Oscar Micheaux (1884–1951) was the most successful black independent filmmaker of the race-movie era. Between 1919 and 1948, Micheaux wrote, directed, and produced approximately 40 films. A savvy businessman and promoter, he worked directly with theater owners to finance, distribute, and market his films. Though he modeled his movies on popular Hollywood genres, he also explored taboo subjects such as lynching, interracial sex, religious hypocrisy, and color and class prejudice within the African American community.
The first black-cast feature film with sound, The Exile (1931), was based on Micheaux’s 1913 autobiographical novel, The Conquest. It tells the story of a young African American man who migrates from Chicago to South Dakota and falls in love with a woman on the other side of the color line.