December 10, 2008
DALLAS (SMU) — The G. William Jones Film and Video Collection at SMU’s Hamon Arts Library has been awarded a National Film Preservation Foundation grant for $27,270 to preserve Spencer Williams’ classic 1941 film, The Blood of Jesus, the hugely successful African American salvation drama.
These funds will allow the library to use its print - the only known 35mm print in existence - to create a new negative, prints, and videos. These new materials will be available for teaching and research, and the library will be making them available to the public through a number of screenings.
The debut screening of the new print is planned for February 2009 in conjunction with an Oscar Micheaux conference at Columbia University.
"The Blood of Jesus, shot in Texas on a shoestring budget, is probably the most popular movie made for African American audiences before World War II," said Jacqueline Stewart, professor of film at Northwestern University and National Film Preservation Board member. "It is the first feature by writer-director Spencer Williams, later a star of TV's Amos 'n' Andy, whose films have been vastly underappreciated despite his unique ability to capture Black religious and cultural practices while experimenting with film style."
The Blood of Jesus was named by the Library of Congress to the National Film Registry in 1991.
About The G. William Jones Film and Video Collection
The Jones Collection was established in 1970 by Dr. G. William Jones, an SMU Professor of Cinema and Video. Originally known as the Southwest Film/Video Archives, the Collection was renamed in 1995 in memory of Dr. Jones. The Collection contains more than 9,000 film prints and negatives in all formats and more than 3,000 videotapes stored in a climate-controlled facility. Print materials and antique film equipment are also part of the collection. Among the Collection’s moving image holdings are feature films, news film and video, animation classics, documentaries, television series, and student films. Highlights include the Tyler, Texas, Black Film Collection; the Gene Autry collection; the Belo news film collection; the Sulphur Springs pre-nickelodeon films; and Alfred Hitchcock’s 1926 feature, The Pleasure Garden.
For more information on the collection, visit http://smu.edu/cul/hamon/collections/jones.htm.
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