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.
This film has no current screenings