Events

2017 Workshops

SOUND (8hrs)
January 4, 2017 – 6:30 to 8pm VIRTUAL sound workshop (2hrs)  1/3
January 8, 2017 – 12 to 4pm ON LOCATION sound workshop (4hrs) 2/3
TBD, 2017 –  12pm-2pm STUDIO – FINAL sound workshop (2hrs)  3/3
($150 each; max 5 students; $75 deposit and payment plan ok)

 

SCRIPT WRITING (8 hrs)
Thursday, January 5, 2017 – 6:30 to 8:30pm [VIRTUAL] bffs script writing workshop (2hrs) 1/3
Saturday, January 7, 2017 – 11:30 to 2pm [STUDIO + VIRTUAL] script workshop (2.5hrs) 2/3
TBD, 2017 – 11:30 to 2pm [STUDIO + VIRTUAL] script workshop (2.5hrs) 3/3
And 1 one-on-one session.
($175 each; max 5 students; $75 deposit and payment plan ok)
Register for Script Writing Here

 

ACTING FOR CAMERA (4hrs)
January 6, 2017 – 6 to 8pm bffs acting for camera workshop (2hrs) 1/2
TBD – 6 to 8pm follow-up acting for the camera workshop (2hrs) 2/2
($150 each; max 4 students; $75 deposit and payment plan ok)

 

PRODUCTION (15hrs)
March 2nd, 2017 – 6:30-9:30pm [STUDIO] bffs Production workshop (3hrs) 1/2
March 4th, 2017 – 8am to 8pm [ON LOCATION ] bffs Production workshop (12hrs) 2/2
April 1st, 2017 – 6pm [VIRTUAL + STUDIO] bffs follow-up rough cut screening (optional)

 

PRODUCTION INTENSIVE (4 days)
Black Feminist Film School Summer Production Intensive – Register for Intensive Here

Friday, June 30, 2017 to Monday, July 3, 2017 ON LOCATION
(4 Fellows max; $600 each; $100 non-refundable deposit; payment plan ok)
https://blackfeministfilmschool.wordpress.com/events/bffs-summer-intensive-2017/

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Registration Form and Deposit Required to sign up.
What Black Feminist Film or Filmmaker would you want to dedicate your time to (i.e. or which one do you see yourself working in the legacy of) in this workshop and why/how?
What do you hope to accomplish in the workshop?

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4/4/13

What: Black Feminist Film School Presents Experimental Shorts
Who: Black Feminist Film School (and you hopefully)
When:
Thursday, April 4th – 6pm
Where: Duke University FHI Garage Smith Warehouse Bay 4  114 S. Buchanan Blvd., Durham, NC 27708-0403
General Info: https://blackfeministfilmschool.wordpress.com/

Films will include:

Water Ritual #1

still from Water Ritual #1

Water Ritual #1 (1979)
Directed by Barbara McCullough

Vanilla Sex (1992)
Directed by Cheryll Dunye

Hairpiece (1984)
Directed by Ayoka Chenzira

and select shorts Directed by Julia Roxanne Wallace
including No Legacy Let Go: A Ritual of Remembrance and Healing (2012)

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3/9/13

What: The Blueprint: Script Reading and Writing

Who: Black Feminist Film School (and you hopefully)
When:
Saturday, March 9th – 3 to 5pm
Where: The Eleanor at Rigsbee 204 Rigsbee St. #201  Durham, NC
General Info: https://blackfeministfilmschool.wordpress.com/

Event Description
Because the ceremony must be found to give life to our poetic filmmaking dreams we are convening this “Production” workshop-playdate. This is a space to explore the foundational document in filmmaking – the script. We will work with scene’s from Julie Dash’s script and film Daughters of the Dust. In this conversation-workshop-playdate looking at the conventions of the film script, how some black feminists have used the form of the script and explore what form of blueprint/script and other documents might be useful for a black feminist approach to filmmaking.

black feminism the frame, not the limit

1/30/ 13

A Litany for Survival: The Life and Work of Audre Lorde by Ada Griffin and Michelle Parkerson 54ded1f80412b1afcc1f22fbb5bff7b8_1M

Wednesday, January 30th,  6:30 pm

Duke University FHI Garage Smith Warehouse Bay 4  114 S. Buchanan Blvd., Durham, NC 27708-0403

Join the Black Feminist Film School Crew for a special screening of Ada Griffin and Michelle Parkerson’s crucial film on the life and legacy of Audre Lorde in preparation for February (or as Alexis likes to call it…”the month of our Lorde”).   Also be the FIRST to learn about Lex’s new Lorde Concordance traveling performance through an interactive exercise!  See you there!!!!

