The films of the photographer, cinematographer and filmmaker James E. Hinton were donated to the HFA in 2008. Hinton began making photographs while he was an active participant in the Civil Rights movement in the 1950’s. As a witness to the violent reactions that the movement provoked in the American South, he captured moments that were often overlooked by the main stream media. In 1957 he was one of several correspondents that documented the shooting of Lester James in Seneca, South Carolina. In 1961, again in South Carolina, he documented the reprisals against Harry Briggs and the efforts by the NAACP to relocate Briggs and his family to New York City. While the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s are well known, Hinton’s photographs include images of those who walked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, as well as the angry white crowds that gathered along the march routes both in the North and the South. He began exhibiting his photographs in 1963 and then went on to study at the highly regarded Kamonge photography workshop for African Americans in New York in 1965.
In the late sixties, he turned to commercial film production and in 1973 he was hired as the cinematographer on the feature film Ganja and Hess. Hinton used his experience as a documentary filmmaker and photographer to bring the techniques of cinema verité to the shooting style of the film. A groundbreaking film for the period, Ganja and Hess, (ostensibly a black sexploitation vampire film) became renowned for its all black cast and its scenes of elegant, multi-lingual Afro Americans imbibing blood instead of martinis. With Ganja and Hess, Hinton changed the look of Afro American filmmaking by insisting that the skin tones of the black actors and actresses in the film not be lightened photographically, a technique which was standard at the time. For researchers interested in the history of the American Civil Rights movement or the evolution of Afro American film, the titles in this collection will be of great interest.
A finding aid for the James E. Hinton Collection can be found here.