Speaking of “Hidden Figures,” here’s an intriguing upcoming documentary from filmmaker Sheila Dianne Jackson and her Eve’s Lime Productions shingle, that I think will be of interest to many of you. Promising to bring to light the mostly ignored story of black women in rock, the film is titled “Nice & Rough: Black Women IN Rock.”
Per the filmmaker, it will pay homage to the women who helped define the sound that emerged as rock n’ roll in the 1950s and 60s, and the generation of women that followed them, inspired by their contributions. It originally started as a documentary on background singers, and evolved into something more that will uncover a rarely talked about, and to many, likely entirely unknown history of black women in rock. Jackson says she was inspired by her sister, a multi-talented singer (opera, jazz, R&B, and metal rock), who was attracted to hardcore rock music, which the filmmaker was fascinated by, leading her to expand her original idea into one that chronicled a rich though “hidden” history.
According to ShadowAndAct.com, during the Television Critics Association (TCA) winter tour, PBS unveiled that it has teamed up with African-American scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. for a 3-part/6-hour documentary series titled “Africa’s Great Civilizations” which premieres on February 27, promising to bring “little-known yet epic stories to life, detailing African kingdoms and cultures.”
The official summary is as follows: “Henry Louis Gates, Jr. provides a new look from an African perspective at African history, traversing the dawn of mankind to the dawn of the 20th century. The series is a breathtaking and personal journey through history that includes evidence of the earliest human culture and art, arguably the world’s greatest ever civilizations and kingdoms, and some of the world’s earliest writing. Gates travels throughout the vast continent of Africa to discover the true majesty of its greatest civilizations and kingdoms.”
The series will air over 3 nights, Monday-Wednesday, February 27-March 1, from 9-11 p.m. ET each airing. To see the trailer, click below:
It wasn’t easy – but Idris Brewster and Seun Summers made it through. The two teenagers made it through a difficult, challenge-filled journey to graduate high school. And they made it through with cameras documenting their every move. The two friends were the main characters in the documentary American Promise, which explores their lives in Brooklyn from kindergarten to high school graduation day.
Idris’ parents Michèle Stephenson and Joe Brewster are the film’s producers and directors. Both Idris and Seun, who are African-American, are admitted into the Dalton School, a prestigious private school on New York’s Upper East Side.
Both of the boy’s parents decide it’s an opportunity they cannot pass up – but also acknowledge there will be difficulties their sons face on issues of race and class.
How would Idris and Seun handle fitting into the culture of a mostly white prep school?
The answer is complex – which the film shows in situations varying from tragic to mundane. The documentary raises more questions than it provides answers:
Why do girls say no to Idris when he asks them to dance in middle school? (His black male classmates are convinced they would all “get girls” if they were white)
Why does the school perceive Seun as unprepared? (His mom swears he is organized and motivated at home)
What are Seun and Idris ‘missing out on’ by attending Dalton?
Seun – who struggled to connect with other kids socially and had his fair share of academic troubles at Dalton – decides to leave after eighth grade and go to a predominantly black high school in Brooklyn.
Idris stays and attends high school at Dalton but is not without struggle – he is later diagnosed with ADHD during his sophomore year after years of trouble focusing. He also struggles to keep up with the academic rigors of Dalton, but ultimately stays and finds the experience rewarding.
Close your eyes and listen to Juan Manuel Chavez launch into the Prelude of Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1, and you would never guess that, instead of spruce and maple, his instrument is crafted from an old oil can, a beef tenderizing tool, and a discarded pasta making device—all of it scavenged from the landfill that surrounds his home in Paraguay.
Chavez is a cellist in the Landfill Harmonic Orchestra in Cateura, an Asunción slum where bottle caps, door keys, and paint cans have been given new purpose. Under the supervision of local musician Favio Chávez, these utterly impoverished kids make beautiful music on instruments constructed almost entirely out of materials reclaimed from the dump.
Filmmaker and Asunción native Alejandra Nash first heard about the phenomenon back in 2009, and decided to produce a documentary about the kids—she and her co-producers are aiming for a 2014 release. She’ll have plenty of support. The teaser she posted online last November quickly went viral, with 2 million views on Vimeo, and nearly 1 million on Youtube. It’s inspiring. Check it out…
Now her project’s Facebook page has more than 125,000 likes. And a Kickstarter campaign Nash launched in April to help fund the film’s completion has raised almost $200,000, well over the $175,000 she’d asked for. Beyond funding post-production work, the additional money will help finance a world tour for the orchestra, and an expansion of what has come to be known as the Landfill Harmonic Movement.
The idea for the orchestra first came about after Chávez brought a youth orchestra from the neighboring town of Carapeguá to perform in Cateura. The Cateura kids wanted to learn, too, but as Chávez points out in the teaser, “A community like Cateura is not a place to have a violin. In fact, a violin is worth more than a house here.”
Bill Duke’s thought-provoking film, “Dark Girls” is headed to Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network this June.
The documentary first emerged in 2011 at the Toronto International Film Festival and had great promise of becoming something bigger and better. But it never turned up as a national theater release and continued to tour across the country.
Duke announced in 2012 at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, that he was in the middle of developing two feature documentaries as follow ups to “Dark Girls.”
