Preservation Conversation: Lime Kiln Club Field Day with MoMA’s Ron Magliozzi

Preservation Conversation: Lime Kiln Club Field Day with MoMA’s Ron Magliozzi

Presentation before the screening by MoMA’s Ron Magliozzi. Live DJ set to accompany the films by musician Jeff Parker.

In fall 1913, a pioneering cast of Black performers and an interracial crew, including the veteran comedian and Ziegfeld Follies stage star Bert Williams, gathered in the Bronx to make a motion picture. After well over an hour of film had been shot, the project was abandoned by its white producers, who packed the footage away in unmarked cans, leaving no written record of its existence. Twenty-five years later, in 1938, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) film curator Iris Barry rescued a cache of nine hundred negatives from the vaults of the bankrupt Biograph film studio, by chance securing the survival of the 1913 footage as well as still images and moving-image fragments documenting the cast and crew on set. 

The earliest surviving feature-length film with an all-black cast,  Lime Kiln Club Field Day  follows the efforts of Williams’s character to win the hand of a local beauty (Odessa Warren Grey). Its highlights include a high-energy African American dance routine and a display of onscreen affection between the lead actors, at a time when such scenes were considered unacceptable for white audiences. A long-lost landmark of film history, it is evidence that attempts were made at interracial collaboration in American film much earlier in the century than was previously known. 

Led by Ron Magliozzi, Curator, Department of Film at MoMA, this presentation will showcase the outtakes from the film as well as the archival assembly of the never-completed film accompanied by a live DJ set from musician Jeff Parker. The film will be followed by a Q&A discussing the film’s rediscovery, subsequent restoration, and its impact and reverberations through cinema histories and culture.  

Programmed and note by K.J. Relth-Miller

Lime Kiln Club Field Day Outtakes  
2014. 7 min. USA. B&W. Silent. Digital.  
Lime Kiln Club Field Day, Archive Assembly 
1914/2014. 60 min. USA. B&W. Silent. Digital.  

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