Soul Searching: Black-Themed Cinema from the March on Washington to the Rise of Blaxploitation

Soul Searching: Black-Themed Cinema from the March on Washington to the Rise of Blaxploitation

by Christopher Sieving
     
 

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The sixties were a tremendously important time of transition for both civil rights activism and the U.S. film industry. Soul Searching examines a subject that, despite its significance to African American film history, has gone largely unexplored until now. By revisiting films produced between the march on Washington in 1963 and the dawn of the

Overview

The sixties were a tremendously important time of transition for both civil rights activism and the U.S. film industry. Soul Searching examines a subject that, despite its significance to African American film history, has gone largely unexplored until now. By revisiting films produced between the march on Washington in 1963 and the dawn of the “blaxploitation” movie cycle in 1970, Christopher Sieving reveals how race relations influenced black-themed cinema before it was recognized as commercially viable by the major studios. The films that are central to this book—Gone Are the Days (1963), The Cool World (1964), The Confessions of Nat Turner (never produced), Uptight (1968), and The Landlord (1970)—are all ripe for reevaluation and newfound appreciation. Soul Searching is essential reading for anyone interested in the politics and cultural movements of the 1960s, cinematic trends like blaxploitation and the American “indie film” explosion, or black experience and its many facets.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Film historians and pop-culture enthusiasts alike have largely painted Blaxploitation as a spontaneous movement that arose in the wake of black-power politics to feed the cash-strapped studios' appetite for cheap program pictures, and as the genesis that would inspire later African-American auteurs…and pave the way for more recent inroads African-Americans have made in the industry. Soul Searching shatters that mythology by showing the black films of the 1960s, while few and fragmented, represented the first serious attempts to produce credible, progressive films about African-American life.”—Steve Ryfle, Cineaste

“This remarkable book—well written, accessible, impeccably researched—is perhaps the most important study of African American film history to emerge in the past decade. … The fluidity of the narrative—Sieving is a master of language—ensures this book’s place as the best of film history and theory available. A magnificent contribution to the (existing) literature. Essential.” —G.R. Butters Jr., Choice

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780819571335
Publisher:
Wesleyan University Press
Publication date:
05/02/2011
Series:
Wesleyan Film
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
280
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.90(d)

What People are saying about this

Ed Guerrero
“Soul Searching is an original and thoroughly necessary project, giving the reader a nuanced understanding of a barely critiqued ‘gap’ in black American cinema’s industrial and critical history.”
Paula J. Massood
“Through extensive archival research and a sensitive eye for detail, Christopher Sieving makes a strong case for the important place of films like Gone Are the Days, Uptight, and The Landlord in the shifting landscape of the American film industry during a time of great social, political, and aesthetic change. Moreover, his analysis of The Cool World helps shed new light on a film that has been woefully overlooked in discussions of African American representation.”

Meet the Author

CHRISTOPHER SIEVING is an assistant professor in the Department of Theatre and Film Studies at the University of Georgia. His articles have appeared in various journals, including The Velvet Light Trap and Screening Noir.

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