Jacqueline Stewart is a film scholar, archivist and curator who has been honored by the MacArthur Foundation for “ensuring that the contributions of neglected black filmmakers and viewing communities have a place in the public imagination.”
Stewart, who grew up in Chicago, said while earning his doctorate. at the University of Chicago, film studies were still being formalized.
“I was really interested in the roots of the history of cinema in Chicago and particularly the history of black cinema in Chicago, so I did a lot of research on the era of the silent and filmmakers like Oscar Micheaux, who was a pioneer in making black public films, ”she said.
Stewart is the artistic and programming director of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which opened last week in Los Angeles. She also remains at the faculty of the University of Chicago where she initiated the South Side Home Movie Project.
“For me, studying filmmaking at the homes of the people of the South Side of Chicago was kind of a fix for film studies, and then as a native of the South Side, I was really, really curious. I wanted to see what kinds of things people were shooting when they had the cameras in hand, and it turns out that home movies are a remarkable archive of everyday life on the South Side – of buildings that no longer hold and businesses, ” she declared. “They activate memories, public memories that I think are so precious, especially to counter the really damaging and negative media portrayal.”