Forget the idea that noir cinema primarily depicts a singular set of stories and themes centered around shared trauma, says screenwriter Maya Cade, who spent a year cataloging more than 250 noir films currently streaming between 1915 and 1979. Its efforts to make this rich history easily accessible culminated with the launch of the Black Film Archive last week. From silent films and horror films to blockbuster comedies and romance, black cinema spans ever-expanding genres and generations, now archived on its site.
In his introductory note, Cade writes that the films in the archives “have something important to say about the black experience; speaking to a black audience; and/or have a black star, writer, producer or director. The intentionally broad criteria are an attempt to expand the ways in which film noir is framed. “I thought a lot about how making black cinema history accessible is the act of transforming collective memory,” Cade told me. “To intentionally preserve is to remember, and to remember is to reimagine what the future may hold. Here, movies can be many things, and some of those things are remembered, cherished, and seen.
Beyond the archive, Cade is also one of the few people using Twitter to spread the joy, bringing snippets of cultural history — and countless gems of cinema as a whole — to the feeds of his followers everyday. She will continue to update the archive monthly and maintain an additional newsletter. Explore the rich array of film noir: if you have an hour to spare, pick a movie and start streaming.