I Will Follow opening March 18, 2011, at the AMC Metreon in SF


Opening MARCH 18, 2011



Through the Newly-Formed Black Film Distribution Collective:

The African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM)

I Will Follow is one of the best films I’ve seen about coming to terms with the death of loved one. Directed by Ava DuVernay, it isn’t sentimental, it isn’t superficial. It is very deeply true.”

– Roger Ebert, Ebert Presents

“In one way or another, every emotion in this wonderful independent film is one I’ve experienced myself.  This is a universal story about universal emotions. This is the kind of film black filmmakers are rarely able to get made these days, offering roles for actors who remind us here of their gifts.”

– Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times


“Sensitively scripted by writer-director Ava DuVernay, this drama about the grieving process rings true while avoiding the trap of succumbing to melodrama.”

– Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter


“Its elegantly simple structure filled in with startling, understated force, I Will Follow is a modestly framed portrait of grief in its first season.”

– Michelle Orange, Village Voice


“Though it wasn’t made with showy artistry, Ava DuVernay’s quiet drama is filled with earnest, honest emotion. DuVernay’s feature debut is simple and almost proudly plain. But such a stripped-down approach allows its authenticity to shine.”

– Elizabeth Weitzman, NY Daily News


I Will Follow, Ava DuVernay’s triumphant feature debut, is a life-affirming portrait of a woman juggling all kinds of loss.  DuVernay has confidence in her actors that is reciprocated in kind. Richardson-Whitfield gives a remarkably empathetic performance. For a relatively untested filmmaker (she is a veteran movie publicist and has made one documentary), DuVernay tells her story with economy and restraint. She shows the characters, does not explain them for us.”

– Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer


“’I Will Follow’ is a thoughtful, well-acted drama and tribute to a lost one.  “I Will Follow” challenges Tyler Perry’s dominance in the field.”

– John Hartl, Seattle Times


Starring Salli Richardson-Whitfield (“I Am Legend,” “Antwone Fisher”), Omari Hardwick (“For Colored Girls”), Dijon Talton (“Glee”), Tracie Thoms (“Rent”) and Michole White (“She Hate Me”), with Blair Underwood (“The Event”) and Beverly Todd (“Crash”).

I WILL FOLLOW is the first theatrical release through the grassroots black film distribution collective known as African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM), which initially opened the film day and date in select cities through AMC Independent on March 11, 2011.

Introducing Haitian Film Director, Rachelle Salnave

Find Out More About the Haitian Experience and Haitian Film Director Rachelle Salnave at the
Moonlite Haitian Restaurant & Bar – 3302 LAVENTURE DR, TUCKER

Friday, March 18 · 7:00pm – 9:00pm

RSVP via Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=158927420830248

From Rachelle:
Please accept my invitation to play an important role in the fulfillment of the vision to make our community culturally and economically strong. Join me to create your personal access to improving the quality of life for Haitians in Atlanta, and to fulfill your desire to make a difference for the people of Haiti, and Haitians throughout the world.

On the program …

1. Introduction to The Haitian Alliance as an access to making a difference in our community and in Haiti
2. Introduction to Rachelle Salnave, film director, who is paving a pathway into the richness of community life
3. Networking with the movers and shakers in our community to raise funds for a new documentary about the Haitian experience entitled “La Belle Vie: The Good Life”

BBC’s “Being Human” airs Saturdays at 9 p.m.

You know that I’m a fan of the BBC’s original series “Being Human”… even more so than SyFy’s watered down version.

Needless to say, I believe that the viewer should come to their own conclusions given all of the episodes.

If you’re interested in seeing what all of the buzz is about, the BBC’s “Being Human” will be showing their fourth episode this Saturday at 9 p.m. on BBC America.

You’ll have a chance to check in because there’s only been a showing of three episodes so far, and if you catch up with those episodes OnDemand or through the BBC’s smart programming (which always precedes the new episode with one or two of the previous ones), I know you’ll be hooked.

The U.K. has been hitting the ball out of the park for the past couple of years, specifically in regards to casting opportunities for Blacks in film and television. Maybe it’s the fact that they embraced the abolitionist movement and eradicated slavery in the British Empire more than 30 years before the United States (with the notable exceptions “of the Territories in the Possession of the East India Company,” the “Island of Ceylon,” and “the Island of Saint Helena“).  Then again, I could be wrong…

“Being Human” is in its third season and, so far, this season doesn’t disappoint.

Episode 4 turns up the heat on the monster lair and finds the werewolf couple Nina and George in the very real possibility of having puppies, while the sexy vampire Mitchell and the permanently nice and ethereal ghost Annie (played by Lenora Crichlow) see how far their mutual crush can go.

Be sure to catch the re-airing of Episode 3 before the premiere of Episode 4. In Episode 3 an indignant drunk zombie named Sasha (“Like the Beyonce album…”) chases Annie all the way home and the monsters have to make a decision of letting in her decomposing body or leaving her on the lawn until she (ahem) cools off.

The zombie episode is pure “Being Human” with its cheeky references to pop culture, soccer wives and the club scene. (Yes, Sasha tries in vain to keep up her looks and doesn’t disappoint when she drops it like it’s hot on the dance floor way into her decomposition…)

Catch the BBC’s “Being Human” on Saturday, March 12, 2011, at 9 p.m., and be sure to check in early to see a re-airing of last week’s “Sasha” episode.


