One of Oscar Micheaux’s earliest surviving films is this remarkable work of fractured narratives featuring numerous subplots, unexpected twists, and flashbacks that become virtual films within the film. After her engagement is broken off, Sylvia Landry (Evelyn Preer) leaves Boston for the Deep South to work as a teacher at a school for impoverished black youths. Learning that the institution is on the brink of bankruptcy, Sylvia dedicates herself to saving the school. The film’s most famous sequence involves an extended flashback in which an eligible black doctor interested in Sylvia’s hand learns why she’s reluctant to marry: Micheaux transports us to the past and to the South, where he re-creates a terrifying scene of lynching—at a moment in which such atrocities were sadly commonplace in America. 35mm print preserved by the Library of Congress. The screening will be accompanied by a live piano performance by Donald Sosin.
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