Oscar Micheaux, the first African-American to produce a feature-length film (The Homesteader (1919) in 1920) and a sound feature-length film (The Exile (1931) in 1931), is not a major figure in American film just for these milestones, but because his oeuvre is a window onto the American psyche as regards race and its deleterious effects on individuals and society. He also is a pioneer of independent cinema. Though the end products of his labors often were technically crude due to budgetary constraints, Micheaux the filmmaker is a symbol of the artist triumphing over long odds to bring his vision to the public at large while serving in the socially important role of critical spirit.
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