chapter  4
34 Pages

Intersectionality and Experiments in Black Documentary

D. W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation (1915), considered by many to be the symbolic, although not literal, origin of U.S. cinema, is frequently offered up by film historians as the inaugural moment of African-American cinema as well.2 Based upon Thomas Dixon's bestselling novel The Clansman (1905) and authenticated by Woodrow Wilson's History of the American People (1902), Birth, the first feature length studio production, established fundamental codes of narrative film practice, and reproduced and circulated as truth for mass consumption the full range of black stereotypes for record-breaking audiences.