Portland’s Hollywood Theater celebrated Black History Month in February 2017 with its Black Film Festival, curated by Marylhurst alum David Walker ’13.
In an interview with The Oregonian, David Walker talked about how he selected the 15 films screened in the Black Film Festival, including the 1973 classic Coffey, with the film’s star, Pam Grier, in attendance.
“Pam Grier is such an iconic figure in American cinema. Not only is she the first black woman to be an action hero, she’s one of the first women to be an action hero, period. Yes, there have been action films with female leads, but no other actress has the same pedigree, which is kind of sad. I really didn’t think we would be able to get her. But we figured it couldn’t hurt to ask. So we did, and she’ll be here, and we can all bow down before her.
“There is an incredibly rich history of African-American films dating back to the early 1900s that most people don’t know about. Very few people know about filmmakers like Oscar Micheaux or Spencer Williams, and for me it is crucial that they find their place in the larger history of film. Everything that we think of when it comes to independent film or arthouse film, it was all pioneered by Micheaux. He’s one of the most important filmmakers in American history.
“Most of our films are about the black American experience. …The marginalization and discrimination black people have faced in this country is nothing new. Some may have been lulled into complacency in recent years, but those are the people not paying attention, or indifferent, or just plain racist. The ideology that Trump has built himself upon is nothing new, and it is the same ideology that has allowed for the continued dehumanization of black people in America for centuries.”
David F. Walker earned his B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Marylhurst University in 2013. He is an award-winning journalist, filmmaker and author. His publication BadAzz MoFo became internationally known as the indispensable resource guide to black films of the 1970s, and he is co-author of the book Reflections on Blaxploitation: Actors and Directors Speak.