Along with Oscar Micheaux, Spencer Williams was one of the great directors of race films, movies made specifically for African-American audiences during the era of segregation, and his debut feature, The Blood of Jesus, shot in Texas with a largely nonprofessional cast on an exceedingly lean $5,000 budget, was one of the most widely seen productions of its kind. The picture concerns a woman who, near death after being accidentally shot by her husband, discovers herself at a crossroads between a heavenly afterlife and damnation. With scenes like its opening river baptism, The Blood of Jesus stands as a significant document of black religious experience in the first half of the 20th century, and a record of everyday life that Hollywood mostly ignored, yet it is also the work of a singular and daring stylist, an auteur who was able to realize visionary compositions with limited means. 35mm print courtesy of The Jones Film and Video Collection, Southern Methodist University.