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.

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Phyllis R. Klotman, 1924-2015

“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).

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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.

Photo Gallery

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Phyllis R. Klotman with Shirley Chisholm, 1973
From left to right: Phyllis Klotman, Alile Sharon Larkin, Frances Stubbs, Gloria Gibson
From left to right: Klotman, Alile Sharon Larkin, Frances Stubbs, Gloria Gibson
From left to right: Julie Dash, Monique Threatt, Phyllis Klotman
From left to right: Julie Dash, Monique Threatt, Phyllis Klotman
Camille Billops and Phyllis Klotman
Camille Billops and Phyllis Klotman
Zeinabu irene Davis and Phyllis Klotman
Zeinabu irene Davis and Phyllis Klotman
Phyllis Klotman with Maya Angelou
Phyllis Klotman with Maya Angelou
Phyllis Klotman with Marlon Riggs
Phyllis Klotman with Marlon Riggs
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Ousmane Sembene and Phyllis Klotman
Phyllis Klotman with Scatman Crothers
Phyllis Klotman with Scatman Crothers


See also: 

“Phyllis R. Klotman, Archivist of African-American Cinema, Dies at 90,” New York Times, Apr. 5, 2015

Leslie Houin, “The Black Film Center/Archive: Thirty Years of Archival and Educational Progress” Black Journal 3 no. 2 (Spring 2012): 220-236.

2 thoughts on “In Memoriam: Phyllis R. Klotman, Founder of the Black Film Center/ Archive

  1. Dr. Klotman was my film professor for 2 semesters at Indiana University. Her tenacity and passion for archiving African American Film is the legacy she leaves us with. Her vast knowledge has become extremely valuable to the the film industry and we appreciate her years of nonstop research that has unveiled priceless treasures for future generations to enjoy. Thank you Dr. Klotman for your dedication to African American Film.

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