“Yellow Brick Road” will look at the ‘colorism’ issue from the perspective of light-skinned Black women. The other documentary, “What Is A Man?” will explore masculinity and manhood as it has transformed from the beginning of time to present day. Filming for the project has already begun and it turns out Duke has been interviewing people from all around the world.
Two short documentaries directed and produced by Barbara Rick about Daraja Academy in Kenya air back-to-back on PBS on May 9th, “Girls of Daraja” followed by “Schools of My Dreams.”
Girls of Daraja: A boarding secondary school for Kenyan girls with top academic scores and exceptional leadership skills but no means to continue their education. The academy provides shelter, food, healthcare and counseling services which allows students to focus on their academic and personal potential, without being hindered by the everyday barriers of poverty.
School of My Dreams: An engaging portrait of students of Daraja Academy, a free Kenyan boarding school for exceptional girls living in poverty. In their own words and art, Daraja’s first graduating class demonstrates how education is expanding their vision and unlocking their dreams. They commit to transforming their communities and the world. Watch the trailer below:
April marks Austism Awareness Month, and in support of the cause, Centric will premiere, Colored My Mind: The Diagnosis, a short documentary that tackles the impact of the disorder on families. Spearheaded by Attorney Shannon Nash and LaDonna Hughley, wife of comedian D.L. Hughley, the 30-minute documentary was inspired by the mission of their Los Angeles-based non-profit of the same name.
Nash and Hughley, alongside actress Tisha Campbell-Martin; Tammy McCrary, sister and manager of Chaka Khan, and administrator Donna Hunter, share their stories of raising children with the disorder. Each woman’s candid story is paired with dramatizations featuring noted actors Blair Underwood and Nicole Ari Parker.
One in 70 boys has autism, with African-Americans and Latinos being diagnosed later than Caucasians. Boys are also four times more likely to have autism than girls.
Director Nia T. Hill provides a captivating and emotional look into the often overlooked world of autism. The documentary addresses and uncovers the truths about why some Black and Brown children are not receiving the same medical diagnoses or are misdiagnosed. The narratives explore “sadness, strength, joy, and the ultimate hope that binds us all to fight for a better tomorrow.”
Oscar-winning actress Whoopi Goldberg is developing a 10-part documentary series exploring the history of black entertainment from the 1800s through the present. “The View” host announced her next project last week during the Tribeca Film Festival screening of her debut documentary, “I Got Somethin’ To Tell You.”
An audience member asked Goldberg what her next non-fiction project would be after the success of “I Got Somethin’ To Tell You.” She responded by explaining the difficulties of creating her first documentary and how it inspired her to expand on the research of black entertainers. Goldberg said the “history of black entertainers, comedy and vaudeville has not been covered comprehensively onscreen” according to Real Screen.
“I Got Somethin’ To Tell You” focuses on the life of comedic pioneer Moms Mabley. The documentary was completely funded through Kickstarter. Goldberg expressed her gratitude to all that donated to her campaign.
“Imagine A Future: My Black Is Beautiful” debuts during The Tribeca Film Festival.
It was only a year ago that Procter & Gamble’s My Black Is Beautiful (MBIB), an organization that celebrates the diverse beauty of African-American women and fosters self-esteem, launched the initiative “Imagine A Future.”
The program, a collaboration with Black Girls Rock, aims to create opportunities for young black girls throughout the country by providing resources that foster a greater sense of confidence. And they aren’t just talking a few hundred or a few thousand girls — the goal is to reach one million young women over the next two years.
Now, Procter & Gamble is strengthening this herculean task with a dose of Hollywood. The mega consumer goods company and executive producer Beverly Bond have created a documentary called “Imagine A Future: My Black Is Beautiful,” which debuted Sunday afternoon at the Tribeca Film Festival.
The film, which is co-directed by Shola Lynch and Lisa Cortes, follows Janet Goldsboro, a teenager from Delaware, who is struggling to find and own her worth. Like any boy-crazy teen girl, Goldsboro is plagued with insecurities, however it’s the color of her skin that she finds most troubling.
Announced via press release, HBO has acquired all U.S. broadcast and home video rights to Moms Mabley: I Got Somethin’ to Tell You from first-time director Whoopi Goldberg. The feature-length documentary about the iconic stand-up comedienne, will have its world premiere at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday, April 20.
Executive produced by Goldberg, Tom Leonardis and George Schlatter, the documentary will debut exclusively on HBO later this year. In the film, Goldberg explores Mabley’s legacy through recently unearthed photography, rediscovered performance footage and the words of numerous celebrated comedians, entertainers and historians, including Eddie Murphy,Joan Rivers, Sidney Poitier, Kathy Griffin, Harry Belafonte, Bill Cosby, Quincy Jones, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara.
Mabley tackled topics such as gender, sex and racism, making her one of the first triple X-rated comedians on the comedy circuit. Once billed as “The Funniest Woman in the World,” she performed on stage and in television and film up until her death in 1975.
“Moms Mabley has been a huge inspiration to me and so many others, but not a lot of folks outside of the comedy world know about her legacy,” said Goldberg in a statement. “There are a lot of us who wouldn’t be working today without pioneers like her. HBO gave me my first break on TV, so it’s only fitting that Moms has a home there now.