Tuesday, November 1, 2016

CEILING BREAKING BLACK DIRECTORS


It is no accident that you are seeing more and more black women represented in movies, television, and plays. This relatively new phenomenon is almost entirely due to black women from Julie Dash to Ava DuVernay, many of them black feminists, deciding to move behind the camera and create their own visions.


Not only have they been giving us black movies with black women in them (with significant speaking roles), they've also been giving us black women's perspectives on current events and black history, both.  

These women have been reducing black women's e-racesure one story at a time. And some directors that have come along lately aren't pretending to be colorblind to colorism, which is major step in the right direction for the black community.

The generation of black girls growing up now are going to see themselves being themselves.  The generation of black girls growing up now will have had a black first lady too. Their confidence and power is going to be amazing in the real world.

The images washing over us everyday have an effect. Black girl magic can only increase thanks to the directors in bathed in gold light on this black director tree.

I, for one, can't wait to see what comes next for black female directors and content makers. I can't wait to see black girls and black women starring in coming of age stories, fantasy, and sci-fi movies.

Who knows? I might even get to see Octavia Butler's book Kindred made into a movie or a mini-series one day    







Feeling Rebloggy



THE DIRECTORS
1. JULIE DASH 

Dash’s first feature —
 Daughters of the Dust (1991) — was the first film by an African American woman to receive a general theatrical release in the United States; the Library of Congress named it to the National Film Registry in 2004. Dash returned to the film’s characters and their Gullah milieu in her novel of the same title, published in 1999.


Read More
https://www.cinema.ucla.edu/la-rebellion/julie-dash




If you have not seen Ms. Dash's groundbreaking film (or you would like to see it again), it has received a 25th-anniversary restoration that will open theatrically on November 18th. Watch the trailer athttps://youtu.be/zdMxR2M_ddM.
Interesting Fact: Themes from "Daughters" were heavily featured in Beyoncé's "Lemonade," released earlier this year.
~BROWN GIRL COLLECTIVE  
Source: https://www.facebook.com/BrownGirlCollective/photos/a.193731154592.121720.110155684592/10154575383814593/?type=3&theater 

2. NEEMA BARNETTE

Neema
Barnette is an American film director, and the first African-American female sitcom director.   Barnette was the first African-American woman to get a three-picture deal with Sony. [She did one of her first television movies in 1993]

Her work includes a mixture of film and television. She has directed television programmes as such as The Cosby Show, A Different World, Gilmore Girls, 7th Heaven, Diagnosis Murder, China Beach to name a few.

She has won numerous awards, honours, and nominations, among them an Emmy Award for her after school special To Be a Man, two NAACP Image Awards, and a Sundance Film Festival Award for her film Civil Brand. She owns her own production company Hope Entertainment and is also a professor of film at the UCLA School of Film & Television.  [She recently directed an episode of "Queen Sugar" for Ava DuVernay and Oprah]
Women prisoners strike up a friendship with a young law student (Mos Def) who works as a part-time prison guard. Together they discover that a corporation funds and is profitting from the plantation-like work environment they are forced to work under. In a botched attempt to organize a protest against their "slave labor", the women take over the prison - A rare glimpse of the effects of the prison industrial complex on female inmates.


Read More
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0326806/plotsummary?ref_=tt_ov_pl

3. EUZHAN PALCY
With
 A Dry White Season in 1989, Euzhan Palcy became the first black woman to direct a Hollywood studio film. She has been fighting the system ever since, and leading the way for a new generation of black female directors....

 Palcy’s journey to Hollywood from the French-Caribbean island of Martinique seems like a fairy tale, even to her. There were no filmmakers in Martinique, but at a very early age "I developed an attraction for films and I knew when I was 10 or 11 that I wanted to make movies," she says. "Sometimes I would tell people and they wouldn’t understand that. They all thought that I was talking about being an actress. I said, ’No, no, no.’"

Read More


4.KASI LEMMONS


Kasi Lemmons' feature screenwriting and directorial debut, Eve's Bayou, was the highest-grossing independent film of 1997. The film went on to win the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature and receive seven NAACP Image Award nominations, including Best Picture. Eve's Bayou starred Samuel L. Jackson, Lynn Whitfield, Debbi Morgan, and Vondie Curtis Hall; and was an early showcase for young actors Meagan Good and Jurnee Smollett.
Ms. Lemmons was also honored with a newly created award from the National Board of Review, for Outstanding Directorial Debut. Among the other honors for her and the film was the Director's Achievement Award at the Nortel Palm Springs Film Festival.
Her next film, The Caveman's Valentine, starring Samuel L. Jackson, opened the Sundance Film Festival in 2001. The following winter, Ms. Lemmons directed the moving Salute to Sidney Poitier that was broadcast on the Oscars telecast during which Mr. Poitier received an honorary Academy Award.