When did Mammy become an attorney?

Clutch Magazine reported that BigGovernment.com has produced yet another tasteless, and borderline racist cartoon –this time targeting the United States’ First Lady Michelle Obama.

It seems like the First Couple has been a thorn in conservative sides sense President Obama’s 2002 presidential run to become our 44th President of the United States.

Bucking the images that warm many conservative hearts –that is, Welfare Queens, criminal activity, etc.– the First Couple has been a sparkling reminder of the “good side” of contemporary, mutually-respecting married couples, and not the snapdragon, gum popping, eye-rolling, argumentative representations we’ve seen in American television, film, and media.

The cartoon was so offensive that talk show host Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC’s “The Last Word”, publicly decried on his show that he considered it a “racist obscenity”.

The cartoon history of parodying political figures is a long one and there have been numerous examples of mainstream racist and offensive imagery …during Jim Crow.

In the cartoon, First Lady Michelle Obama is drawn as overweight, darker (than her actual skin color), with neon pink lips, and smacking on  an enormous amount of food (a direct conflict of her policy on obesity).

So why are these images so familiar and hurtful?

During the Civil War, Reconstruction and the Jim Crow-era, African Americans and the subjects of freeing enslaved people and formerly enslaved (and free) people-of-color being elected to public office, getting an education, marrying, and owning land, sparked violent reactions in whites who wanted to continue their idea of white supremacy. By removing obstacles that prevented African Americans from being subjugated, it was becoming increasingly apparent that the propaganda racist whites had been spreading was quickly being upended. The system of racially segregating recently freed African Americans  was called Jim Crow and operated between 1876 and 1965.

In order to justify the system, the media used negative, stereotyping imagery to undermine what little gains had been won after the Civil War. Also, up until the end of the end of the Civil War (1865), African Americans were still considered three-fifths of a human being:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

Common images began to emerge including that of  the “sassy” fat mammy (who was the unflinching defender of white families and children).

Mammy was always presented as obese, dark, wearing a kerchief, and grinning through exaggerated pink or red lips. She was given a back-hand respect because of her role as a wet nurse, cook, and alternate “mother”; however, she was never given freedom or a purpose outside of white service.

According to the Jim Crow Museum at Ferris State University, “Mammy is the most well known and enduring racial caricature of African American women” (http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/mammies/).

Some conservative web-sites have picked up the mantle of Jim Crow imagery, not only disrespecting the Office of the Presidency, but de-humanizing the Obama family to the point where this pattern is no longer something to be ignored.

In 2009 an altered image of Michelle Obama appeared in Google search results, prompting Google to (finally) make the following statement:

Sometimes Google search results from the Internet can include disturbing content, even from innocuous queries. We assure you that the views expressed by such sites are not in any way endorsed by Google…The beliefs and preferences of those who work at Google, as well as the opinions of the general public, do not determine or impact our search results. Individual citizens and public interest groups do periodically urge us to remove particular links or otherwise adjust search results. Although Google reserves the right to address such requests individually, Google views the integrity of our search results as an extremely important priority. Accordingly, we do not remove a page from our search results simply because its content is unpopular or because we receive complaints concerning it.

However, if the photo were not First Lady Obama would Google have gone to such lengths. I’ve personally contact Google when they were becoming the premiere search engine for the Internet and commented on the fact that search results for “Black women” or “African American women” included a majority of adult images and sites. Their response? Basically, that’s too bad, nobody’s complained. (I wish I had saved that response because it said so much about at least one person working there!)

Negative imagery of African Americans is unacceptable –no matter how much the images are wrapped in the guise of parody. Minstrels were parodies, too.

And the Winnies Go To…

Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard will star in the movie Winnie, about South African activist and legend Winnie Mandela. As I reported in 2009, the Creative Workers of South Africa boycotted the movie not on the terms that they didn’t like Ms. Hudson’s acting, but on the terms that the movie failed to hire local Africans in front of and behind the camera. Since I haven’t seen Jennifer Hudson in anything except Dreamgirls and “American Idol,” I will wait to give my opinion.

However, Americans seemed to have missed the commanding performance of British actress Sophie Okonedo in the BAFTA-award nominated, BBC mini-series, “Mrs. Mandela.” Here are both trailers of the iron souled (and controversial) queen of the anti-apartheid movement Winne Mandela.


Mrs. Mandela

Cathy Hughes Tells Us How She Really Feels…

TVOne media titan Cathy Hughes shared her thoughts with Ms. Drama TV at the TVOne 2011 programming showcase at Cipriani’s in New York City. The event –which occurred earlier this February– highlighted the new faces to the TVOne family Tatyana Ali, LisaRaye, Toccarra, and others. In the on-the-spot interview, Cathy Hughes –who has created a media giant in offering an urban television entertainment alternative to the increasingly tired BET– goes on to share her thoughts about the two Oscars® that went to actresses Halle Berry and Mo’Nique, likening the roles to, “(L)ower than dirt.”

Hmmmm. Though I didn’t hear any backlash against Denzel Washington’s drug-dealing, Sherm smoking, murder-thug-rollin, illegal drug harboring role in Training Day, she does offer some interesting viewpoints on why film doesn’t focus on portrayals of some positive Black women such as the 44th First Lady Michelle Obama. I also don’t agree with all of her gushing accolades for the work of Martin Lawrence and Tyler Perry –i.e., I don’t ignore the impact of image just because of the subject’s ability to hire a wide swath of Black people… like “Flavor of Love”– but she has some good points.

