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Robert N. Anderson

was born on 10 November 1954 in the town of Nanuque, Minas Gerais state, Brazil. It was there that, as an adolescent, he discovered world cinema in the city’s movie theaters and frequented his uncle’s theater company. He later moved to the state capital of Belo Horizonte, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in sociology of education, all the while maintaining his connection with the local film club scene. He moved to São Paulo in 1984, where he later became a doctor of philosophy in communication science at the School of Communication and Art of the University of São Paulo (ECA/USP).

Araújo began his filmmaking career with the mid-length docudrama Memórias de classe (Class Memories, 1989 exploring the role of Afro Brazilians in São Paulo s labor movement This debut effort won the Ford ANPOCS Film Festival award for best screenplay The ...

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SaFiya D. Hoskins

playwright, screenwriter, novelist, filmmaker, educator, was born Kathleen Conwell in Jersey City, New Jersey, daughter of Frank and Loretta Conwell. Her father was employed as a mortician prior to being appointed as the principal of a New Jersey school. Conwell attended Skidmore College in Sarasota Springs, New York, where in 1963 she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Religion. Upon graduating from college she became active with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee's (SNCC) initiative to advance voter registration in the South, where African Americans had been historically discouraged from voting. Conwell attended graduate school in Paris, France, where in 1966 she earned a Master of Arts degree in French Literature and Cinema through the Middlebury College program at the Sorbonne.

Upon completing her graduate studies in Paris Conwell returned to New York where she had attended college and promptly began working ...

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Steven R. Carter

Born Kathleen Conwell in Jersey City, she was the daughter of Frank and Loretta Conwell. Her father, who had worked as a mortician, became the principal of a high school now named after him and the first black New Jersey state legislator. In 1963, after receiving her BA in philosophy and religion from Skidmore College, Collins worked on black southern voter registration for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In 1966 she earned an MA in French literature and cinema through the Middle-bury program at Paris's Sorbonne. Joining the editorial and production staff at a New York City Public Broadcasting Service station, Collins worked as a film editor and began writing stories. In 1974, soon after ending her marriage to Douglas Collins, she became a professor of film history and screenwriting at the City College of New York. Adapting Henry H. Roth's fiction for the screen in The ...

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Jason Philip Miller

filmmaker and screenwriter, was born George Arthur Cundieff in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was one of two children born to John and Christina, who would later appear in one of their son's most well known films. He attended local schools and matriculated at Loyola University in New Orleans, where he studied journalism, but soon changed course and enrolled at the University of Southern California, where he was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, the traditionally black college fraternity, and from which he graduated in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in Religious Studies.

Somewhere along the line Cundieff was bitten by the performance bug. Upon graduating from USC, he began doing stand-up comedy around Los Angeles, where he met and rubbed elbows with some of the young black comics who themselves were soon starring in feature films and television series, particularly the Wayans brothers He also began picking up ...

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Faith Mkwesha-Manyonga

Zimbabwean novelist, scriptwriter, consultant, and film director, was born in 1959 in Mutoko in colonial Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). At the age of two, she left for England with her parents, who were going for further studies, and started her primary education there. In 1965, when she was six, they returned to Rhodesia, where she completed her primary and secondary education at a mission school in Mutare. In 1977, she returned to England to study medicine at Cambridge University, but feeling lonely and alienated, she returned home after three years, without completing her studies, just before the declaration of national independence.

Back in a newly liberated Zimbabwe she worked for a marketing company as a copy editor and then studied psychology at the University of Zimbabwe She was actively involved in the University of Zimbabwe drama club writing and staging plays Dangarembga worked as a teacher after graduating but ...

Article

Natasha Baafi

screenwriter, director, producer, and novelist, was born in Long Island City, New York. Although Dash grew up in New York City, she often visited the South Carolina Sea Islands. Her father and his family were raised in the Gullah culture, and Dash ate Gullah cooking and heard the Gullah language spoken among them. She was inspired by her uncle, St. Julian Bennett Dash—a tenor saxophone player who introduced Dash to his Bolex and the camera equipment he used to document his tours with his band—to make films. The young Dash explored the equipment and began to experiment with photography.

Dash's film career got an early start when she enrolled in a film production workshop at the Studio Museum of Harlem in 1968 At first she thought she had enrolled in a course in photojournalism but she soon learned that it was a motion picture workshop She had accidentally ...

Article

Born and raised in the Queensbridge Housing Projects in Long Island City, Julie Dash stumbled into filmmaking at age seventeen, when she enrolled with a friend in a workshop at the Studio Museum in Harlem. By the age of nineteen she had made her first film, shot with a Super 8 camera using pictures from Jet magazine attached to pipe cleaners. Dash majored in psychology at the City College of New York but graduated in film production. In 1973 she wrote and produced a documentary, Working Models of Success.