[ Talk To Me about Washington D.C. radio personality Ralph "Petey" Greene, is another one of her movies]
(You may remember her face from her acting days. She was in Silence of the Lambs as Clarice Starling's roommate.) 

Read More

5. MAYA ANGELOU
Maya Angelou was a celebrated author and poet, and also a filmmaker: Angelou,who died on May 28 at the age of 86, made the 1998 film “Down in the Delta,”which was released by Miramax on Dec. 25 of that year. It was the only feature film she ever directed.
Based on an original script by Myron Goble, “Down in the Delta” focused on Loretta (Alfre Woodard), a struggling single parent who gets sent to Mississippi by her mother (Mary Alice) to clean up her life. There, Loretta meets a coterie of family and friends. Wesley Snipes and Loretta Divine co-starred.
* * * * *
[It got decent reviews. I think it's a good family movie with a nice little black history hook up at the end.]

Read More

6. GINA PRINCE-BYTHEWOOD
Gina's credits include Love & Basketball, The Secret Life Of Bees, and Beyond the Lights. But what's most interesting about Gina is what's she's up to now

SHOT'S FIRED mini-series with Sanaa Lathan

The 10-hour event series is an explosive look at the criminal justice system.

When an African American police officer kills an unarmed white college student, a small town in North Carolina is turned upside-down. Before the town has a chance to grapple with this tragedy, the neglected murder of an African American teen is brought to light, re-opening wounds that threaten to tear the town apart. Leading the Department of Justice’s inquiry into these shootings is seasoned investigator Ashe Akino (Sanaa Lathan) and a young Special Prosecutor, Preston Terry (Stephan James), both of whom are African American.

As they start to pull back the layers of both cases, they suspect a cover-up that may involve some of the state’s most powerful people, including fiercely political North Carolina Governor Patricia Eamons (Helen Hunt). She’s in a tough re-election fight, and the recent shootings in her state are making it even tougher. Meanwhile, real estate mogul and owner of a privatized prison Arlen Cox (Richard Dreyfuss), is pulled into the case, as LT. Eric Breeland (Stephen Moyer), a seasoned veteran in the town’s Sheriff’s Department, gets caught in the middle of the investigation.


Read More


7.   DARNELL MARTIN 


Movies: I Like It Like That,  Their Eyes Were Watching God, Cadillac Records
"Purportedly the first African-American woman to make a major studio movie (with Columbia Pictures), directing, writing and co-producing "I Like It Like That" (1994). Martin began her career as 2nd assistant camera on Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing" (1989), after a meeting with Lee's director of photography Ernest Dickerson."

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/celebrity/darnell_martin/



INTERVIEW: MOM ALWAYS SAID DON'T TAKE THE FIRST 2 MILLION 

All the while, she was writing the script, then titled "Blackout," that would become "I Like It Like That." She sent it around to studios in 1992, a time when audiences were turning out for films by and about inner-city youths. New Line Cinema offered to back the movie for $2 million, meaning it would have to be shot in seven weeks.

...Martin and her story take on a slightly practiced "I'll never go hungry again" fervor: "I was about to be evicted, and I was eating spaghetti and oil for dinner. But I thought, 'If I shot that film in seven weeks, it wouldn't be a good movie.' So I passed on the deal. That's how my mom raised me." Columbia Pictures eventually came through with $5.5 million for nine weeks of shooting.

8.  TINA MABRY
Tina Mabry’s feature film debut, "Mississippi Damned" – a 2009 Slamdance Film Festival selection – has been released by Ava DuVernay and Company's AFFRM + Array Releasing.
Streaming subscribers of the popular online platform [Netflix] can now screen the acclaimed drama there.
The award-winning stark drama features an ensemble cast, and follows the dreams and disappointments of 3 African American children in poor rural Mississippi. Struggling to overcome the cyclical violence and poverty at home, each hopes for a brighter future: Leigh with her flirtatious high school girlfriend; Sammy, who has a college basketball scholarship; and Kari, the youngest, considering a career as a pianist. However, each soon learns that they will have to confront their family’s past if they are to overcome what constrains them, "damned," to their Mississippi stead.