Listen/view for yourself:

National Film Preservation Foundation’s Avant-Garde Masters Grants

Philanthropy News Digest (PND) announced the National Film Preservation Foundation’s (NFPF) Avant-Garde Masters Grants for film preservation.

One of the films preserved by the NFPF

Carnival in Trinidad (1953)

Director/Photographer: Fritz Henle. Editor: Robert Sosenko. Writer: Richard Plant. Music: Macbeth. Transfer Note: Digital file made from a 16mm print preserved by the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Running Time: 13 minutes.

Fritz Henle was a versatile photographer who worked in a variety of genres, from fashion and celebrity portraiture to industrial landscapes. Born in Germany in 1909, he emigrated to the United States in 1936 and started freelancing for LIFE magazine. By the 1950s, he was one of the best-known photographers in America. His work was widely circulated in such periodicals as Harper’s Bazaar, Holiday, Town & Country, and U.S. Camera.

About the Archive
Founded in 1957, the Harry Ransom Center is one of the premiere libraries for humanities research in the United States. The Center’s diverse holdings range from the dresses worn by Vivian Leigh in Gone with the Wind to the Watergate Papers of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

View the entire film and notes at: http://www.filmpreservation.org/preserved-films/screening-room/carnival-in-trinidad-1953


The National Film Preservation Foundation invites applications for Avant-Garde Masters Grants. These cash preservation grants are available to nonprofit and public archives for laboratory work that preserves significant examples of America’s avant-garde film heritage.

The program supports the preservation of a film or films by a single filmmaker or from a cinematic group significant to the development of avant-garde film in America. Works made within the last twenty years are not eligible. Applications should show how the proposed titles have made a significant contribution to American experimental film or, if the works are lesser known today, demonstrate how the films will contribute to a better understanding of avant-garde film history. Proposals must also explain why the proposed films are in need of preservation and include plans detailing how the films will be made available to the public and the scholarly community.

Grants are available to public and 501(c)(3) nonprofit archives in the United States, including those that are part of federal, state, and local government.

The program will fund several preservation projects with grants ranging between $10,000 and $50,000. Funds must be used to pay for laboratory work involving the creation of new film preservation elements (which may include sound tracks) and two new public access copies, one of which must be a film print.

The NFPF also offers Matching Grants, Awarded Grants, and Basic Preservation Grants.

Find out more about the Avant-Garde Masters Grants (http://www.filmpreservation.org/nfpf-grants/avant-garde-masters-grants)

Presto-Change-o! Who are you? Being Human on SyFy

I am a die-hard Being Human fan. Let’s start there.

I’m not talking about the American version on the SyFy channel, but the real, hardcore, original version from the U.K.’s BBC.  I’ve been a vampire movie genre fan since I read Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice while I was a freshman in high school. Of course, the latest manifestations of vampires appear to be a battalion of pout-mouthed, cherry lipped, 17-year old Duran Duran rejects who were turned while still in high school. (That gives a whole new meaning to bullying.) All of the new vampires look like they borrowed they’re girlfriend’s Bonnie Bell Cherry lip gloss –you know, because vampire lips get so chapped.

Then came along a much hunkier, manlier, raven-haired, man-candy, U.K. version of a televised vampire –Mitchell. (I have a co-worker who clued me in to this special, and, needless to say, Mitchell [played by the Irish-born Aidan Turner] apparently gets a thumbs up from large swath of middle-aged African American women. Make sure to watch last season’s episode where they flash back to the 1960’s –hottie alert!)

Aside from the incredibly imaginative writing and spot-on acting, I was also hooked on the fact that the resident ghost –of an ensemble of a werewolf, vampire and ghost–  was an actress of obvious Black heritage!  Annie (played by the beautiful Trinidadian and English actress Lenora Crichlow) is an awesome actress and perfectly fits in the ensemble!

Even though the British got the whole monarchy thing wrong —and I can say that because I’m a direct descendant of King Edward I of England, Joan of Arce, et al… no joke– the one thing they seem to get right all the time is the casting of Black actors. (Think: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Sophie Okonedo, et al.)

Not only was Annie a resident ghost living with a vampire and a werewolf, she was cast as a third actor in an ensemble piece, not as “The Black Ghost” who makes sure to roll her neck/pop her gum/give a good sturdy, Hmmph!/smack her lips/put her hands on her hips before she manifests or disappears. She’s just one of the lead actors! Brilliant.

Believe it or not, Annie the Ghost also has a comparable number of storylines to the other leading actors –both of whom are white. Being Human (UK) has kept me enthralled every season with their great acting and writing.

Then SyFy makes a big announcement in January 2011 that they’re making an American version (read: sucks) of Being Human.

What?! Are you people on crack? That was my first thought. Then I got angry.

Oh please, oh please, don’t mess this up! I kept my fingers crossed and silently fumed at the thought of an American version of yet another BBC series. (Let’s not forget Da Ali G Show, Celebrity Fit Club, I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!, and American Idol. I think the only one we got right was Three’s Company.)

Let me state now that I don’t hate American television.

