The film, which is being screened as part of the theater's regular Saturday Silent Cinema series, is the earliest known and complete black film made by an African-American director, and was originally made by Micheaux as a response to D.W. Criffith's 1915, still inflammatory, The Birth of a Nation.
Basically telling the story of black schoolteacher who goes North ro raise funds for better schools in the segregated South, the film, which was made in and around Chicago right after the infamous "Red Summer" race riots in Chicago during the summer of 1919, not only chronicles the Great Migration of African Americans from the South to the North in hopes of a better life, but is a searing indictment against racism, including a still hard-to-watch climactic lynching sequence.
All this along with a plot twist right out of a Victorian melodrama, and a hissable treacherous Uncle Tom-type character who could very well be the prototype for the character of Stephen in Django Unchained.
The film, which was long thought to be lost, was rescued from obscurity when a lone surviving print was found in Spain and restored by the Library of Congress in 1993.
The screening of Gates, since it's a silent film, will feature live musical accompaniment.
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