10/6/12  Julie Dash’s Praise House: A Black Feminist Film School Screening and Discussion

Tuesday, Nov. 6th 2012

6:30 pm

Duke University FHI Garage Smith Warehouse Bay 4 114 S. Buchanan Blvd., Durham, NC 27708-0403

Join Black Feminist Film School as we continue our investigation of intergenerational healing through Black Feminist Film with Julie Dash’s 1991 short film Praise House.  In collaboration with the acclaimed Urban Bush Women Dance Troupe, Praise House creates ritual filmic dream space.   We look forward to seeing you there!

Many thanks to our co-sponsors at the Sallie Bingham Archive for Women’s History.

Email mobilehomecoming@gmail.com with any questions!

9/6 Suzanne Suzanne: A Black Feminist Film School Screening and Discussion

light meter in front of suzanne, mother billie in background

Thursday, September 6, 2012
6:30pm

at Duke University FHI Garage Smith Warehouse Bay 4 114 S. Buchanan Blvd., Durham, NC 27708-0403

In 1982 Camille Billops made what history now considers her first film. Her family was her subject, her object, that which she objected to, which is another way of saying I believe she made this film because she believed in the possibility of healing, or because she believed in the possibility of community and knew where to start first, what not to skip.

Join the Black Feminist Film School crew for a screening and discussion as part of our year long dialogue about what makes a Black Feminist Film and get info about our schedule of screenings and production workshops this Fall!

bffs inaugural public event – Report Back

The house was packed. The catering was delicious. And! we all learned something about what it took for queer/lgbt people and queer/lgbt people of color to become successful filmmakers in the 90s and before.  We learned some of the costs for being a black queer/lgbt filmmaker from seasoned filmmakers that have remained relevant. Alexis and Julia have shared their remarks from the event below.

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Alexis's inspiring introductionExcerpt from Alexis’s Welcome

“…we know that the only way to have a conversation about Black feminist film and what it might be or should be is to actually watch films together and talk about them and write about them and see what they have to do with each other and with us and with the communities we want to create….”  read more  – – > Alexis’s Complete Welcome

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Julia - Cinematographer for classmateExcerpt from Julia’s Comments

“…I make myself a filmmaker like Milla Granson was a teacher. She was a slave who learned to read from the children of her owner. She taught 12 students at a time, also slaves, to read in her midnight school. Once they learned she dismissed them and taught 12 more. Over the years, she taught hundreds of salves to read and write and many of them used that tool to gain their freedom…”  read more  – – > Julia’s Complete Comments

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Black Feminist Filmmaking – Thursday, April 19th, 2012 5-7pm

Duke University FHI Garage Smith Warehouse Bay 4

114 S. Buchanan Blvd., Durham, NC 27708-0403

Cheryl Dunye’s work as a Black lesbian filmmaker has challenged, transformed and sometimes even stood in for a conversation about race, feminism, lesbianism, the archive and the practice of contemporary film. As a collaboration between the Sallie Bingham Archive and the public launch of Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind’s new Black Feminist Film School, we present a screening of the often neglected early work of Cheryl Dunye followed by a panel discussion moderated by Black Feminist Film School co-founder Alexis Pauline Gumbs and featuring local Black lesbian and queer filmmakers Yvonne Welbon, Katina Parker and Julia Roxanne Wallace.

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Yvonne Welbon

Yvonne Welbon is an award-winning independent filmmaker and freelance producer. Since 1991, she has made eight films and produced a dozen others. Her independent films have screened on PBS, Starz/Encore, TV-ONE, IFC, Bravo, the Sundance Channel and in over one hundred film festivals around the world.