I just hate it when a network gets soooooo lazy that they have to import shows that have well-produced, intelligent storylines. I’m sure there are thousands of screenwriters out there who have imaginative, thoughtful, and smart scripts that are just waiting to be discovered in Hollywood…but apparently they’re no tgetting hired –especially in television. It usually takes a premium cable channel like HBO (Deadwood, The Sopranos, The Wire, Rome) or Showtime (Dexter, Weeds) to present excellent programming. But I digress…

So SyFy produces their own version of Being Human. I’m peeved off and intrigued at the same time. First, the whole copying thing just got to me. And second, I was really interested on who they would select to play the role of the ghost. (Let’s be frank, I’m sure they don’t plan on putting to white male actors out of work in a remake, so I’m just worried about the role of Annie.)

The commercials had me a bit concerned, but I stuck it out and decided to give it a chance.

The U.S. version of Being Human is pretty good –but not as good as the U.K. version. (Please catch the U.K. version! They just started the 3rd Season!) It’s passable, though. So far, a lot of people like this show…I’m sure it’s because they’ve never seen the original.

One big gripe I have about this show. Who in the hell cast the role of the ghost?

I was worried about that role because I’m very aware of the trivial casting of Black women in any role in the United States. The role of the ghost is played by Meaghan Rath. Um, she’s Canadian. Let me just get that out of the way.

I’m sure the gorgeous Ms. Rath is a wonderful person and a wonderful actress; however, I’m protective of my show and the role of Annie (named Sally in the U.S. version). Granted I don’t have any stock or personal finances involved with Being Human (U.K.), but I still like to think that as a fan, I have some creative license over the remake of the show –as crazy as that sounds.

Get to the Point

I’ve already harped on the significance of the ghost being played by an obviously Black/bi-racial woman and not having her race as a central figure to her character, but come on.

I was holding out for a thread of hope that the role of Annie would be somewhat in tact and that the role would be a fantastic vehicle for an African American actress. Now, there’s no reason to request that SyFy make some sort of statement that Sally the ghost is Black (or some variation, thereof), but there does need to be some statement as to why they chose a Canadian actress who the average American audience would assume is Latina, Middle Eastern or “swarthy”… i.e., anything but obviously Black. Granted, I’ve got a good nose for finding out who’s Black (a hobby of mine), but the average person doesn’t know and they definitely don’t care. I mean, one less role given to an African American actress means nothing to many people who think it doesn’t matter, but then again, few of them can name three movies with a competent, intellectual, Black woman character.

Lenora Crichlow plays Annie in the U.K. version of "Being Human"

So my spidey senses are really tingling now because I need some sort of explanation from SyFy –like, a backstory, an acknowledgment that they changed the character on purpose, etc. I mean, for what reason did they feel the need to go with a woman of inexplicable racial background and downplay any obvious semblance of being Black ? (I’m talking about the character, not her.)

I don’t need a genealogical chart or a census form, but I do need some acknowledgment that they’ve stayed true to the intent and background of the character.

The other two characters are still obviously white, right?

In episode three (“Something to Watch Over Me”), we get a bit of a backstory on the mysterious ghost Sally. They show her headstone and her name is —Sally Malik? Now, I’m not arguing that she’s “not Black”. I don’t go into those territories because I understand identity, multi-racialism, etc., and I can probably name off everything she’s mixed with. What I’m saying is that to an American audience that is still struggling with racial expression, racial dialogue, and racial understanding, I found her role to be a poor choice in 2011. SyFy is not making some big statement other than going with the status quo.

I don’t know who they actually auditioned, but I can think of six African American actresses off the bat who could have played the role, namely: Raven Symone (That So Raven), Rutina Wesley (True Blood), Katerina Graham (Vampire Diaries), Meagan Good (Cold Case, The Unborn), Heather Hemmens (“Hellcats”) and Tia Mowry (The Game).

So, for whatever it’s worth, I say watch the original Being Human series on BBC and see if you feel the same way about the casting choices. And if you get anything out of this posting, understand that intelligent, meaty roles for African American women are few and far between and it’s up to us (who care) to let television stations know by asking some pertinent questions, do some critical thinking, getting stations to respond to your concerns, or just not watching it.

Mrs. Goundo’s Daughter to Air on PBS Feb. 9th

According to an announcement from Women Make Movies:

“Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater’s stirring film, MRS. GOUNDO’S DAUGHTER, will premiere nationally on AfroPop: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange, on PBS, February 9, in honor of the United Nation’s International Day of Zero Tolerance to end Female Genital Mutilation (February 6).

The film tells the story of one mother’s fight for political asylum in the United States in order to protect her daughter from the traditional practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) and the legal ramifications of doing so.”

  • Female genital mutilation (FGM) includes procedures that intentionally alter or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
  • The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women.
  • Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later, potential childbirth complications and newborn deaths.
  • An estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM.
  • It is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15 years.
  • In Africa an estimated 92 million girls from 10 years of age and above have undergone FGM.
  • FGM is internationally recognized as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

There are few who have addressed this issue publicly due to the social and cultural stigma attached to those still practicing FGM and those who feel pressure from their communities to have their daughters go through an often unsanitary and traumatic experience that plagues girls and women for the rest of their lives.

the United Nations Population Fund claims that, “Female genital mutilation, or cutting, predates Christianity and Islam – it is thought to have originated in the time of the pharaohs,” but there’s no concrete evidence of this. What is true is that FGM is a social practice –not a religious one– and it is practiced in primarily Muslim countries or in immigrant Muslim communities including  in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.

