by Joneka Percentie
SPARK’s ongoing Black Women Create project highlights Black women working to create complex characters and fighting limited representation in the film and television industries through writing, directing, and producing. That’s why I was so excited to come across this tumblr called Black Women Directors, which has the same mission.
Black Women Directors acts as a directory for feature and short films and webseries created by Black women. There are over thirty posts on the blog so far with no hint at stopping. Black Women Directors was created by Danielle A. Scruggs, a photographer and cultural producer, as an online resource dedicated to highlighting and celebrating the work of self identifies women filmmakers of African descent across the diaspora. Here are some great projects BWD highlighted from this past year alone:
Cecile Emeke, Strolling
Synopsis: “‘Strolling’ is a short documentary film series created by Cecile Emeke where we take a stroll with people in various cities and countries around the world. The web series works to connect stories of Black experiences scattered across the African diaspora.”
In addition to Strolling, Emeke has been making waves with Flâner, the French version of the webseries (pictured above), and Ackee and Saltfish, a short film turned webseries. Emeke emphasizes the importance of highlighting the Black British experience through directing and writing.
Christine Swanson, For the Love of Ruth
For the Love of Ruth aired on TV One in May and featured performances by Denise Boutte and Loretta Divine. Christine Swanson directed the film and is also the owner of independent motion picture production company Faith Filmworks. Some of Swanson’s other projects include Woman Thou Art Loosed, All About Us, and To Hell and Back.
Akousa Adoma Owusu, Black Sunshine
Synopsis: “Black Sunshine tells the story of hairdresser, ROSEMARY KONADU, and her 12-year-old albino daughter, COCO. Rosemary longs to escape her frustrating African reality. Black Sunshine examines albino Africans as tropes for cross-cultural identity while creatively engaging in representations of beauty and unbalanced power relations in the intricacies of everyday life.”
Akosua Adoma Owusu was one of four selected for the World Cinema Fund, a project by the German Federal Cultural Foundation, the Berlin International Film Festival, and the Goethe-Institut. Owusu received 40,000 euros, over 44,000 US Dollars for production funding. Owusu’s other projects include Split Ends, I Feel Wonderful, Revealing Roots, and Me Broni Ba (My White Baby).
Lyric R Cabral, (T)ERROR
Synopsis: “Shot over the course of two years and with unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to a counterterrorism sting, (T)ERROR feels like a political spy novel set in your own hometown. A faceless character throughout, the FBI is an omnipresent force, pushing hard for results as ***** slowly closes in on his target. As secrets emerge from his past, ***** is caught between the consequences of his double life and mounting pressure from his handlers.”
Lyric Cabral is a photojournalist, cinematographer, and filmmaker whose debut project with David Fellow Sutcliff earned the US Documentary Special Jury Award: Break Out First Feature at Sundance. “I came to realize that a photo essay has narrative limitations,” she told Filmmaker Magazine, “and cannot reveal the nuances and complexities of the stories that I am drawn to tell. I thus embraced observational filmmaking as a means of becoming a better journalist, in order to more truthfully bear witness to the realities of my subjects and to tell a more complete story.”
Tiona McClodden, KILO | Iba se 99.
Synopsis: “Iba se 99. takes inspiration from an excerpt of a report produced by the Women’s Bureau division of the United States Department of Labor titled Negro Women War Workers, published in 1945. The film is also an exploration of the relationship between the US Navy Flag signal Kilo which has the assigned message of “I wish to communicate with you”, the first 12 Black women allowed to work on the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1942, and the Orisha Ochosi.”
“I’m interested in Blackness and nostalgia; and how the past, present, and future can intersect visually and thematically within time based work. I’m invested in exploring intersubjectivities within Black communities as a tool for creating insider perspectives within film, time based works, and objects,” McClodden said on her website. Some of McClodden’s other projects include THE CHILLS and roots.|&| rigor.
Dee Rees, Bessie
Synopsis: Bessie details the life of the iconic 1920’s blues singer Bessie Smith.
“I wanted to show Bessie almost as a liberator who sang around the countryside, singing for her folks. She’s coming to represent freedom, she’s coming to represent sexual freedom for all these people.” said Dee Rees in an interview with Indiewire. Bessie earned a Critics Choice Award for Best Movie Made for Television with performances from Queen Latifah and Mo’Nique.
Marquette Jones, Forgiving Chris Brown
Synopsis: “Forgiving Chris Brown is a dark comedy short that follows the follies of ‘Rihanna,’ ‘Halle’ and ‘Tina.’ These stylish girlfriends hope to heal their battered hearts through the old-fashioned way – Revenge. The emotional baggage they carry ties them together and makes for some unorthodox fun.”
Marquette Jones is an award-winning director, writer, and producer who studied at New York University. Some of Jones’ other projects include Round on Both Sides, Streets to Suites, and Jackie.
Black Women Directors is directly in line with what Black Women Create aims to accomplish: highlighting the projects and voices of Black women in order to introduce new and diverse talent in an industry that has so often silenced them. It is so important to support Black women filmmakers and their work, so make sure to check out their projects and the rest of the films included on Black Women Directors! You can keep up with Black Women Directors on tumblr and Twitter.