TCM Reveals New Host For Its Sunday Silent Movie Programming

Posted by at 3:14 pm on September 9, 2019

University of Chicago professor Jacqueline Stewart has been announced as host of Silent Sunday Nights, the 25-year-old Turner Classic Movies (TCM) block that offers iconic movies from the silent era as well as forgotten gems and international classics. Stewart is a professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies, specializing in the history of African American cinema from the silent era to the present. She is also a three-term appointee to the National Film Preservation Board (NFPB), which advises the Librarian of Congress on policy, and is the Chair of the NFPB Diversity Task Force working to ensure the films chosen for the National Film Registry reflect diversity and inclusion.

For Stewart, hosting TCM’s “Silent Sunday Nights” is an opportunity that meshes harmoniously with the kind of work she’s been doing throughout her career.

“It’s an incredible alignment of my expertise as a scholar across my career, which has included trying to reach beyond academia and enter the mainstream,” said Stewart, whose relationship with TCM began three years ago, when she was invited to present films that are featured on a groundbreaking compilation she co-curated, titled “Pioneers of African American Cinema.”

It was a monumental collection of historically vital films by the earliest African American filmmakers, digitally mastered in HD using archival elements.

A Chicago native, Stewart curates a local film series called “Cinema 53,” which spotlights women and people of color. She also shepherds the archival South Side Home Movie Project which accumulates, digitizes and screens amateur films shot by people who live in the infamous south side of Chicago. That she is an African American woman, and the first black host of a TCM programming staple, is certainly appreciated by Stewart, who fully expects her identity will be of influence on the framing of the franchise going forward.

“I think it’s extremely significant, and I feel honored, while also feeling appropriately pressured,” she said. “I never feel like I walk into any space as just myself. I carry with me specific histories and strengths. And so I think that for so many of us who operate in predominantly white spaces, which is not new to me as an academic, we can choose to accept quite a bit of responsibility for speaking for our people.

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