More about Female Genital Mutilation:

Brick City returns to the Sundance Channel January 30th

Only of the best series about the real struggles of a city trying to rebuild itself and its reputation, “Brick City” is one of the best “reality” shows on television. When asked to describe it, the only thing I can think of is a real-life version of “The Wire”. You see a city in disrepair as everyone from the police department, neighborhoods, ex-cons, gang members and the embattled Mayor of New Jersey Corey Booker, build miracles out of the impossible, and rebuild their lives after tragedies.

“Brick City” won a Peabody Award and was a 2010 Emmy nominee. Don’t miss it.

Oscars revert back to old ways

Not that I need validation, but guess what? CNN.com is asking the same questions about diversity and the Oscars. There were high hopes –well, sort of– when Hattie McDaniel won Best Supporting Actress for her role as “Mammie” in the big screen version of Gone with the Wind… then it took 62 years for a Black woman to get another Oscar®. Then there was a breath of fresh air as Mo’Nique won Best Supporting Actress for her role in the movie Precious, and Geoffrey Fletcher won for Best Adapted Screenplay. As the years between Oscar-wins for African Americans got shorter, there were many people in the film industry who assumed that would indicate that Black actors were now just being considered “actors” and not “Black actors” who are relegated to straight-to-video “urban” gangsta films.


Regardless of the slew of Blacks in front of and behind the camera at last year’s Academy Awards, apparently 2010 just couldn’t cut it. Even though there were some brilliant Black actresses in leading films (Rashida Jones, The Social Network and Yaya DaCosta, The Kids Are Alright) a sister (or a brother) just couldn’t get any recognition.

According to CNN.com:

This year there was a decided dearth of diversity in the Oscar nominations. There are no women or people of color among the director nominees, and the acting nominees are all white. Javier Bardem, who is up for best actor for his role in “Biutiful,’ is a Spaniard and therefore European.

So what does it take for Black actors and filmmakers to get any real recognition at the Oscars? I have no clue. And apparently neither does the Academy of Motion Pictures and Science.

Read the entire article at CNN.com.

Women Make Movies Funding Resources

The Production Assistance Program

The Women Make Movies Production Assistance Program was established in 1988 to develop and support women in independent production. The Program fulfills this mission by offering fiscal sponsorship to film and video projects and by providing independent filmmakers with valuable information and guidance through our semi-annual workshops. Together these programs reflect Women Make Movies commitment to outreach and development of both emerging and established women film and video makers.

New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) through WMM

The New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) awards grants up to $25,000 for artists who are residents of New York State in production on a Film, Media, New Technology, or Video project. Fiction, experimental, animation, and documentary projects are all eligible to apply. Because NYSCA cannot fund individual artists directly, all applications to the Individual Artists program must be submitted through a fiscal sponsor (that’s where WMM comes in). Previously funded artists cannot apply in consecutive years. Artists who have received previous support for a phase of production must complete that phase before re-applying.

About Women Make Movies

Established in 1972 to address the under representation and misrepresentation of women in the media industry, Women Make Movies is a multicultural, multiracial, non-profit media arts organization which facilitates the production, promotion, distribution and exhibition of independent films and videotapes by and about women. The organization provides services to both users and makers of film and video programs, with a special emphasis on supporting work by women of color. Women Make Movies facilitates the development of feminist media through an internationally recognized Distribution Service and a Production Assistance Program.

Just In! “Pariah” Cast Photos

Just in are exclusive photos from WireImages’ Portrait Gallery at the Sundance  Film Festival starring the cast of Pariah, a by director Dee Rees. There’s still time to catch them at the festival with screenings on January 26 and 28th, 2011! Find out more at Sundance 2011!


Press: Columbia/Legacy Honors the 50th Anniversary of Aretha Franklin’s Pop Recording Career With a Deluxe Box Set

The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin has had her share of heartache, celebration and obstacles, including her latest recovery from pancreatic cancer. She is quintessentially the personification of what “soul” would sound like manifested in a  For almost fifty years, Ms. Franklin has ruled what it means to sing “soulfully” and has been the prototype of talent wrapped in spirit and body. (Let’s not forget that she is an accomplished pianist and songwriter.)

The past week has had stories and rumors about the Queen’s biopic on the big screen. Actually, a biopic on Ms. Franklin is way overdue considering how Hollywood loved Ray Charles’ biopic, and the biopics of other male stars. This is the first biopic since Lady Sings the Blues that a biopic centering on a Black female singer has been –and, no, Cadillac Records doesn’t count, and Dreamgirls was fiction.

Ms. Franklin publicly voiced her support for Halle Berry to play her in the film. According to news reports, Ms. Berry was a bit reticent at the thought of playing the legendary Franklin. Some viewed Halle’s concerns as an insult of portraying Franklin as she has appeared to the public in the later part of career –i.e., in odd fashion choices and much larger than Ms. Berry; but then again, what woman doesn’t gain weight in her later years? Others in the industry have suggested Jennifer Hudson, who’s career seems to be gaining speed after her (ahem) weight loss via Weight Watchers. Still, others think that someone with the stellar career of Ms. Franklin deserves a star of Ms. Berry’s Oscar-winning magnitude.

Audiences are eagerly awaiting a Queen of Soul biopic, and let’s just hope they don’t mess it up since films centering on Black women are so few and far between.

