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Isaiah Washington As Oscar Micheaux In JD Walker's 'Becoming Oscar Micheaux'?

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act August 23, 2013 at 12:29PM

I'm definitely portraying Oscar D. Micheaux in the biopic BECOMING OSCAR MICHEAUX written by JD Walker. pic.twitter.com/tewoS6mj24
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Isaiah Washington
Isaiah Washington

Words from Mr Isaiah Washington on Twitter last night, further confirmed by writer/director JD Walker, who also sent a message on Twitter, sharing that the project was in the works.

I'm still waiting to learn more from the filmmaker, so when I do, so will you.

Oscar Micheaux

It's actually quite amazing to me that Oscar Micheaux has yet to be properly celebrated on screen in a biopic, given what the man was able to accomplish, during the period in which he lived. There's a fascinating story here that I think would make for a great film (with the right talents involved, of course), and it would also serve as an introduction (or maybe I should say re-introduction) of Micheaux to a world that I feel hasn't really recognized him and his efforts.

In talking to young filmmakers today (black filmmakers specifically), you'd think Spike Lee was the first African American filmmaker.

There has been at least one documentary - I'm thinking of Midnight Ramble: Oscar Micheaux and the Story of Race Movies (1994), which was a documentary whose title refers to the early 20th-century practice of some segregated cinemas of screening films for African American audiences only at matinees and midnight. The documentary was produced by Pamela Thomas, directed by Pearl Bowser and Bestor Cram, and written by Clyde Taylor. It was first aired on PBS' The American Experience in 1994, and released in 2004.

There's also an upcoming project - another documentary, titled Oscar's Comeback, directed by Lisa Collins.

Producers' Lab participant selected for the IFP's 2011 Project Forum program... the synopsis reads: 

An all-white town. Its black native son. Worlds collide. Witness the melodrama and hijinks fueling the annual Oscar Micheaux Film Festival in GregorySouth DakotaWitness the melodrama and culture collision behind-the-scenes of a unique, annual mom-and-pop film festival held in the struggling, all-white small-town of Gregory, South Dakota. From historical reenactments to heated debates to ‘corporate’ take-over, it’s an everything-goes five-day event dedicated to their most famous ‘native son’ -- the largely forgotten, controversial, early 1900s black film pioneer, Oscar Micheaux (1884 – 1951); known to some as the “Godfather of Independent Cinema”. Shot over the span of 7 summers -- and following the two fiery heads of the fest who take on an ambitious benefactor -- Oscar’s Comeback charts the rise, fall and transformation of the teetering festival. Both serious and entertaining, the film takes a look at outsiderism, smalltown pride, race relations today, and what it means to be a true independent fighting against the odds -- all through the prism of Oscar Micheaux, whose restless spirit has come back ‘home’ to inspire another button-pushing tale.

So, essentially, a festival celebrating a black man in an all-white town, and the ups and downs experienced by the pair of organizers (who are both white) in putting the event together. I'm guessing there are some in this all-white town that aren't too keen on this annual event celebrating this "notorious, complex Negro," to borrow from Wendell B. Harris' words in Chameleon Street.

And it was shot over 7 summers; that's good! It should therefore give the viewer a thorough profile of the festival, the town and the people who live there.

I'm most certainly curious about this upcoming project from Lisa Collins.

Most recently, it was awarded a TAA Marketing & Web Fellowship at the Tribeca Film Institute's 10th Annual Tribeca All Access (TAA) Creative Promise Awards, earlier this year.

So it looks like it's well on its way.

There are 3 clips of the work-in-progress, but I can't embed them. You can watch them on the filmmaker's website HERE.

Now we wait to learn more about this new biopic - Becoming Oscar Micheaux - from director JD Walker and star Isaiah Washington, an actor who's been on something of a roll in the last 12 months.

This article is related to: Isaiah Washington


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