Living With Pride: Ruth Ellis @ 100 has won ten best documentary awards — including the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Documentary. Her ongoing Sundance Documentary Fellow project is Sisters in Cinema, a documentary, website and forth-coming book based on her doctoral dissertation about the history of African American women feature film directors.

Her freelance producer projects include: John Pierson’s Split Screen, Zeinabu irene Davis’ Sundance dramatic competition feature Compensation, Cheryl Dunye’s HBO film Stranger Inside, Thomas Allen Harris’ Berlin Int’l Film Festival award-winning documentary É Minha Cara/That’s My Face, and Catherine Crouch’s directorial debut Stray Dogs, starring Guinevere Turner.

Yvonne Welbon received an undergraduate degree in History from Vassar College. Thereafter, she spent six years in Taipei, Taiwan, where she taught English, learned Mandarin Chinese, and founded and published a premiere arts magazine. She returned to the United States and completed a Master of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a Ph.D. from Northwestern University. She is also a graduate of the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women.

Welbon is the current department chair of the Journalism and Media Studies department at Bennett College for Women, a women’s HBCU in Greensboro, NC. She has been teaching at Bennett since August 2008.

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Katina Parker

Katina Parker won Best Documentary Honorable Mention for her film Peace Process at the Vibe UrbanWorld Film Festival.

Katina Parker is a Durham-based communications consultant who has advised both the National Black Justice Coalition and the Ford Foundation’s Just Films initiative. Parker teaches social media and film through the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) at Duke University and serves as an Instructor for North Carolina’s Community Folklife Documentation Institute.

She is the Co-Chair of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Task Force and the Vice President of the Association of Wake Forest University’s Black Alumni (AWFUBA) group.

Previously, Parker spent several years working as a Media Strategist for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), where she fine-tuned her public relations and communications savvy. Both Parker and her work have been featured in or on NPR, Essence.com, Vibe.com, The Warren Ballentine Show, BlackEnterprise.com, BlackVoices.com, PoliticalAffairs.com, and Rolling Stone magazine.

She received her M.F.A. in Film Production from the University of Southern California and her B.A. in Speech Communications from Wake Forest University. Previously, she has been mentored by the Inaugural Poet Maya Angelou and Poetry Legend Sonia Sanchez.

She was born in Oklahoma City and raised in Wilmington, Delaware.

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Julia Roxanne Wallace

Julia Wallace creates media and art intended to heal and transform. Julia is a multimedia consultant, filmmaker, musician, composer, theologian, founder of Queer Renaissance, a multimedia movement based on the premise that we can create the world anew, and co-creator of Mobile Homecoming, a national intergenerational experiential archive project that seeks to amplify generations of Black LGBTQ brilliance by using multimedia and building intergenerational family of choice across time and space.

Julia received an undergraduate degree in Multimedia Communication from UNC Asheville, a Masters in Divinity from Emory University and has completed coursework toward a Masters in Film Production at Georgia State University. Julia has directed several short narrative films, a documentary piece on artist Lillian Blades and documented many LGBTQ community events. Julia debuted a collection of work at the event Queer Renaissance: The Ties that Bind in Atlanta, GA. Julia is also currently working on an independent film that combines Healing Poetics, a Black Feminist approach to social satire, as well as original music and choreography. This project is a national collaboration intended to instigate healing toward transformation.

*Join us after the event to listen to Angela Y. Davis speak across the street about public intellectualism and prison abolition.

…………………………………………………………

Welcome by Alexis Pauline Gumbs

Black Feminist Filmmaking

Ya Dun Know:  Cheryl Dunye and What You Don’t Know

Welcome to Black Feminist Filmmaking a screening and panel that I am SO excited about!!!!