The news of Ms. Franklin’s film is perfect timing for other career centered news, specifically, that Columbia is records is releasing a twelve (yes, twelve!) CD set starting with songs from the start of her career in 1960 to later releases.

The 50th anniversary of Aretha Franklin‘s arrival on the popular music scene is set for a major celebration in 2011. Signed to Columbia Records by the legendary John Hammond in the spring of 1960 (soon after her 18th birthday), Aretha released her debut album, Aretha (With The Ray Bryant Combo), on February 27, 1961.  Her coming of age at Columbia as a young artist in New York is one of the great stories in the annals of popular music, and set the stage for her ascendance as the Queen of Soul at Atlantic Records.

TAKE A LOOK: ARETHA FRANKLIN COMPLETE ON COLUMBIA marks the first time that Aretha’s entire Columbia output, including master takes, unissued performances, rare mono mixes and studio conversations, have been preserved in one deluxe 12-disc (11 CDs + DVD) box set.  The package is available for pre-order at www.arethafranklin.net in advance of its March 22, 2011, release at all physical and digital retail outlets through Columbia/Legacy, a division of SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT.  The suggested retail price for the box is $169.98.

Songs include:

  • Aretha (with the Ray Bryant Combo) (released February 27, 1961)
  • The Electrifying Aretha Franklin (1962)
  • The Tender, the Moving, the Swinging Aretha Franklin (1962)
  • Laughing On The Outside (1963)
  • Unforgettable – A Tribute To Dinah Washington (1964)
  • Runnin’ Out Of Fools (1965)
  • Yeah!!! In Person With Her Quartet (in two sequences: the original 1965 album recorded live in the studio with overdubbed applause, followed by a new previously unreleased version without the overdubbed ambience)
  • Tiny Sparrow: The Bobby Scott Sessions (1963)
  • Take A Look: The Clyde Otis Sessions (1964)
  • A Bit of Soul (the full album as it was compiled in 1965, but never released)
  • The Queen In Waiting (includes Aretha’s last seven Columbia recordings which were produced by Bob Johnston, who was noted for his work during this time with Bob Dylan; the disk also features new recordings of Aretha’s songs that Columbia “sweetened” after she left the label)
  • …and more!

Find out more at Aretha Franklin.net

Bennie Pearl Brown memorial fund supports black women in film, “Glory Days” project

According to InsightNews.com, Bennie Pearl Brown, age 85, of Minneapolis., passed away January 14, 2011, and the family requests donations be made in support of “Glory Days: A Tradition of Achievement,” a documentary film history of Black Women in development for public television. Tax deductible contributions made payable to “Glory Days the Film” with “Bennie Pearl Brown Legacy Fund” on the memo line can be sent to: “Honor Thy Mother” Bennie Pearl Brown Legacy Fund, c/o New York Women in Film & Television, 6 East 39th St, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10016. For information on the film, email GloryDays@nullJanusAdams.com.

for questions on the fund, email Irma McClaurin: mcclaurinsolutions@nullgmail.com. You may also contribute to the Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, 2600 E. 38th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55406 in memory of Bennie Pearl Brown.

You can read more at InsightNews.com

Call for Performers/Artists/Poets: Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen


(Deadline May be Extended)

Are you a FEMALE MC with a slick flow, crazy style, and great stage presence? Or are you a FEMALE VISUAL ARTIST, SPOKEN WORD POET, or DANCER?

Are you also politically conscious and inspire others through your work?

If so please apply for Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen, Vol. 4: Let’s Get Active!

We are looking for conscious female rappers/artists/dancers/poets, etc… Who are interested in performing on Saturday March 5th, 2011 at Hostos Community College in the Bronx for Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen, Vol. 4: Let’s Get Active!

If interested please apply by clicking the link for “Group Application 2011 ” or “ Single Artist Application 2011 ” under the “ Vol. 4: 2011 ” tab on our website! (Or you can just click the highlighted links)

**LAST DAY TO APPLY IS JANUARY 18TH, 2011** (Deadline May be Extended)



Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen, Vol. 4: Let’s Get Active!

Date: Saturday March 5th, 2011

Time: 2-5pm

This event is FREE and open to all ages.

Location: Hostos Community College – Main Theater- 450 Grand Concourse, Bronx, New York

(You can take the 2,4,5 to 149th Grand Concourse or buses: BX1, BX19)

Contact Info: Kathleen Adams and Lah Tere



Description of Event:

Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen Volume 4, “Let’s Get Active!”will be honoring International Women’s Month on Saturday, March 5th, 2011 at Hostos Community College in the South Bronx. The South Bronx was just ranked the UNHEALTHIEST of New York’s 62 counties. This community is plagued with ridiculous amounts of poverty, unemployment, diabetes, hunger, obesity, dirty bodegas, HIV/AIDS, reproductive injustice, and lacks access to good fruits and vegetables, schoolyards, playgrounds and gym classes in schools. This year we will be addressing some of these health disparities that affect women of color by using hip hop to initiate dialogue, inspire action in supporting healthier nutrition and physical activity, and ultimately increasing community involvement among women and their families.

Pariah Selected for 2011 Sundance

In June 2009, the International Black Women’s Film Festival told you about the upcoming film Pariah by director Dee Rees, and now  she’s headed to Sundance for 2011!

You can help Dee to get to Sundance through Kickstarter, and pledge as little ($1) or as most as you want. Go to Kickstarter to pledge now: http://kck.st/h0sy4t .

