A magazine for Africans and friends of Africa...Our Voices, Our Vision, Our Culture

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Sisters in Cinema
By Mojisola Sonoiki
A film Review by Mojisola Sonoiki

Sisters in Cinema

Director Yvonne Welbon

2003/USA/62min

Yvonne Welbon's documentary Sisters in Cinema , which brings to light the aspirations, challenges and achievements of African American women filmmakers, is a film whose underbelly is an analysis of the dynamics of racism in America. Interviews, rare archival footage and historical research are combined to explore the development of African American women filmmakers.

Welbon humorously ventures off into the major Hollywood studios in the search of African American women filmmakers. The viewer is given an opportunity to experience her vain search for Sistahs in Cinema. "It's like a black woman does Michael Moore," states Welbon.

Wellbon then takes the viewer through the independent film world and discovers a variety of films directed by African American women outside of Hollywood. Tressie Souders direction of A Woman's Error in 1922 is considered the first film direction by a black woman in the US. Zora Neale Hurston, known for being a writer and anthropologist made ethnographic films documenting life in the south in the early 1920s. Euzhan Palcy a filmmaker from Martinique of Sugar Cane Alley/A Dry White Season fame was the first woman of African descent to direct a Hollywood studio produced feature.

It took Maya Angelou about 25 years to finally gain an opportunity to direct her first feature film. Kasi Lemmon's tells us how she made it into the directors chair of Eves Bayou. She was also the director of The Caveman's Valentine a psychological thriller starring Samuel Jackson. Julie Dash shares with us her struggle of convincing Hollywood studios that there was a market for her film Daughters of the Dust. Not being able to convince them, Ms Dash gathers funding from personal investors and takes 15 years to get her film released in theaters. Coquie Hughes, a young African American woman filmmaker who has made three films, all independently has found that digital filmmaking, is a cheaper way of making film.

Aspiring filmmakers will find this documentary inspiring.

For more information about Sisters in Cinema and the work of the director visit www.sistersincinema.com
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