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Born in Brooklyn, New York, St. Clair Bourne is the son of St. Clair Bourne Sr., who was an editor of the Amsterdam News and a reporter for the People's Voice in the 1930s. Although the younger Bourne began his education at Georgetown University in 1961, he was expelled for student activism. In 1967 he received a B.A. degree from Syracuse University after working with the Peace Corps. He began a degree in filmmaking at Columbia University in 1968, but was again asked to leave because of his political activities.

From 1968 until 1970 Bourne was a producer, writer, and director for the public-television series Black Journal. He established his own company, Chamba Productions, and produced African American documentary films such as Something to Build On (1971) and Let the Church Say Amen! (1973). In 1974 he received the Bronze ...

Article

Angolan anthropologist, writer, and filmmaker, was born in Santarém, Portugal, on 22 April 1941. His family immigrated to Angola in 1953, to the city of Moçamedes, where he spent part of his adolescence. He then returned to Portugal, where in 1960 he finished a course in agronomy. During these Portuguese years, he kept himself at a distance from the group of young nationalist students from the colonies, who tended to congregate around the Casa dos Estudantes do Império in Lisbon, to discuss and denounce the iniquity of the Portuguese colonial system.

Carvalho returned to Angola in 1960. He was living in the province of Uìge when, in 1961, the anticolonial activity of the Movimento Popular para la Libertação de Angola (MPLA) began, which would lead to Angola eventually achieving independence in 1975 In those years Ruy Duarte de Carvalho worked as a coffee grower and ...

Article

Flora González

Born in Havana to a Cuban father and a North American mother, Sergio Giral has lived in Cuba and the United States. After finishing high school in Cuba, Giral spent two years studying painting at the Art Students' League in New York. Following the Cuban Revolution in 1959, he returned to live in Havana. There Giral began engineering studies but soon joined the Instituto Cubano de Arte e Industria Cinematográficas (Cuban Institute for the Arts and Film Industry) or ICAIC in 1961. Like film director Sara Gómez, Giral belongs to the second generation of ICAIC filmmakers, who worked under the tutelage of Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, the best-known Cuban director.

Giral's films include a slave trilogy—El otro Francisco (The Other Francisco, 1974), El rancheador (The Slave Hunter; 1976), and Maluala (1979)—and a film on contemporary Cuban issues, Techo de vidrio ...

Article

The son of farmers, Med Hondo was raised in the Atar region of Mauritania on the edge of the Sahara. At 18 he left home to attend cooking school in Morocco, after which he went to work as a chef in France. It was in France that he became interested in the performing arts.

Hondo began his artistic career by acting for French theater companies. Frustrated by the roles they offered him, he soon formed a theater ensemble with the aim of producing plays that expressed feelings common among Africans in Europe: exile and estrangement. To earn extra income, he also took parts in movies and television. Through this work he became fascinated with film and taught himself to use a movie camera. In early 1969 Hondo directed his first short film. By the end of the year he completed his first full-length feature, Soleil O It ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Mauritanian filmmaker and actor active in France, was born on 4 May 1936 in Atar, Mauritania. His family belonged to the prominent northern clerical family of the Barikallah. Hondo’s paternal grandfather was a Muslim scholar and poet. One of his grandmothers originally came from Mali, and his father was originally from the Western Sahara, a Spanish colony until 1975 when it came under Moroccan control.

After attending primary and secondary schools, including some time at a culinary program at the International Hotel School in the Moroccan capital of Rabat, Hondo moved in 1959 to Marseilles France where he worked as a dockworker Hondo read voraciously and drew inspiration from writers such as Frantz Fanon Cheikh Anta Diop Aimé Césaire and Kateb Yacine Hondo later noted how frustrated he was by the invisibility of people of color in French popular culture and film On movie screens or in theaters our ...

Article

Daniel Donaghy

film directors, producers and writers. Fraternal twins, Albert and Allen Hughes were born in Detroit Michigan to an African American father and an Armenian mother Aida who was born in Iran Albert is older than Albert by nine minutes Their parents divorced when they were two years old and at age nine the Hughes Brothers moved with their mother to Pomona California an hour from Hollywood where they first became interested in filmmaking Their mother ran her own business a vocational center and let her sons use the family s video camera to make films in part to let them pursue their passion and in part to keep them away from gangs and drugs While media outlets and the brothers own public relation representatives would later emphasize the pair s rough urban childhood experiences the two in fact were never in gangs and had stable childhoods complete ...

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Mark D. Cunningham

filmmakers and film producers, were born in Detroit, Michigan, the twin sons of an African American father and a white Armenian mother, Aida Hughes. Though information about their father is limited, the Hughes Brothers, as they are most well known commercially, have suggested in interviews that he was or tried to be a pimp. Their parents divorced when the brothers were two years old. In 1981 Aida moved her young sons to Pomona, California, a suburb near Hollywood. With little more than a fast food restaurant worker's income, Aida supported her family while simultaneously putting herself through college. She eventually established her own business to rehabilitate injured workers and satisfied her activist spirit by becoming president of the Pomona chapter of the National Organization for Women.

