Oscar Micheaux – The Superhero of Black Filmmaking, the pioneer of African-American cinema

Picture of the movie Oscar Micheaux - The superhero of black filmmaking © DR


Now known as a pioneer in Black filmmaking, filmmaker Oscar Micheaux dropped off the radar following his death in 1951. Fascinated by his incredible life story and the impact he had on contemporary film, Italian director Francesco Zippel pays tribute to him in Oscar Micheaux - The Superhero of Black Filmmaking, a moving memorial he presented as part of Cannes Classics.

Author of six novels and 44 films examining the issue of racial injustices, African-American director and producer Oscar Micheaux was the first to bring the nation a different take on American society and the conditions in which millions of victims of discrimination were living. Yet following his death in 1951, he was widely forgotten, only re-emerging as a figurehead in the late eighties. His fight was a long, complex, and fascinating one that Francesco Zippel documents in Oscar Micheaux – The Superhero of Black Filmmaking.

Filmed entirely by distance via Zoom with a remote US-based team, Francesco Zippel follows in Oscar Micheaux's footsteps to explore the legacy this pioneer left on the present-day film industry. A time-travelling adventure that catapults us back to the places where the filmmaker once lived: rural Illinois and vibrant Chicago in the early 20th century, followed by the plains of South Dakota and Harlem, the cradle of jazz and artistic renaissance.

Oscar Micheaux’s story is a wonderful example of how life should be lived by all of us. He lived against all odds, in dark times, in segregated America. But he was still able to write books, make movies and inspire people.

Oscar Micheaux's incredible story and his struggle for African-American rights are recounted by researchers and those influenced by his art, including John Singleton and Kevin Willmott, as well as icons of the African-American culture and music scene such as Chuck D., legendary hip hop artist and Public Enemy frontman. A fascinating documentary that sheds lights on the challenges inherent to African-American film both past and present, through the lens of one of its most emblematic names.