favorites of Klotman with colleagues, visiting filmmakers, and other notable public figures.
Leslie Houin, “The Black Film Center/Archive: Thirty Years of Archival and Educational Progress” Black Journal 3 no. 2 (Spring 2012): 220-236.