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Grant number: TR-50542-14

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Center for Independent Documentary, Inc. (Boston, MA 02135-1032)
Bestor Cram (Project Director: August 2013 to present)

Birth of a Movement: Hollywood's First Blockbuster and the Battle for Civil Rights

Production of a documentary film about the reception of "Birth of a Nation" (1915), D.W. Griffith's landmark film and the movement to protest the film's portrayal of African Americans.

Famously, D.W. Griffith's masterpiece film "Birth of a Nation" is credited with transforming Hollywood and pioneering many of the techniques that have made the feature film America's most celebrated and widely exported cultural creation. Infamously, the movie was flagrantly racist and glorified the Ku Klux Klan as its central protagonist. But what is neither famous nor infamous is the way America reacted to this revolutionary film. This is the largely unknown story we aim to tell. While the film was a box office smash that became the first film ever to be screened at the White House, it proved divisive in a nation still struggling in the aftermath of Civil War Reconstruction and galvanizing to leaders of the national African American community in adopting a more aggressive approach in their fight for equality.

Project fields:
Interdisciplinary Studies, General

America's Media Makers: Production Grants

Public Programs

Total amounts:
$372,076 (approved)
$372,076 (awarded)

Grant period:
4/1/2014 – 6/30/2017