Five years ago, when I began the initial research for this work, I examined a number of the best known books on "black film" and came up with several key questions. First, where were the stories of blacks behind the camera, the stories of the filmmakers, the actors, the technicians, the producers? Had there been any? If there had been who were they? And, most importantly, had any written or visual material been done on them? Also, what about black film traditions or activity outside of the U.S.? What had been or was being done in Europe, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America? Since nobody seemed ready to provide an answer I decided then to focus my attention on these areas.
After this my next step was to decide what the criterion for inclusion and exclusion, both in terms of topics and individuals as well as types of materials, should be. In the latter case the answer was simple. As with my previous bibliographies I opted for the most inclusive policy possible, stipulating only that the items to be included needed to be verifiable by myself. Types of materials included range from books, dissertations, unpublished papers, and periodical and newspaper articles, to films, videotapes and audiotapes in most of the major Western languages.
On the issue of topics and individuals my choices have been somewhat more subjective and selective. In the case of the Africa section I have decided to include a good deal of information on both colonial and ethnographic film activity as well as works on indigenous African films and filmmaking. This is to provide the researcher with some sense of the images to which both African and non-African audiences were exposed prior to the introduction of indigenous African film activity. In addition I thought it might be useful to include works which chronicle the types of film activity which led up to or at least pre-dated the coming of indigenous African filmmaking. For the U.S., on the other hand, I have chosen to offer only selective, albeit extensive, coverage of works on films made by white filmmakers. Materials on seventeen of these, those judged by the author to have the most historical importance in terms of their representation of the African American image from 1915 to 1989, may be found at the end of the General Works section of the United States chapter.