God’s Stepchildren (1938) by Oscar Micheaux

Sunday, April 14, 1985, 8:00 pm

The Early Black Independent Film — I

Two by Oscar Micheaux


800 Chestnut Street

San Francisco, CA, 94133

God’s Stepchildren (1938), 65 min.; 10 Minutes To Live (1932), 63 min. One of the most overlooked yet substantial genres of film history is the ethnic independent cinema which blossomed during the early years of the talkies. Within this world several impassioned black visionaries carved out niches despite ludicrously low budgets and limited industry support. Tonight’s program highlights two films by Oscar Micheaux, probably the most dedicated of this group. Micheaux oversaw every phase of his productions, hand-delivering prints from theater to theater in small towns of the rural South. While the films appear crude in contrast to the slicker high budget films we are accustomed to, they are filled with an authenticity and insight into their culture unsurpassed for their time. God’s Stepchildren tells the story of a light-skinned Black woman who rebels against her foster parents, with growing resentment of her racial heritage setting her on the road to ruin — it was greeted with riots and controversy upon its release in 1938.