Enjoy The Silents

Within Our Gates (1920)

Directed by
Oscar Micheaux

February’s installment of our Enjoy The Silents series spotlights black cinema pioneer Oscar Micheaux, regarded as the first African American feature filmmaker. Within Our Gates, widely considered a reaction to DW Griffith’s infamous Birth Of A Nation, was the second (and earliest surviving) of 44 films Micheaux produced and directed over the course of three decades.

This special Black History Month edition of Enjoy The Silents is free and open to the public.

“[Micheaux] demonstrates mastery of the silent form, using supple compositions and careful editing to amplify the characters’ emotions in a manner that makes sound seem superfluous.” – Chicago Reader

“With a brisk and sharp-edged style, Micheaux sketches a wide view of black society, depicting an engineer with an international career, a private eye with influential friends, a predatory gangster, devoted educators—and the harrowing ambient violence of Jim Crow, which he shows unsparingly and gruesomely.” – The New Yorker

In this early silent film from pioneering director Oscar Micheaux, kindly Sylvia Landry (Flo Clements) takes a fundraising trip to Boston in hopes of collecting $5,000 to keep a Southern school for impoverished black children open to the public. She then meets the warmhearted Dr. Vivian (William Smith), who falls in love with Sylvia and travels with her back to the South. There, Dr. Vivian learns about Sylvia’s shocking, tragic past and realizes that racism has changed her life forever.

• Rated

Evelyn Preer, Flo Clements, James D. Ruffin