David Wark Griffith (January 22, 1875 – July 23, 1948) was an American film director. Widely considered as the most important filmmaker of his generation, he pioneered financing of the feature-length movie.
His film The Birth of a Nation (1915) made investors a profit, but also attracted much controversy, as it depicted African Americans in a negative light and glorified the Ku Klux Klan. Intolerance (1916) was made as an answer to his critics, but not as an apology for the negative images of African Americans in film. Several of Griffith's later films were also successful, including Broken Blossoms (1919), Way Down East (1920) and Orphans of the Storm (1921), but the high costs he incurred for production and promotion often led to commercial failure. He had made roughly 500 films by the time of his final feature, The Struggle (1931).
Together with Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks he founded United Artists, enabling them to control their own interests, rather than depending on commercial studios. Griffith was also a founding member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.