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Michael Roemer

Michael Roemer, Nothing but a Man, 1964, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 95 minutes. Josie (Abbey Lincoln) and Duff Anderson (Ivan Dixon).

“I’M SLIGHTLY OUT OF SYNC with my own time,” the staunchly independent filmmaker Michael Roemer, who has taught at Yale University School of Art since 1966, told the New York Times in 2004—an observation borne out by the initial reception of most of his work. Roemer’s comment was made forty years after the premiere of Nothing but a Man, a film that boasts one of cinema’s most fully realized African American couples, on the occasion of its DVD release. Although Nothing but a Man was heralded at both the Venice and New York Film Festivals in 1964, it did negligible box office during its limited theatrical release, owing largely to exhibitors resistant to attracting black audiences. Only with its intermittent revivals would Nothing but a Man’s singularity—it remains the rare film about race that forgoes sentimentality—begin to be fully appreciated.

Similarly, Roemer’s

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