Tina Mabry is currently working with Ava DuVernay on her television show Queen Sugar






9) AMMA ASSANTE 
The release of Belle in 2014 marked Amma’s second feature film. She began developing the project after producer Damian Jones sent her a postcard print of a portrait featuring Dido Elizabeth Belle and her cousin Elizabeth Murray. The film tells the story of Belle’s upbringing by her Great Uncle, Lord Mansfield, at Kenwood House in Hampstead. Contracted and commissioned to write and direct the 18th century period drama by Jones through the BFI, four years of writing and research ensued, eventually earning the movie a green light.

Belle – distributed by Icon Films in Australia and Fox Searchlight in the U.S, U.K and rest of the world – opened to phenomenal success across the worldwide, releasing first in the U.S and taking a higher per-screen average than Spiderman 2 in the opening weekend. The film was championed by Oprah Winfrey – who threw a garden party at her home for Amma and the cast, airing across 4 nights on Entertainment Tonight. Meanwhile in the UK, Prince hosted the Belle premiere after-party, in celebration of the film, and performed a 90-minute intimate set for the film’s cast and crew. The movie received widespread acclaim, making Amma one of CNN’s Leading Women of 2014, and earning her nominations for various awards worldwide, including nods at the National Film Awards, UK, alongside NAACP 2014 awards in the U.S In addition, Amma was selected and awarded as an honouree along side Barbara Walters, Katie Couric and Ursula Burns, at Gloria Steinem’s, Jane Fonder’s and Robin Morgan’s, 2014 Women’s Media Center Awards in New York.


10) ANGELA BASSETT

WHITNEY was Angela Bassett's directorial debut. She's done some television since (American Horror Story) And it looks like she's going to direct an episode of Scandal for Shonda Rhimes. But her movie about Whitney Houston was first
Angela Bassett is no stranger when it comes to the portrayal of iconic females on screen. She was nominated for an Academy Award and won a Golden Globe for her performance as Tina Turner in 1993's What's Love Got to Do With It? She was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for playing Rosa Parks in 2002's The Rosa Parks Story. And last but not least she was nominated for both a BET and Image Award for her turn as Coretta Scott King in Betty and Coretta in 2013.
So when the producers of Lifetime's upcoming Whitney movie, premiering Jan. 17th, at 8 p.m. ET/PT, asked Bassett for a recommendation for a director for their biopic, Bassett, who had not previously helmed a movie, asked, "Why not me?" 
"There's a caring to telling a story, to nurture a story," says the American Horror Story star, who worked with Whitney Houston on 1995's Waiting to Exhale and, as a result, felt a responsibility to make the best movie possible.

Read More:
http://www.biography.com/news/whitney-houston-lifetime-biopic


11) DEE REES


Dee Rees really blew our minds in the best way with her 2011 feature film Pariah, a coming of age film about a young, black queer woman and her struggles and triumphs. Her latest film about the life and loves of Bessie Smith, starring Queen Latifah, recently aired on HBO to much praise. The writer/director has a lot to say and we want to listen to every bit. Dee recently picked up an Emmy nomination for her work on Bessie, and the film was also nominated for Best Television Movie. With this much momentum, we think Dee Rees is indeed unstoppable and we can’t wait to see her new project with Shonda Rhimes

Read more at http://www.afterellen.com/movies/444787-6-unstoppable-women-lgbt-film#xKZ2wqRV6hRrKmwk.99


Pariah
 was honored with the Festival’s U.S. Dramatic Competition “Excellence in Cinematography” Award (Bradford Young) and picked up by Focus Features. The film was honored with many awards including the

**John Cassavetes Award** at the Independent Spirit Awards (2011),

**The Gotham Award** for “Best Breakthrough Director” (2011),

 “Outstanding Film –Limited Release” at the GLAAD Media Award (2012), and

7 NAACP Image Award nominations including
 “Outstanding Motion Picture”,
 “Outstanding Directing”, and
 “Outstanding Writing” with the win for
 “Outstanding Independent Motion Picture”.

.
Before embarking on the production of the full feature film, Dee initially took the first act of the Pariah script and directed it as a short film for her graduate thesis film project at NYU [where she was mentored by Spike Lee]

Rees also did a documentary about her grandmother returning to heer community after the devastating Liberian civil war that she barely escaped from a decade prior.  [The play Danai Guirira's wrote, starring Lupita Nyongo, covers what happened to women during this war in her all black female crew-ed broadway play "Eclipsed"]

In 2015, Rees' film Bessie premiered on HBO, and starred Queen Latifah as the iconic singer, Bessie Smith. The film was well received by critics.[7] It won four Primetime Emmy Awards, including the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Television Movie. In addition, Rees was nominated for writing and directing the film.


Dee is also partnering with producer Shonda Rhimes on an adaption of Isabel Wilkerson's "The Warmth of Other Suns" for FX.



