From the interview:
"When did independent cinema as we generally define it today — small-budgeted, character-driven, thematically off-beat — take off?
It was always there. One could argue the so-called “race films” – all-black films produced exclusively for racially segregated audiences in the Jim Crow period – were setting that example beginning in the early 1920s, when Oscar Micheaux [right] was producing and directing films such as Within Our Gates."
Read the rest of the interview at Alternative Film Guide.