I want to thank the co-sponsors of this event, African and African American Studies, the program in Women’s Studies, the program in the Study of Sexualities, the program in the Arts of the Moving Image, and the Bingham Center.   And I want to thank Kelly Wooten and Shilyh Warren for materially moving on a Facebook status update on how I wished someone would donate the Early Works of Cheryl Dunye DVD to the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind library, by garnering the resources and doing the work to make this gathering possible as part of a series where hopefully Cheryl Dunye herself will be coming to Durham sometime soon.

Who here would be interested in coming to an event where Cheryl Dunye talked about her own work in the context of Black Feminist Filmmaking?

(Everyone in the packed room raised their hands!)

And (Cheryl Dunye responded “maybe” to my Facebook invitation so maybe it already worked!)

I also want to thank each of you for coming because I am tired of watching Black feminist films by myself in libraries across the country.  The reason that Julia Roxanne Wallace and I founded Black Feminist Film School is because

  1. we noticed that in film departments across the country, including the program that Julia is in at Georgia State, films by black women are glaringly absent in 2012 (let alone any discourse about whether there might be a black feminist tradition in film).
  2. we know that the only way to have a conversation about Black feminist film and what it might be or should be is to actually watch films together and talk about them and write about them and see what they have to do with each other and with us and with the communities we want to create.

Which is another way of saying what in my mothertongue, Jamaican English also known as Patios, also known as the language my mother speaks when she is sleeping, excited or angry, that phrase we say to invite people into the activating possibility of the unknown  “ya dun know.”   Part punctation, part hype man party line and not quite as confrontational as TI’s “you don’t know me,” this invocation and reminder  “Ya dun know” has a poetic relationship for me with the name Cheryl Dunye and the technology of what by far the most acclaimed and well known Black lesbian filmmaker before Pariah (directed by Dee Rees) calls her style, the Dunyementary.

And indeed there is so much we don’t know.  As Cheryl Dunye tags at the end of her famous film The Watermelon Woman  “Sometimes you have to create your own history.”  Recently, in a book I contributed to Make Your Own History: Documenting Feminist Archives co-edited by Kelly Wooten, one of the organizers of tonight’s event, this title is the inspiration. And indeed this book which you should all buy, (and not only to read my chapter on the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind Community School as an archival model) also includes a chapter on Cheryl Dunye’s most famous and almost exclusively watched film The Watermelon Woman which seeks an imaginary historical Black lesbian ancestor in film.

In my experience Dunye’s work is a major opening into what we don’t know.  In The Watermelon Woman she explicitly looks at what has been excluded from the archive,  and The Watermelon Woman itself through its exceptional availability also participates in the political economy of exclusion and erasure.  If I had ten dollars for every time I have read or witnessed at a conference a white lesbian feminist film scholar discuss and contextualize range of obscure white lesbian films and then without any reference or context of other films made by black women tokenistically offer a reading of The Watermelon Woman instead of actually doing the work to look at Black lesbian and feminist filmmaking as a tradition with its own possible context deserving of its own literacy….well…let’s just say we could offer our brilliant speakers their same honoraria without our generous co-sponsors here at Duke.

Yes I said it.  White film scholars have used the success of Dunye’s film as an excuse to not know any thing about black lesbian or black feminist filmmaking and still consider themselves experts in something that they do not call what it is:  white lesbian film studies.  And even worse, many folks who are fans of Dunye and appreciate her intervention in The Watermelon Woman, talk about the work outside of the context of her other work.  Which is why we are so excited tonight to show two rarely screened works by Cheryl Dunye, The Potluck and the Passion and An Untitled Portrait and to engage in an inspiring conversation with some local Black lesbian and queer filmmakers and all of you.

Also the last thing that I want to say is that I do think of this first public event of Black Feminist Film School as a historic moment.  The possibility of a Black feminist film school is a queer possibility inspired by so much but in particular by my chosen mentor Akasha Gloria Hull a founder of the field of Black Women’s Studies and a co-editor of the anthology  All the Women are White All the Blacks are Men But Some of Us are Brave, who in fact gave me this beautiful top that I am wearing tonight (twirls, also wearing a tutu), and who sent me a photo copy of the out of print  companion book to Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust which has a role-call list compiled by Toni Cade Bambara and her daughter Karma of black feminist filmmakers almost all of whom I had never heard of and whose films are not in distribution now and most of which never were.

