Tag: black female filmmakers

How Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” Helped Bring Julie Dash’s Groundbreaking Film “Daughters of the Dust” Back to Theaters

"Daughters of the Dust" directed by Julie Dash (poster via Cohen Media Group)
Poster for re-release of “Daughters of the Dust” directed by Julie Dash (via Cohen Media Group)

article by Yohana Desta via vanityfair.com

In 1991, Julie Dash’s sumptuous film Daughters of the Dust” broke ground as the first movie directed by a black woman to get a wide theatrical release.  Since then, the gorgeous tone poem about a Gullah family in 1902 has continued to gather accolades. It was added to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2004, and recently served as a heavy inspiration for Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade.

Now, the film is being re-introduced to the mainstream in a splashy new way—the Cohen Media Group has created a rich 2K restoration that will be screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, then released in theaters again this November. (Watch the exclusive new trailer above to see the film restored in all its fresh, new glory, and scroll down to see the glossy new poster.)

Dash calls the new release “exciting.”“I never imagined it would be released again,” she says.  For the record, Dash is also a huge fan of Lemonade—and says that the visual album actually helped Daughters on the road to restoration. Read on to see her thoughts about Beyoncé, Hollywood, and whether she’d ever make a sequel to her classic film.

Vanity Fair: Were you paying attention at all to Lemonade, to the Beyoncé film?

Julie Dash: Yes. My phone blew up the night Lemonade came on and my Web site shut down . . . someone called me and said Daughters of the Dust is trending on Twitter. And I said, “No, it must be something else,” and they said, “No, it’s trending!” And I looked and it was, and it was so funny. It just tickled me to death. So I finally got a chance to see Lemonade and I was just very pleased. Lemonade is just—it breaks new ground. It’s a masterpiece.It’s a tone poem, a visual tone poem with various stories going on—vignettes. It’s just all visual, and it’s like yes.

To read full interview and see the “Daughters of the Dust” trailer, go to: How Beyoncé’s Lemonade Helped Bring a Groundbreaking Film Back to Thea | Vanity Fair

How Four Black Women in Entertainment Created a Film Scholarship to Foster New Voices

Four Sistersarticle by Paula Rogo via essence.com

When Dehanza Rogers first heard of the Four Sisters Endowed Scholarship, she wondered at the meaning of the name.

“I mean what sisters are we talking about?” she remembers thinking to herself. “It could have meant any number of things.”

Then a first-year MFA student at the UCLA School of Theater Film and Television, the 2014 graduate applied for the scholarship to help fund her thesis film years late.

But when she saw the names behind the scholarship, she knew what sistas they were actually talking about: Sara Finney-Johnson, Mara Brock Akil, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Felicia D. Henderson. From Being Mary Jane and Moesha to Love & Basketball and Soul Food: The Series, these four women have created some of the most important talking points in Black television and film lexicon.

Indeed, for decades, they have consistently been telling stories of the Black experience, navigating an industry that is notorious as much for its lack of diversity in storytelling as its storytellers. Each had her share of pushback and difficulties. And it was from these experiences that the idea —- to endow a scholarship towards filmmakers wanting to create African-American themed projects  — was born. And the four friends agreed to endow it in a place that molds future industry influencers:  film school.

Continue reading “How Four Black Women in Entertainment Created a Film Scholarship to Foster New Voices”

Filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood Issues Urgent Open Letter; Support Black Film #BeyondTheLights

gina prince bythewood
Writer-Producer-Director Gina Prince-Bythewood issues Open Letter about her film Beyond The Lights. ” We need positive images to counter the negative portrayals we see every day.”

After the first preview audience screening of “Love & Basketball” a 17 year-old Black boy said, “The movie taught me how to love.” Fourteen years later, after the first preview audience screening of “beyond the lights,” a 17 year-old Black boy said, “I didn’t really believe in hope and love before, but this movie changed me.” That is why I make movies. Movies have power. Power to impact society and the choices we make. I want to entertain, but I also want to say something to the world.

nate & gina

I love movies. And I dig a great love story; the kind that wrecks me, then builds me back up and leaves me inspired. I write what I want to see. I wanted to make a love story with two people of color in the lead. Not a romantic comedy. A love story. “Beyond the Lights” took incredible fight to get made. Four years of writing, and two years of overcoming “no.” Every studio balked. Twice. But I kept fighting. What gave me the courage was “Love & Basketball.” Every studio turned down that film, too. But I never gave up because I believed in it with my whole heart and soul.

I had the same passion for this story. People ask me all the time if I feel discriminated against as a black female director and I actually don’t. I get offered a ton of stuff. But I like to direct what I’ve written. I feel what’s discriminated against are my choices, which is to focus on people of color as real people. Those are the films that rarely get made and those are the films that take a lot more fight. But I’m up for the fight, because if we don’t fight for this we stay invisible. I want us to look up on the screen and see ourselves reflected beautifully. I want us to look up on screen and learn how to love the right way. I want us to look up on screen and see a black man who is strong, sexy, complicated, and real. I want us to look up on screen and see a black woman fighting to find her voice, find her authentic self and be brave enough to live an authentic life. I want us to look up on screen and be inspired to want more for ourselves, to want to love, and to love ourselves.

There is a perception within our community and the world that black people don’t love each other. That we don’t fight for each other. That perception is so dangerous. We need positive images to counter the negative portrayals we see every day. And positive doesn’t mean perfect. Perfect is boring. I want real. But more than anything, “beyond the lights” is a really good movie experience that I don’t want you to miss. It is the kind of movie that should be shared. That collective explosive reaction to character, story, and music is fun. The advanced screenings have been like revivals. Audiences break into applause during the movie. Phenomenal performances. Insane chemistry between Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Nate Parker.  Dope music.  Beautifully complex mother/daughter and father/son relationships that are rarely explored with people of color.  You will laugh. You may cry.  You will feel.  And you may be changed.  I hope you check out the film over this holiday weekend.  It is a time to be grateful.  It is time to be inspired. It is a time to fight.

Gina Prince-Bythewood