Regeneration: An Introduction

Aug 25 – Sep 29, 2022
The Nicholas Brothers in a scene from Stormy Weather, 1943, from left, Fayard Nicholas and Harold Nicholas. Photographic print, gelatin silver. Courtesy Margaret Herrick Library, ©Twentieth Century Fox

The Academy Museum’s landmark exhibition Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898–1971 explores the visual culture of Black cinema in its manifold expressions, from cinema’s dawn in the late 19th century through the civil rights movements of the 1960s and their aftermath into the early ‘70s. The exhibition is an in-depth look at Black participation in American filmmaking. Regeneration highlights the work of African American filmmakers and creates dialogues with visual artists while simultaneously expanding discussions surrounding US film history.

The series kicks off with the world premiere of a newly restored “lost” race films, Reform School (1939). Race films were works made with all-Black casts that were distributed almost exclusively to Black audiences throughout the segregated United States.

Covering the same 70+ year span as the exhibition, this series ranges from showcasing silent era pioneers such as writer-producer-director Oscar Micheaux’s low-budget dramas to the groundbreaking allegories of Spencer Williams and the independently produced, genre-defying works of innovators such as Melvin Van Peebles. Audiences will also be introduced to stars largely unknown to mainstream moviegoers—Ralph Cooper, Clarence Brooks, and Francine Everett—alongside iconic screen legends Paul Robeson, Josephine Baker, Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Lena Horne, and more.

Programmed by Bernardo Rondeau
Notes by Bernardo Rondeau and Robert Reneau

Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898-1971 is the recipient of the 2018 Sotheby’s Prize. The exhibition is made possible in part by major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Technology solutions generously provided by Christie®. Lead support provided by Campari® and J. P. Morgan Private Bank.