So Black Feminist Film School’s first ambitious project is finding all of these filmmakers and their films which are sometimes getting dusty in university libraries and sometimes getting dusty basements around the world.  So if you would like to stay up to date on this growing list of films, if you want to serve as a resource, if you want to donate, you can see Julia and I after the event to stay in touch.

And finally to keep us all brave, here is something that Akasha Hull said to me two years ago right before I graduated with my PhD from Duke.

She said:
“Oh Alexis, what keeps me brave I think is how I started off and learned how to be brave by doing the anthology But Some of Us Are Brave.  What I learned just from the oppositional work of doing that project was that I did not have to sacrifice my black woman passion about my race and my gender for anything.  Not for a career in the academy, not for a person not for anything.   And that I could answer in the affirmative Audre Lorde’s question of I’m doing my work in the world are you doing yours.  Yes.”

May we all continue to be brave enough to stand in the possibility of what we don’t know yet.

We will watch these two short films, listen to some words from our distinguished speakers who I will introduce after the film, and then engage in a conversation together.  Thank you so much being here. It means so much. Ya dun know.

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Create Anew: Black Feminist Film School

Black Feminist Filmmaking as Spiritual Leadership

Gratitude:
First, I want to give thanks for the many ancestors that have gone before us and continue to go before us and beside us to make a way. Also, for those storytellers, teachers, community organizers, technologists and filmmakers who have made my path and the path of my contemporaries easier. Especially, those that are ancestors and that in the words of Alice Walker,

… dreamed dreams that no one knew-not even themselves, in any coherent fashion-and saw visions no one could understand…. [Those that] waited for a day when the unknown thing that was in them would be made known; but guessed, somehow in their darkness, that on the day of their revelation they would be long dead.

So, to those long dead I send light and gratitude. And Gratitude also to those living including black LGBTQ filmmakers like Yvonne Welbon and Katina Parker.

And of course to the organizers of this event Kelly Wooten, Shiylh Warren and last but not least my co-llaborator, co-creator and teacher the beloved and brilliant Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs; I am very grateful that black feminist filmmaking is being validated institutionally because I understand that such a thing does make a difference; and is healing for many living AND long dead. ASE!

What is…

(I want to engage the “what is” a Black Feminist Film/Filmmaker by talking about the image of Black Feminist Filmmaking that I am walking in and toward, even as I am creating it)

I make myself a filmmaker like Milla Granson was a teacher. She was a slave who learned to read from the children of her owner. She taught 12 students at a time, also slaves, to read in her midnight school. Once they learned she dismissed them and taught 12 more. Over the years, she taught hundreds of salves to read and write and many of them used that tool to gain their freedom,

I learned about this woman in Akasha (Gloria) Hull and Barbara Smith’s introduction to All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave. They go on to say:

“She used her skills not to advance her own status, but to help her fellow slaves, and this under the most difficult circumstances… The knowledge she conveyed had a politically and materially transforming function, that is, it empowered people to gain freedom.”

I make myself a filmmaker in the legacy of the Combahee River Collective’s Statement, which is a foundational text for any Black Feminist. They agreed,

“If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all systems of oppression.”

I make myself a filmmaker knowing that we can create the world anew; a world we deserve to have if we choose to do so.

Finally, I make myself a filmmaker in the spirit tradition of specific directors who have created films that are for me canonical; filmmakers such as Julie Dash with Daughters of the Dust, Euzhan Palcy with Sugar Cane Alley, Camille Billops with Suzanne Suzanne and even contemporary filmmaker Kortney Ryan Ziegler in his film, Still Back: A Portrait of Black Transmen.

Judylyn S. Ryan articulates this tradition and it’s characteristics well in her book Spirituality as Ideology in Black Women’s Film and Literature where her book draws out what it sees in Black Women’s art, for me it is reflective, prescriptive and prophetic.

