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Tyler Black Film collection showcase on Monday, Feb. 22

Typically, when someone mentions “hidden treasure,” an old chest filled with gold coins and rare gems comes to mind, but on a hot summer day back in 1983, it came in the form of old film canisters.
Professor G. Williams Jones, was the director of what was then called the Southwest Film/Video Archives at Southern Methodist University in Dallas when he received a phone call from a worker at warehouse in Tyler. Jones was asked if the university's archives would be interested in some old films that had been collecting dust and taking up room in the storage facility for decades. If he didn't want them, they were headed for the trash dumpster.  But Jones wanted the canisters for film storage, but when he discovered their contents, he believed he had indeed found hidden treasure.
Now LSC-North Harris has garnered part of the Tyler Black Film Collection, including 11 films and short subjects, to be presented in the college’s Student Center Media Room, #204. 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, February 22. Admission is free.
The canisters contained reels of so-called “race films.” 35-millimeter movies shot on flammable pre-1950's nitrate stock. They were made exclusively for African-American audiences in segregated theaters in the South. Because of unprotected exposure to North Texas temperature extremes, many of the films were completely destroyed or in various degrees of decomposition. But thanks to digital technology, many films have been meticulously restored.
These films, known as the Tyler Black Film Collection will be coming to LSC-North Harris this month as part of campus' celebration of Black History Month. Not long after G. Williams Jones died in the mid  90's, Tinsely Silcox became the director of the SMU Film and Video Archive, which now bears the late professor's name.
Silcox says these films are of vital importance to American history. "When Hollywood made films starring black actors, they were for white audiences and they included racial prejudices, gross caricatures and stereotypes,” says Silcox. “But this collection contains films that were intended for black audiences only.  They're very relevant and accurate ‘slice of life’ portrayals of black culture in the 30's and 40's.”
The collection contains full-length feature films, shorts and newsreels, which include African-American reporters covering issues of the day.
According to Silcox, the films decreased in popularity with the rise of the Civil Rights Movement in the early 1950's. Because of low production quality and pacing issues, the films were considered to be an embarrassment by the African-American community and were largely ignored, but there's been a tremendous resurgence  in their popularity in recent years. Silcox says this collection deserves the attention it’s now getting. He adds, “Film history matters. Films inform of us of our past, regardless of our skin color. This was an art form originally meant to bring laughter and a sense familiarity and entertainment to a group of people who had been marginalized by society.” 
For more information, call 281.765.7936.
Lone Star College-North Harris is located at 2700 W.W. Thorne Drive, one-half mile south of FM 1960 E, between Aldine-Westfield and Hardy Roads. For more information about the college, call 281.618.5400 or visit: lonestar.edu/northharris
Lone Star College System consists of five colleges including LSC-CyFair, LSC-Kingwood, LSC-Montgomery, LSC-North Harris, and LSC-Tomball, six centers, LSC-University Center, LSC-University Park, Lone Star Corporate College, and LSC-Online. With more than 62,000 students in credit classes this fall, LSCS is the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area and third largest community college system in Texas. To learn more visit LoneStar.edu.
Feb. 12, 2010
 Media Contact:
C.C. Sutphen
281.618.5425, desk
281.639.6381, cell