Can’t donate right now? Then Demand-It for your city! Go to: http://www.pariahthemovie.com/demand-it/

If you can catch Pariah at Sundance in Park City, Utah, there are still tickets available for the January 28 screening at the Eccles  Theater. Let’s support and help this sister to be seen in wider distribution!

About Pariah the movie:

Pariah is a feature film about a Brooklyn teenager who juggles conflicting identities and risks friendship, heartbreak, and family in a desperate search for sexual expression. The film was shot on location in December 2009 over 19 days in Brooklyn, NY. It is a classic coming of age story told from a perspective never seen before on the big screen. To learn more, please visit www.pariahthemovie.com

Press: An Intimate Look at Trailblazers in New and Encore Programming Before and During Black History Month 2011

This season PBS celebrates True Originals — innovators, artists, scientists, political leaders and ordinary citizens who dared to advance, challenge, improve, invent and explore. This February is no exception.

Throughout the year, PBS invites viewers to explore African Americans’ vast contributions to society. In honor and celebration of Black History Month, February 2011, PBS presents new and encore programs, beginning in January and continuing throughout the spring season.

Thousands of hours of PBS programming are available on the PBS Video Portal. In mid-January, the Video Portal will release a special collection for Black History Month 2011, featuring new and encore programming.

PBS Teachers offers the Unsung Heroes in African American History and Civil Rights Movement in American Literature Activity Packs for educators to use in the classroom or to post on their classroom, school or favorite social networking Web sites. The activity packs are designed for multiple grade levels and contain links to African-American history-themed education resources and activities from PBS.



Tuesdays, January 18-February 8, 2011, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET

Where would TV be without “Star Trek,” “Columbo,” “Romper Room” or “Gunsmoke”? The series returns for a look at the inception of four popular genres: science fiction, crime dramas, local kids’ TV and westerns, including the contributions of Bill Cosby, Nichelle Nichols and others. Nichols appeared on TAVIS SMILEY on 1/11/11 to discuss her early career in television, including how Dr. Martin Luther King encouraged her to stay on “Star Trek” in what he described as the “first non-stereotypical role” on television for an African American.

NOVA scienceNOW

Wednesdays, January 19-February 23, 2011, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET

Leading into NOVA, each episode of the upcoming season of NOVA scienceNOW hosted by Neil DeGrasse Tyson explores one of six “big” science questions: “Can We Make It to Mars?”; “Can We Live Forever?”; “How Does the Brain Work?”; “How Smart are Animals?”; “Where did I Come From?”; and “What’s the Next Big Thing?”


Tuesday, February 15, 2011, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET

The story of Barbara Smith Conrad, a gifted music student who found herself at the epicenter of racial controversy but struggled against the odds to reach the heights of international opera.


March 2011 ( check local listings )

Chicago is truly a tale of two cities. There is the legendary Chicago that emerged from hardship and misfortune on the prairie to attain world-class status. There is also a less known, but remarkable aspect of Chicago’s history — the essential contributions of African Americans to the city’s vitality. This film reveals the lives of the celebrated and the unsung — from the establishment of the first black community in the 1840s by free men of color and enslaved Africans seeking freedom, to the election of the nation’s first black president, Chicago’s own Barack Obama.

INDEPENDENT LENS “Pushing the Elephant”

Tuesday, March 29, 2011, 10:00-11:30 p.m. ET

When civil war came to Rose Mapendo’s Congolese village, she was separated from her five-year-old daughter, Nangabire. More than a decade later, mother and daughter are reunited in the U.S.


Tuesdays, April 19-May 10, 2011, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET

Travel with Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. across Latin America to explore what happens when African and Hispanic worlds meet. Four-part series.


Monday, May 9, 2011, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET

SOUNDTRACK FOR A REVOLUTION tells the story of the American civil rights movement through its powerful music—the freedom songs protesters sang on picket lines, in mass meetings, in paddy wagons, and in jail cells as they fought for justice and equality. The music enabled African Americans to sing words they could not say, and it was crucial in helping protesters as they faced down brutal aggression with dignity and non-violence.  The infectious energy of the songs swept people up and empowered them to fight for their rights. Directed by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman (Nanking), and executive produced by Danny Glover, Soundtrack for a Revolution is a vibrant blend of heart-wrenching interviews, dramatic images, and thrilling contemporary performances by top artists, including John Legend, Joss Stone, Wyclef Jean, and The Roots—a film of significance, energy, and power.


Monday, May 16, 2011, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET

Acclaimed filmmaker Stanley Nelson’s powerful and inspirational story of the more than 400 black and white men and women who, using non-violent tactics, risked their lives to challenge segregated travel facilities in the South in 1961.



Monday, January 24, 2011, 10:30-11:00 p.m. ET

Follows six survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to reveal successes and setbacks as the Louisiana coastline and culture continue to give way to the gulf and face disastrous new threats. Emmy-winning and Academy Award-nominated actress Patricia Clarkson, a native of New Orleans, narrates.

INDEPENDENT LENS “Adjust Your Color: The Truth of Petey Greene”

Tuesday, February 15, 2011, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET

America’s original shock-jock, Petey Greene, became a leading activist during some of the most tumultuous years in recent history.

AUSTIN CITY LIMITS “Allen Toussaint”

Saturday, February 26, 2011, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET ( check local listings )

Legendary New Orleans songwriter Allen Toussaint hits the ACL stage with songs from his latest LP, The Bright Mississippi, and classic hits like “Southern Nights.”