To keep her boys out of trouble Aida lent her company s video camera to her sons to occupy their time creating ...

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Livia Apa

Angolan photographer, documentarist, and filmmaker, was born on 30 July 1976 in Benguela, Angola. When he was eight years old, his family moved to Portugal. Although Liberdade stayed in Portugal, he often visited Angola for professional reasons. He graduated with a degree in cultural marketing from the Universidade Lusófona of Lisbon, and also attended some courses for a master’s degree in African studies in the Instituto Superior de Ciências do Trabalho e da Empresa (ISCTE) in Lisbon. Liberdade attended a course of cine-video in the Instituto Superior de Artes Design, Marketing e Publicidade (IADE) of the Portuguese capital. At the age of twenty, he produced his first documentary, O Rap è Uma Arma 1996 which follows rappers living in the suburbs of Lisbon These suburban spaces usually known for their violence are presented in Liberdade s film as places of extreme cultural vitality He won the prize for best ...

Article

Ina J. Fandrich

documentary filmmaker, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the youngest of three sons of the engineer and contractor Frederick McDonald Massiah, a native of Barbados, and Edith Lamarre-Massiah from Haiti, who taught French at North Carolina Central College and the Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Massiah grew up in North Philadelphia near Temple University. He attended Friends Select School, an independent Quaker institution in Philadelphia, from kindergarten through grade 12, and received an undergraduate degree from Cornell University in 1977.

At Cornell, Massiah studied physics and astronomy, but also became interested in media arts. While residing at the University's Risley College for the Creative and Performing Arts, Massiah made the experimental film Exercise: Swim, Pebble, Martyr, Remember (1975 During this time he also started to work at WNET the public television station in New York City He later pursued a graduate degree in Documentary Filmmaking ...

Article

Debbie Clare Olson

filmmaker, producer, director, playwright, writer, and cultural critic, was born in Newark, New Jersey, but spent most of his childhood in North Carolina. Little is known about his family. After high school, Moss moved to Baltimore and attended Morgan State College, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1929. He also attended Columbia University in New York City, where he formed a troupe of black actors called “Toward a Black Theater.” The troupe toured around New York City and performed at various black colleges.

Moss was active in the theater and radio and acted in his first film, The Phantom of Kenwood, in 1933. The film was directed by Oscar Micheaux, one of the more prolific early black filmmakers. Between 1932 and 1933 Moss wrote three dramas—“Careless Love,” “Folks from Dixie,” and “Noah”—for a radio series called The Negro Hour ...

Article

Todd Steven Burroughs

journalist and prisoner, was born in Lawtell, Louisiana, to Gladys a and Rideau's family moved to Lake Charles, Louisiana, when he was six years old. His parents divorced before he became a teenager. He attended the Second Ward Elementary School, followed by the W.-O. Boston Colored High School until he dropped out.

Rideau worked a series of menial jobs from age thirteen to nineteen, when he was convicted of robbery and murder. On 16 February 1961, he robbed the Gulf National Bank. During thefourteen-thousand-dollar heist, he kidnapped three of the bank's white employees and killed one of them, Julia Ferguson, a forty-nine-year-old woman. An all-white, all-male jury convicted him and sentenced him to death that same year. He would be tried again by all-white, all-male juries in 1964 and in 1970 and he would remain in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola known nationally for being ...

Article

David A. Gerstner

filmmaker, was born Marlon Troy Riggs in Fort Worth, Texas, to Jean Williams, director of Equal Employment Opportunity and Civil Rights, a federal agency, and Alvin Riggs, who had a career in military and federal service. In the late 1960s Jean and Alvin Riggs moved Marlon and his sister, Sascha, to Augusta, Georgia, where, among other racist incidents, Marlon's school would not sponsor him in the state spelling bee even though he won the local contest. Alvin Riggs's military job took the family to Germany, where Marlon spent his high school years.

Like other African Americans who had lived abroad Marlon was struck by the overt racism and segregation that he experienced upon his return to the United States In addition to the ideological divides of race Riggs s homosexuality further complicated the oversimplified determinants of identity His experiences and observations of difference however served as ...

Article

Malaika B. Horne

filmmaker, educator, writer, and gay and civil rights activist. Riggs was born into a military family in Fort Worth, Texas, one of two children of Jean Riggs and Alvin Riggs. He graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in history from Harvard University in 1978. In 1981 he earned a master's degree in journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. A brilliant documentary filmmaker and scholar, he had a raw aesthetic sensibility that sought to shock and galvanize. The youngest tenured professor in the arts and humanities at the University of California, Berkeley, he taught in the Graduate School of Journalism from 1987 until 1994, the year of his passing.

At age eight Riggs moved with his family to Augusta Georgia Being confronted with racism was not new but an experience in Augusta that denied him recognition for winning a spelling bee had ...

Article

Lawrie Balfour

Reflecting on the death of Marlon Troy Riggs from acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), cultural theorist Kobena Mercer observed, “Independent cinema lost the voice and vision of an important artist at the very moment that he was coming into his own.” At the time of his death, Riggs was at work on Black Is & Black Ain't. This feature-length film, complete by Riggs's collaborators in 1995, chronicled the variety of American identities seen as black.

Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Riggs grew up in a military family, moving from Texas to Georgia to Germany before returning to the United States to attend Harvard University. As an undergraduate he began to explore connections between black and gay identities. His studies led to a senior thesis on the treatment of male homosexuality in literature. After graduating magna cum laude in 1978 Riggs worked briefly at a Texas television station ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

French filmmaker and ethnographer active in Niger, was born on 31 May 1917 in Paris. His father was an adventurous naval officer who had traveled as far as Antarctica. His mother had a deep love of poetry and painting. Their son would combine his parents’ interests in his later life.

The Rouch family moved often in Jean’s early life, and he spent time in Algeria, Morocco, and Germany. In 1937, he entered the École des Ponts et Chausées to study engineering. Rouch did so at the behest of his father rather than out of a real interest in the subject matter. However, Rouch found plenty of opportunities to take other courses outside of engineering and science.

In his last year of studies Rouch met anthropologist Maurice Griaule whose work on Dogon communities in West Africa would later be one of the most well known and controversial examples of French ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

As a pioneer of ethnographic filmmaking, which documents the lives, customs, and cultures of ethnic groups, Jean Rouche developed styles and techniques that influenced a generation of African moviemakers. Rouche's mother was a painter and his father was a naval explorer. Born in Paris, Rouche trained to be an engineer. He graduated from a prestigious Parisian engineering college in 1941 and immediately left Nazi-occupied France for the freer West African colony of Niger.

Rouche was hired to oversee the construction of a road, but lack of equipment halted the project. The engineer, however, had taken an interest in aspects of Songhai culture, including spirit possession ceremonies conducted by African workers he had befriended. Fascinated by the rites and curious to learn more, Rouche returned to France, where he enrolled in a doctoral program in anthropology and studied with the famous ethnographer Marcel Griaule Taking a break from his ...

Article

Barbara A. Desmarais

educator, scholar, and documentary filmmaker, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the elder child of Randolph and Evelyn (Turnipseed) Stakeman. He had one sister, Gail. Dr. Stakeman's father was a building superintendent; his mother was a bookkeeping clerk until 1960. Then, from 1961 to her death in 1993, Evelyn Stakeman fostered dozens of children, including young women and their babies.

Stakeman attended New York City public schools through tenth grade; then completed two years at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. He received his bachelor of arts degree from Wesleyan University in 1971 and his masters from Stanford University in 1976. He completed his PhD in history at Stanford in 1982.

When an undergraduate Dr Stakeman took European American and African history during the same semester Each course covered the same time period allowing him to see relationships between wide ranging ...

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Jeremy Rich

Cameroonian filmmaker, was born on 14 May 1954 in Famleng, Cameroon. He was the oldest of seven children in a family that was not affluent. At the local cinema, Teno loved to watch Indian dramas, Westerns, and karate films. After he completed his primary and secondary education, Teno passed his baccalaureate examinations. He expressed his bitterness about the poverty of his home town and country in his film Vacanes au Pays, in which he documented the crumbling schools and transportation infrastructure of his home region. In 1975, he immigrated to England, where he studied for a year at the Portsmouth Polytechnic University on a scholarship from the British Council. There, he met many left-wing student activists as he improved his command of English. In 1977 he completed his studies of electronics and moved to France He completed a master s degree in communications at the University of ...

Article

Amalia K. Amaki

photographer and film producer, was born in Chicago, Illinois, to William Howard Wallace, a chef and musician, and Margaret Shannon Wallace, a real estate broker. William was the younger of the couple's two children; his older sister, Jacquelyn, was born 9 August 1936. William attended Chicago's public schools, graduating from Betsy Ross Elementary in 1951 and Central YMCA High in 1955.

Wallace's uncle gave him a camera on his tenth birthday, triggering his fascination with photographic images. With money he earned from his paper route, Wallace bought his first developing kit the following year. Three years later his family moved to a new apartment, and their landlord, Anthony Haywood was an accomplished freelance photographer with his own darkroom Noticing Wallace s interest in the medium Haywood took him under his tutelage Guided by Haywood Wallace developed the fundamental technical skills that prepared him for ...

Article

Jeff Loeb

independent filmmaker, playwright, director, actor, professor, and community activist, was born in Junction City, Kansas, the son of Lee Douglas Willmott, a hodcarrier and plastic tender, and Ruth Lee Willmott, a homemaker. Junction City, located in the central part of the state, in many ways owes its existence and takes its character from its proximity to Fort Riley, an army post dating from the 1850s that was home to the Tenth Cavalry, the Buffalo Soldiers, one of two all-black cavalry units created essentially to guard settlers from Indian attack following the Civil War.

Junction City s unusual history helped form Willmott s viewpoint from the beginning Contributing to the early presence of the Buffalo Soldiers in the nineteenth century was a substantial population of African American settlers originally attracted to Kansas as a free state haven for escaped and manumitted slaves As ...