COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A Columbus film center is bringing the earliest works of African American cinema onto the big screen this winter.

In a new series, the Gateway Film Center is showcasing Black filmmakers and actors from over a century ago. Each work has been restored from the early 1900’s and will premiere due to local artists and authors who are passionate about bringing these films to the big screen.

“People said, we didn’t know Black artists had done this kind of stuff,” said Larry James, chairman of the Gateway Film Center. “I think this film will have the same sort of effect.”

The brand-new film series, “Pioneers of African American Cinema,” is running from January through March at the center, featuring several movies from the early days of Black film.

“This is the very first presentation of the program in this way, and tonight’s screenings features a film from 1920, made by Oscar Micheaux called ‘Within Our Gates,’ and it’s silent, and the Columbus Jazz Orchestra will be in the screening room performing a new score at the same time audience members watch the film,” said Chris Hamel, president and CEO of the center.

Hamel said he came to James with the idea to showcase these films in Ohio. With the help of several donors and community partners, they were able to raise the funds to screen these movies for the first time in Columbus.

The series was partly inspired by local author and journalist Wil Haygood, who wrote a novel titled, “Colorization: One Hundred Years of Black Film in a White World.”

“One of the outlets for Black creatives, and on a very small scale because they had to do it for the most part away from Hollywood, was cinema,” said Haygood.

Haygood said he began writing about Black cinema due to his own experiences going to the theaters in Columbus. He was also honored to hear that his novel helped inspire those at Gateway to bring these films here.

“And really you had the birth of Black cinema with Oscar Micheaux, and inside of this moment, that’s being celebrated at the Gateway,” said Haygood.

Hamel said these films aren’t just meant to be enjoyed by Black audiences, but those of all backgrounds.

“Almost joyous tears, because you’re sitting there, and you see this incredible film, that you had no idea of the depth of the film, the quality of the film and the messaging. And with jazz arts in the background, it just all came together,” said James.

View more information on show times and screenings here.