February 2011 ( check local listings )

Gwen Ifill interviews Motown legend Smokey Robinson, giving viewers an insider’s look at the life and career of the Motown legend. The program features former Motown executive and film producer Suzanne de Passe as mistress of ceremonies, with musical tributes from Grammy-nominated artists such as Teena Marie, Howard Hewett and MusiqSoulchild.


February 2011 ( check local listings )

Arguably the oldest black neighborhood in America and the birthplace of jazz, Faubourg Treme was home to the largest community of free black people in the Deep South during slavery and a hotbed of political ferment. Lolis Eric Elie, a New Orleans newspaperman, tours this storied neighborhood.

INDEPENDENT LENS “Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness”

February 2011 ( check local listings )

Examines the forgotten legacy of Melville Herskovits, a controversial Jewish anthropologist, whose writings in the ’40s and ’50s challenged widely held assumptions about race and culture. Maggie Gyllenhaal hosts.


February 2011( check local listings )

This is the story of three counties that forcefully banished African-American families from their towns 100 years ago — and the descendants who return to learn a shocking history. Co-production of ITVS in association with NBPC. By Marco Williams.

POV “Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North”

February 2011( check local listings )

Descendants of the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history uncover the vast extent of northern complicity in slavery.


February 2011 ( check local listings )

At the end of the American Revolution, slaves were offered freedom in return for service to the British. This is the story of their resettlement, first in Nova Scotia, then Sierra Leone, where dreams of a haven came to a tragic end.

AUSTIN CITY LIMITS “Bettye LaVette/Pinetop Perkins”

Saturday, March 12, 2011, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET ( check local listings )

R&B veteran Bettye LaVette sings songs from her critically lauded album The Scene of the Crime, followed by legendary pianist Pinetop Perkins and his catalog of blues classics.

INDEPENDENT LENS “Iron Ladies of Liberia”

March 2011 ( check local listings )

This intimate documentary goes behind-the-scenes with Africa’s first freely elected female head of state, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia.


Sunday-Thursday, April 3-7, 2011, 8:00-10:30  p.m. ET

On the 150th anniversary of the beginning of America’s Civil War, PBS will re-broadcast Ken Burns’ entire landmark 1990 series. Burns’ epic documentary brings to life America’s most destructive — and defining — conflict. THE CIVIL WAR is the saga of celebrated generals and ordinary soldiers, a heroic and transcendent president and a country that had to divide itself in two in order to become one. Voices for the series include Sam Waterston, Jason Robards, Julie Harris, Jeremy Irons, Morgan Freeman, Paul Roebling, Garrison Keillor, Kurt Vonnegut, Arthur Miller and Studs Terkel. Historian David McCullough narrates.



Monday-Friday, 11:00-11:30 p.m. ET ( check local listings )

Tavis Smiley hosts this program, featuring interviews with newsmakers, politicians, celebrities and everyday people. See 1/11/11 interview with pioneering African American actress Nichelle Nichols (PIONEERS OF TELEVISION).

Other series that regularly cover topics and profile guests and performers of interest to African Americans include FRONTLINE, GREAT PERFORMANCES, PBS NEWSHOUR, NEED TO KNOW, POV and WASHINGTON WEEK WITH GWEN IFILL, among many others.

Find more information and high-resolution images from these programs on PBS PressRoom at http://pressroom.pbs.org/Programs/Black-History-Month-2011.aspx.

Press: American Idol Winner Takes “Because of You Interactive Contest” Winner on Shopping Spree

Fashion retailer Dots and Grammy®-nominated singer Jordin Sparks fulfilled a dream yesterday for Fabiola Apollon, winner of Dots “Because Of You” Interactive Contest in partnership with Sparks. In collaboration with AuditionBooth.com, the contest encouraged entrants to share a personal story about something they were inspired to accomplish by someone in their life. In honor of her fan-dedicated perfume launched exclusively at Dots this past fall, the “Because of You” contest promised a $500 shopping spree with Sparks at a Dots flagship store.

After seeing the Dots “Because of You” contest on AuditionBooth, Apollon was encouraged to share how her life was changed by the Lap Band surgery. With the support of her family and friends, Apollon has lost 60+ pounds and plans to lose even more. Apollon strives to serve as an example to others and provide hope for her peers who also struggle with weight issues.

“I’m excited that we were able to offer this contest with Dots through Audition Booth because it enabled my fans, regardless of their location, to celebrate someone who made a difference in their lives,” said youngest ever American Idol winner and Broadway star, Jordin Sparks.

Sparks and Apollon spent the afternoon on January 13th shopping for the latest trends of the season at Dots’ store in Addison, TX.

“Personally, I feel inspired to do more and make the most of every opportunity because of the support I have from the people around me. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a little encouragement from influential people in your life!” said Apollon of the journey that she shared in her entry. “And I thank Dots and Jordin Sparks both for this amazing experience!” she added.

Faces to See in 2011

Television has a horribly low number of Black women and this season is no different. Even with one of the highest viewed programs written by a Black woman (Shonda Rhimes for Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice), Black actresses can’t seem to get a break.

The bright side is that there are some faces that are representing Black women in television –now that Queen Oprah is switching gears.

Here are our picks to watch in 2011 (our tweaked list from the Daily Dish):