* * * * *
When I decided to call this list of directors that puts out positive black female content a "black directors list"  I decided I had to put one person that's not the same as me, a heterosexual black female, on the list for the sake of diversity, same as black men do when they create their lists about movies and directors. 

So, I looked at male directors too
 

I considered Spike Lee first though I knew this was unlikely due to Chiraq alone --you know that film where black women close their legs and stop black-male-ON-black-male crime.
When I was researching I found a lot of light women and a heck of a lot more white women getting top billing (and speaking roles) in Lee's films than I expected. This was in addition to the sexist mindset reflected in his films --the mindset that says women are good for nothing but mothering and sexing up men in a film. So he didn't make the list
Taken all together I'd guess Spike Lee's films are mostly bad for black girls. There are about a good four to a half dozen I'd be willing to show black girls. But that's it. I think. It's his pattern of not valuing black women in a healthy way that's a problem more than any individual movie --- if I block Chiraq from my mind altogether. 
However, I was quite glad to see that he, at least, mentored Dee Rees and also gave money and produced a couple of things for black women film makers that wound up  producing positive black images for black women and black girls in the audience -- and Dee can't even pass a paper bag test. WOW!

I also considered F. Gary Gray for making "Set It Off" which black women enjoyed and put black actresses faces out there and proved black women can carry a feature film.  But the fact that he directed "Straight Outta Compton" cancelled that contribution to the images of black women about three or four times over. 


Ultimately, I added Tyler Perry like I assumed I would.

12) TYLER PERRY
He is problematic as h*ll with all the stereotypes. Yeah, I know.

BUT if you skip over all the Madea movies you can tell fairly easily, despite all the crap, that Tyler Perry actually LIKES black women. The black women in his movies get to be something other than mothers and sex toys and they can't pass a paperbag test in the dark.  That puts him above 50% of the black male directors churning out black female images all by itself. The other 48% of black male directors just don't put any significant black female roles in their films at all.   


Frankly, there have been films I've seen by black male directors where I was mad when I went into the theater that there were no black women in the movie I was about to see then glad that the degrading role went to a white or light woman instead. (Black women don't need any more negative images being passed around for others amusement at this point.)

So Tyler Perry got to be on the list despite his being problematic due to Madea. He also gets big props for giving work to black actresses I hadn't seen for a minute or two. 


ONE DAY there will be a black male director that's a lot smarter about all stereotypes, centers 50% of his stories on black women (that are not part of a couple - don't count), where the women actually talk about something that doesn't have anything to do with men, where only 10% of the women in his films can pass a paper bag test in the dark, where she ain't a mommy, mammy, or flat on her back for half the movie. One day.

Right now, we got Tyler Perry for diversity in our black director list




I don't think the Madea character was in any of these
Maybe in the one with Idris Elba?





Actually, I'm lying. Tyler Perry made this list because Daddy's Little Girls marks the first time I ever saw IDRIS ELBA. I think I gasped out loud when I first saw him come on the screen. 

I'll forgive a lot for that.



13) AVA DuVERNAY


Ava DuVernay is kicking ass and taking names in case you haven't noticed.   




At the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, she won the Best Director Prize for her feature film Middle of Nowhere.

She's the first black female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award (Selma)


Yes, she did a few feature films before the Oscar nominated "Selma" And, I suggest you take a little time to see her talent building in Middle Of Nowhere (about how a black woman's life stop when the man she loves is in jail) and I Will Follow (A woman gets to say goodbye to a woman that shaped her life. Sounds autobiographical)

A very short mini-project called The Door  (with Gabrielle Union) is below.  


13th is new and on Netflix. 13th is a Black History Documentary that you should not miss


QUEEN SUGAR -  DuVernay got a little practice working in television by directing an episode or two of "Scandal" for fellow black feminist Shonda Rhimes then went on to create "Queen Sugar" with Oprah. Queen Sugar, starring Rutina Wesley, centers on the three adult children of a black family, two sisters and a brother, that take over the farm after their father dies.  It focuses on race, gender, and class through the eyes of black women and black men, both. And it's one of the bravest things I've ever seen on television for black folk. Ever.  


* * * * *THE DOOR (Gabrielle Union in #5 Women's Tales)
No speaking. Action takes place to music. 






ON A SIDE NOTE: Suzanne de Passe has been a ceiling breaker for black women in  Hollywood too. "In 1972 de Passe received her historic nomination for “Lady Sings The Blues” starring Diana Ross as Billie Holiday. de Passe is one of three other black writers to be nominated the others are Spike Lee for 1989’s “Do The Right Thing” and John Singleton for 1991’s “Boyz N The Hood.”