Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Separate Cinema: Just in Time for the Holidays!

This past summer, I was extremely fortunate to receive an email from the publicist for ACC Distribution (Distributors of High Quality Books) asking me if I wanted a review copy of Separate Cinema: The First 100 Years of Black Poster Art. Of course, I was like "Heck yeah!" (that wasn't my exact reply, though). But to be completely honest, I had no idea what to expect. I thought a review copy meant a manuscript or Xeroxed copies of the book in a three-ringed binder (don't judge me). So of course, I was floored when received a "kinda heavy" package in the mail, and I was even more surprised when I opened the package and laid my eyes on one of the most beautiful books I'd ever seen.


The movie poster art for 1943's Cabin in the Sky serves as the cover of this book.

As it is stated in ACC Distribution's product summary, Separate Cinema: 100 Years of Movie Poster Art is a must-have volume "celebrating the first 100 years of black film poster art". It is edited by archivist and founder of Separate Cinema, John Duke Kisch and Reel Art Press co-founder and editor, Tony Nourmand. It also includes a foreword by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and an afterword by the great Spike Lee. 

Afterword by Spike Lee

The book was published by Reel Art Press and distributed by ACC Distribution. In its 320 pages, there are a total of 325 images--250 in color and 75 in black-and-white.

Published by Reel Art Press


The book's cover alone is one of the most physically appealing objects I've ever seen (it's so neat and inviting!). Then, once you get past the cover, your eyes are treated to classic movie poster art in its highest quality (high quality is what ACC Distribution accurately boasts). Separate Cinema: 100 Years of Movie Poster Art takes you on a seemingly unending journey of what may now be considered a dying (or probably even dead) art in the film world: hand-painted movie posters. Some of the images in these posters accurately capture the likeness of the movies' stars, while others simply slapped Uncle Remus, Little Black Sambo, and Topsy on them and said "Finis!", but I'm digressing...

A peek inside


Of course, this isn't just some large picture book. Also filling the pages is written history--sections that provide historical content to the movie posters that you're browsing through, and their respective movies as well. This history and context is provided by the sectioning of movie posters into certain categories. For example, movie posters for The Emperor Jones and Sanders of the River follow a mini-biography on Paul Robeson. Another example: the posters for musical shorts like St. Louis Blues (1929 and 1958) and Black and Tan (1929) are a part of a section titled "Jazz on Film". 

The aforementioned "Jazz on Film" section of the book

So while you're "oohing" and "awing" at the imagery, you're also reading up on Black American history as it relates to American Cinema. 


There are no graphic images in this book. However, there are the unavoidable mentions of some of the dark, tragic, and racism-infused events of the United States' history.


Separate Cinema: 100 Years of Black Poster Art would be a great Christmas gift to a friend or a loved one. You could also purchase it for the coffee table of your own home and make it the "conversation piece" of your Christmas party!

You can visit Reel Art Press or ACC Distribution to purchase Separate Cinema: 100 Years of Black Poster Art.


Again, I want to thank ACC Distribution, particularly Ms. Burch, for graciously allowing me to preview this wonderful book. I also want to thank Mr. Kisch, Reel Art Press, and Mr. Nourmand for making this great collection of art and history accessible to us all. 

All of my love,


*Photos taken by me, Adrienne, and shared for informational purposes only*

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