After graduation Dash moved to Los Angeles, California, gaining experience working on many film crews. In Los Angeles, she became the youngest fellow ever at the Center for Advanced Film Studies. During her two-year fellowship, Dash adapted an Alice Walker short story, Diary of an African Nun (1977 An experimental dance film that she conceived ...

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Kristen Hatch

Julie Dash is the first African American woman to direct a feature-length film for general theatrical distribution. A stunning portrait of a Gullah family at the turn of the century, Daughters of the Dust has been recognized as among the most important independent films of the twentieth century.

Dash was born in Long Island City, New York, where she grew up in the Queensbridge housing projects. Her father worked as a shipping clerk in the garment center; her mother was a salesperson at Stern’s department store. Dash’s paternal ancestors were from the Sea Islands off the coast of South Carolina, and her childhood was spent amid the distinctive accents and traditions of her Gullah relatives.

Article

Roanne Edwards

Ossie Davis was born in Cogdell, Georgia, the son of a railway engineer, and grew up in Waycross, Georgia. The harassment of his parents by the Ku Klux Klan impelled him early on to become a writer so that he could “truthfully portray the black man's experience.” At Howard University, under the tutelage of drama critic Alain Locke, Davis developed his theatrical talent, performing in a 1941 production of Joy Exceeding Glory with Harlem's Rose McClendon Players. Following his theater debut, however, he received few job offers and for nearly a year found himself living on the street.

Davis never lost his sense of purpose. After serving in the United States Army during World War II, he returned to New York, New York, where he won the title role in Robert Ardrey's play Jeb (1946). In 1948 he married fellow performer Ruby ...

Article

Samuel A. Hay

writer, actor, and director, was born in Cogdell, Georgia, the oldest of four children of Kince Charles Davis, an herb doctor and Bible scholar, and Laura Cooper. Ossie's mother intended to name him “R.C.,” after his paternal grandfather, Raiford Chatman Davis, but when the clerk at Clinch County courthouse thought she said “Ossie,” Laura did not argue with him, because he was white.

Ossie was attacked and humiliated while in high school by two white policemen, who took him to their precinct and doused him with cane syrup. Laughing, they gave the teenager several hunks of peanut brittle and released him. He never reported the incident but its memory contributed to his sensibilities and politics. In 1934 Ossie graduated from Center High School in Waycross Georgia and even though he received scholarships to attend Savannah State College and Tuskegee Institute he did ...

Article

Cassandra Jackson

Born in Cogsdell, Georgia, Ossie Davis grew up in nearby Waycross. He studied at Howard University for three years, then traveled to New York to pursue a career in the theater. With the encouragement of Alain Locke, Davis obtained a position with the Rose McClendon Players of Harlem, while writing in his spare time. The following year, he joined the U.S. Army, serving in the Medical Corps and in Special Services. While stationed in Liberia, he wrote and produced Goldbrickers of 1944, a musical variety show. Discharged in 1945, Davis returned to New York and gained the lead role in the play Jeb, which propelled his stage career. Also starring in the play was Davis's future wife, Ruby Dee, with whom he would continue to costar in plays and later in film. Among Davis's stage, film, and television credits are The Joe Louis Story ...

Article

Niambi Lee-Kong

actor, playwright, producer, director, and civil rights activist. Ossie Davis, though commonly known for his work in the dramatic arts, was a humanitarian and activist who used his talents and fame to fight for the humane treatment of his people and for recognition of their contributions to society.

Raiford Chatman Davis was born in Cogdell, Georgia, to Kince Charles Davis and Laura Cooper Davis. Though neither parent was formally educated, Davis's father was a preacher and a railroad construction engineer. Davis's name “Ossie” came from a clerk's misunderstanding the pronunciation of the initials “R. C.” when recording his birth.

In 1935 Davis graduated from Central High School in Waycross, Georgia. He then attended Howard University, where he met Alain Locke a professor of philosophy who had been the first black Rhodes scholar Locke recognized Ossie s talent introduced him to black theater and encouraged ...

Article

Hilary Mac Austin

Suzanne de Passe learned from her mentor, Berry Gordy, that “a business based on principles is more important than a business based on revenue.” She has held true to that motto. Amazingly, in the cutthroat, white-male-dominated world of Hollywood, she has not only survived but succeeded magnificently.

One of the first and still one of the only African American women powerbrokers in the television and film businesses, Suzanne Celeste de Passe grew up middle-class in Harlem. Her parents, both West Indian, were divorced when she was three. Her mother was a schoolteacher and her father worked for Seagrams. He remarried six years after the divorce and is credited with providing de Passe with a strong role model. De Passe attended an elite, integrated private school in Manhattan, the New Lincoln School. While still young, she began modeling clothes designed by DeVera Edwards.

