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For the past century African American cinema has primarily been an independent phenomenon. However, recent and consistent inclusion in the mainstream film industry of Hollywood suggests a significant change in its status. Despite a tendency to posit the ‘genre’ as ‘other’ it is not a separate cinema. Contemporary African American cinema contextualizes its forms and themes within the American film tradition. With crossover success and critical acclaim, it became clear by 1991 that profit would be a motive for expansion, and that these films had established profound connections not only with Black audiences and agendas but within a diverse mainstream audience as well. ‘Contemporary African American cinema’ continues to sustain itself while informing, mediating, challenging, and entertaining American audiences.