The characteristics that she draws out include:

1) Interpreting Spirituality
2) Embracing Responsibility
3) Bearing Life-Force
4) Reversing Dispossession
5) Renewing Self-Possession
6) Charting Futures
7) (One for me)

Like Judylyn S. Ryan, I too understand “spirituality as a source of knowledge and a way of knowing” that is generative and proactive and not reactive or subject to the “gravitational pull of hegemonic discourses”. And I am learning about the ethos of interconnectedness that has allowed oppressed communities to flourish and serve as imperatives in traditional African cosmology.

This ethos of interconnectedness renders us all as agents and, Black Feminist Filmmakers in particular as leaders in the task of realizing collective well-being. To name oneself a Black Feminist Filmmaker is to embrace this responsibility which also means becoming a mediator between worlds to strengthen the drain and threatened life-force of the community. For example, in form, my tradition of black baptist preaching could be a channel for strengthening life-force.

My journey through divinity school was about gaining tools and understanding just like my journey to simultaneously create and matriculate through Black Feminist Film School. This shows up in my work not in terms of religion but in terms of thinking about how do we make and transfer meaning and how have we done so in the past. Also, divinity school helped me better understand the history of popular cultural Christianity in this country.

Reversing the dispossession that is inherent in “structured absence” which is what is pervasive today – the absence and maligned presence of black people, lgbtq people or all of the above, is another characteristic. We can create generatively for our future AND we can also, in the words of Ryan  “[reinscribe] future agency in a cinematic past”. Then Renewing Self-Possession involves creating not just new images but a new way of viewing critically.

Finally, Charting Futures wraps up or connects this looking back looking forward/Sankofa practice that for me is necessary when intentionally studying anything. I like the way Angela Davis talks about it in Women, Culture and Politics, our challenge is…

to respond fully to the needs of the moment and to do so in such a way that the light one attempts to shine on the present will simultaneously illuminate the future.

And because 7 is the number of completion I add one more. Perhaps it could be a model for each of us in our tranifestas to identify their own purpose as Black Feminist Filmmakers or in whatever role you choose to play. For me that is the choice to create a space of brave loving truth always. It is my practice to create space that is so full of love and a clearly defined standard of love that people are safe enough to open up and transform; and clear enough that if that is not their community accountable intention then they can keep it moving. So, whether that is a space in which, for example, white women can come to understand their privilege and transform into actively anti-racist people; a space where black lesbians can come to understand gender as a construct and transform to mentor young black trans men; or a space where folks can understand that light and dark are tools in film and transform to be filmmakers that not only use light but also darkness and use them with intention. So, this number 7 is all apart of what it means to me, individually, to be a Black Feminist Filmmaker and create self-determined practices and space for other Black Feminists.

Black Feminist Film School Impetus:

Much of the impetus for Black Feminist Film School I have laid out in talking about what it is but of course there are some more personal motivations; and not just those that arise from my creation of Queer Renaissance as a multimedia movement aimed at creating the world anew through art, media, education and entrepreneurship.

I have completed my coursework toward a Master’s in Film Production (except for one class). I am now working on my thesis film. Most directly, the impetus for Black Feminist Film School came from my experience of film school.

The Real Deal
Imagine looking back in time and across history to those that have done what you have understood as your common life’s work. Imagine paying thousands of dollars a year for help to take this journey in which you, not only, read books but participate in discourse that deepens your engagement of these filmic and literary texts. Imagine the benefit of learning about the successes and failures; the juicy, though dusty, gossip of days long gone. Imagine the pride of professors who “used to do” and “used to know” and “once worked with…” Imagine the excitement that ebbs and flows among teachers, colleagues and classmates. Imagine the validation of being invited to conferences and to contribute to journals that engage the topics that you are immersed in; that you are put on this planet to learn, engage and advance. Imagine professors and classmates introducing you to unheard of history that unlocks whole new realms of existence and possibility. Imagine the career opportunities, collaborations, mentoring and friendships.