De Passe entered Syracuse University as ...

Article

Claranne Perkins

music executive, television and film producer, and screenwriter, was born in New York, New York. Her father worked for Seagram's and her mother was a schoolteacher. Her paternal grandfather was a physician in Harlem.

Her parents divorced when she was three but managed to maintain a supportive environment for their daughter. She spent the week with her mother and the weekend with her father. He remarried when de Passe was nine, and the three adults formed a supportive alliance that continued to nurture de Passe.

She lived the elite life of prominent black families in New York. She summered on Martha's Vineyard; attended the private, progressive, and integrated New Lincoln School; graduated from Manhattan High School; and entered Syracuse University in 1964 She found the university and its extremely small African American student body not to her liking so transferred to Manhattan Community College to major ...

Article

Jenny Murray

Algerian writer and filmmaker, was born Fatma Zohra Imalhayène in Cherchell, Algeria, on 30 June 1936 to Tahar Imalhayène and Bahia Sahraoui. Her father was a teacher in the French colonial school in Mouzaïaville in the Mitidja region, and her mother was a descendant of the Berkani tribe. Djebar attended the school where her father taught, and from 1946 to 1953 she studied classics and English at the French secondary school in Blida. In October 1953, after passing the Baccalauréat examination, she enrolled in the Lycée Bugeaud in Algiers for the hypokhâgne, the first year of a preparatory course for entrance examinations to the École Normale Supérieure. Djebar moved to Paris in October 1954 to complete Première Supérieure in literature Greek and Latin at the Lycée Fénelon The following year she was offered a place at the prestigious École Normale Supérieure de Sèvres and from May to ...

Article

Known for her works about women in North Africa’s Islamic societies, Assia Djebar is one of a generation of female writers and directors who provide a view of history in which women have a central role. Primary concerns in her work include voice, memory, and language. Although Arabic was the language of her family, Djebar was educated in French because France, which controlled Algeria at the time, did not allow the teaching of Arabic. Today she writes in French, striving to make the language her own and not that of her country’s colonizers.

Djebar was born Fatima-Zohra Imalayen in Cherchell, a small coastal town west of Algiers, Algeria to a schoolteacher father and a mother who died while Djebar was a child She finished her early studies in Algeria then became the first Algerian student to be admitted to the prestigious Lïécole Normale Supérieure de Sèvres in France ...

Article

Diane Todd Bucci

journalist, music critic, author, filmmaker, and television producer, was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He attended St. John's University, and while there began his writing career at the black newspaper the Amsterdam News, where he was a college intern. During this time he also contributed to the music trade journal Billboard. After graduating from St. John's in 1979, George worked as a freelance writer and lived with his mother and sister in a poverty-stricken neighborhood in Brooklyn. It did not take him long, though, to begin what would prove to be a flourishing career. George found employment as a black music editor, first for Real World magazine from 1981 to 1982, and then at Billboard from 1982 to 1989. He moved on to write a successful column entitled “Native Son” for the Village Voice, from 1989 to ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

Haile Gerima was born in Gondar, Ethiopia. As a child, he acted in his father’s troupe, performing across Ethiopia. In 1967 Gerima moved to the United States and two years later enrolled in the University of California at Los Angeles drama school. There he became familiar with the ideas of black American leader Malcolm X and wrote plays about slavery and black militancy. After reading the revolutionary theory of Third Cinema, however, Gerima began to experiment with film. Gerima returned to Ethiopia in 1974 to film Harvest: 3,000 Years his first full length film and the only one of his works to be shot in Africa Although famine and the recent military overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie I placed severe restrictions on the film crew the final result was a sophisticated examination through the story of a village that finally overthrows its feudal landlord of the centuries ...

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 ...

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Liliana Obregón

Sara Gómez grew up in Cuba and initially worked as a journalist. In the 1960s she decided to change her profession and began studying film at the Instituto Cubano de Arte e Industria Cinematográficas (Cuban Institute for the Arts and Film Industry), or ICAIC. Since its establishment in 1959, the ICAIC had become an umbrella for the evolution of Cuban cinema under the guidelines of the political and ideological transformations of the 1960s. The films produced during this era became known as Imperfect Cinema because the directors used unconventional techniques to differentiate their films from the polished image of Hollywood productions. Gómez, together with other important Cuban filmmakers such as Sergio Giral, worked in this environment as an assistant director to renowned filmmakers Jorge Fraga, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, and Agnes Varda.

After gaining experience with such prominent directors Gómez ventured out on her own She ...