Jacqueline Stewart is a film scholar, archivist and curator who has been honored by the MacArthur Foundation for “ensuring that the contributions of overlooked Black filmmakers and communities of spectators have a place in the public imagination.”
Stewart, who grew up in Chicago, said while getting her Ph.D. at the University of Chicago film study was still becoming formalized.
“I was really interested in the Chicago roots of film history and especially interested in Black film history in Chicago, so I did a lot of research on the silent era and filmmakers like Oscar Micheaux, who was a pioneer in making Black cast films for segregated Black audiences,” she said.
Stewart is the chief artistic and programming officer at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which opened last week in Los Angeles. She also remains on the faculty of the University of Chicago where she launched the South Side Home Movie Project.
“For me, studying the home moviemaking of people on the South Side of Chicago was a way of kind of correcting the record where film studies is concerned, and then as a native South Sider I was just really curious. I wanted to see what kinds of things people shot when they had the cameras in their own hands, and it turns out that home movies are remarkable archives of everyday life on the South Side – buildings that no longer stand and businesses,” she said. “They activate memories, public memories that I think are so valuable, especially to counteract the really detrimental, negative media representation.”