Now, ….. understand that this look back, for the most part, excludes black people, black women, and certainly black lesbian women. Understand that this sort of ignorance is not only acceptable but encouraged and sanctioned. Understand that there is no discount to tuition and fees for those that do not have the benefit of multiple forms of privilege – economic or otherwise. Understand there is no discount given even if the history of your “people,” whomever they might be, are systematically excluded from the curriculum; and certainly no allowance to seek out that which is missing. Understand that not only are the books and films assigned privileging white male heterosexual works and experience, so is the discourse and the pedagogy. Understand that the reflection that occurs, occurs between those that look and think similarly and so goes the mentorship, collaborations, and other opportunities. Understand that what I find of a legacy to walk into must come from elsewhere – my own research, mentors in other departments, writers and artists across the country; people, often times black feminists or womanists, to whom I pay no tuition or fees, but who see it as there purpose to educate me, that I might not only create but educate others.

So, what you have imagined and now understand is my motivation, with Alexis, to create Black Feminist Film School.

Not only that, but one day I realized that the filmmakers that those paid to advise me had recommended, I guess so that I might identify with them, were Tyler Perry, someone that directs black lesbian adult film,  and tokenized black artists and mediamakers. Not to say anything against them but that was irrelevant to the constant purpose I articulated. Their methods to push me to grow and develop my work often involved random tokenized black people like Oprah Winfrey, as if they never heard or read a word of what I articulated as my intentions. Many do not see it as their job to educate themselves so that they might educate me.

Going in I knew that I would experience isolation and have to create my own opportunities. But because I did not dehumanize my instructors I was often hopelessly hope-full. Perhaps it was inevitable that we would create this opportunity for others. But it is still quite unfortunate that at this stage of the game I would have to create it for myself.

– – –

As I simultaneously create BFFS and matriculate through it (a common practice in a graduate program to teach as you learn and learn as you teach), I am creating films and other forms of art and media, as well. For example, Mobile Homecoming is a project that Alexis and I have created together that has a documentary component. Mobile Homecoming seeks to amplify generations of queer (aka LGBTQ, SGL, etc.) black brilliance. Yvonne Welbon’s film, Living With Pride: Ruth Ellis at 100 is certainly a filmic influence for us on this project. Our project is about honoring those that have come before us and creating not only intergenerational black queer community and family of choice but also models for us to care for our elders as they age. Yvonne’s film certainly models that.

We are still on the journey to acquire all of the necessary tools of production but we have not been stopped by limited access to equipment; while still aspiring to the quality production that has made Yvonne not just a filmmaker but an award winning filmmaker and professor.

Another influence is Suzanne Suzanne a documentary film by Camille Billops that engages her family history and the death of a family member. This documentary has artistically lit and staged scenes that give the film the not only the power to heal but displays the healing itself through narrative drama.

The Mobile Homecoming documentary is still in production and we hope to complete post-production in 2013.

– –

The project I am simultaneously working on, I hope to be representative of not only Black Feminist Filmmaking but also my creative and technical skill as a filmmaker – is a docu-fiction project. It is undeniably, whether by direct influence or not, in the spirit of Cheryl Dunye’s hybrid documentary-fiction work.

In this project a community of mostly black queer folks come together to create a variety show for television. It uses healing poetics and black feminist social satire to inspire growth and transformation by reflecting to us the ways in which we fail to love one another and instead use the masters tools to keep ourselves and others dispossessed (if you will) of our true potential. So, there will be live original performance of dance, music and ritual  alongside skits.

Another way I describe it is Marlon Rigg’s Tongues Untied meets Chappelle’s Show; or as a Daughters of the Dust meeting In Living Color; if you can possibly imagine a Black Feminist In Living Color. This healing poetics I call it Saturday Night Queer!

– – –
Julia’s Questions for BFFS:

  1. I am learning how the Black Arts Movement engages my understanding of Black Feminist Filmmaking; how do they or do they not serve one another?
  2. I must explore the relationship of African Spirituality and cultural practices to the film form?
  3. What are Black Lesbian filmmakers trying to accomplish now; how are they successful or not; what are their methods; how are audiences responding to, benefiting from, or critiquing this work?
  4. What are the technical and analytical skills that are missing from the films being created by new black lesbian filmmakers today?
  5. How can we create films together in this context of love and accountability to black feminist ideals?
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