Women of Color-Film Directors
Despite being a GWSS minor I was not familiar with many WOC film director names, even though I heard the names Mira Nair and Trinn-Minh-Ha before (especially in GWSS 3102V). In a quick â€śGoogleâ€? search just over an hour I have found a very respectable list of more than three dozen WOC directors, and found some of their cinematography in the IMDB website (http://www.imdb.com/). Among the directors were:
1. The Vietnamese born American director Trinh T. Minh-ha. A wealth of details about her was available at her website (http://www.trinhminh-ha.com/) and (http://voices.cla.umn.edu/vg/Bios/entries/trinh_t_minhha.html).
From the later website I got the following biography: Trinh T. Minh-ha was born in Vietnam in 1952, and immigrated to the United States in 1970 after studying in both Vietnam and the Philippines. Trinh studied music composition, ethnomusicology, and French literature at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, where she received M.F.A. and Ph.D. degrees. She is currently Chancellor's Distinguished Professor of Women's Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and associate professor of cinema, San Francisco State University. She has also taught at Harvard, Smith, the University of Illinois, and the National Conservatory of Music in Senegal.
Filmmaker, writer, poet, literary theorist, educator, musical composer, and (un/non)ethnographer, Trinh T. Minh-ha builds much of her work around the theme of the "other" (the persona one considers him/herself to be in relation to), challenging cultural theorists' traditional notions of the subject or/subjected duality. She performed three year's worth of ethnographic field research in West Africa the Research Expedition Program of the University of California, Berkeley. This fieldwork led in part to her first film, Reassemblage, which was filmed in Senegal and released in 1982.
She who directed the following movies:
The Fourth Dimension (2001), A Tale of Love (1995), Shoot for the Contents (1992), Surname Viet Given Name Nam (1989), Naked Spaces: Living Is Round (1985), Reassemblage (1983), The Wedding (1982), Calligraphy (1981), San Francisco (1980).
2. (Indian-British) Mira Nair. In the website http://www.english.emory.edu/Bahri/Nair.html I have found the following information: Mira Nair was born in Bhubaneshwar, Orissa to a civil servant in 1957. She went on to attend the University of New Delhi where she studied Sociology and Theater. Dissatisfied with the quality of the education, she applied elsewhere. As result she came to Harvard in 1976 on full scholarship to continue studying Sociology. While at Harvard her focus drifted to documentary filmâ€¦ Mira's first film was Jama Masjid Street Journal which was also her Master's thesis project. This film explores the life of a traditional Muslim community from the Western perspective. Her most acclaimed documentary was India Cabaret. Ultimately, the standards of objectivity and non interference inherent in documentary film proved to be a trying constraintâ€¦. As result she tried her hand at fictional narrative. Her greatest recognition came with her first feature film Salaam, Bombay! She was awarded the Best New Director at the Cannes Film Festival as well as a nomination for best foreign film at the Academy Awards. According to the IMDB website (http://www.imdb.com/), She directed the films (partial list): Migration (2007) The Namesake (2006), Vanity Fair (2004), Monsoon Wedding (2001), Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996), The Perez Family (1995), The Day the Mercedes Became a Hat (1993), Mississippi Masala (1991), Salaam Bombay! (1988), So Far from India (1983), and Jama Masjid Street Journal (1979).
3. (African-American) Camille Billops. Her biography can be found at â€śThe History Makersâ€? website: http://www.thehistorymakers.org/biography/biography.asp?bioindex=1410&category=ArtMakers&occupation=Artist%20%26%20Filmmaker&name=Camille%20Billops.
Billops is an artist and filmmaker, born on August 12, 1933 in Los Angeles, California. Billops' career has consisted of printmaking, sculpture, book illustration and filmmaking. She obtained her B.A. degree from California State University as well as her M.F.A. degree from City College of New York in 1975. Her primary medium is sculpture, and her works are in the permanent collections of the Jersey City Museum in Jersey City, New Jersey and the Museum of Drawers, Bern, Switzerlandâ€¦. In 1982, Billops began her filmmaking career with Suzanne, Suzanne. She followed this promising beginning by directing five more films, including Finding Christa in 1991, which is a highly autobiographical work that garnered the Grand Jury Prize for documentaries at the 1992 Sundance Film Festivalâ€¦ Her other film credits include Older Women and Love in 1987, The KKK Boutique Ain't Just Rednecks in 1994, Take Your Bags in 1998, and A String of Pearls in 2002. Billops produced all of her films with her husband and their film company, Mom and Pop Productions. They have also co-published Artist and Influence, an annual, in 1981 as an extensive journal of the African Americans in the visual, performing and literary arts community.
4. (African-American) Kathleen Collins. I found details on her life on the New York Times website (http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/filmography.html?p_id=232062).
Kathleen Collins was a professor of film history, playwright, screenwriter, and director. Among her films were The Cruz Brothers and Mrs. Malloy (1979) and Losing Ground (1982). Just before she died in 1988, she had finished a novel, play, and film script entitled Conversations With Julie. She was 46.
5. (French/West-Indian) Euzhan Palcy, who also have a personal website at http://www.euzhanpalcy.com/ephome3.html. The almost only biography of her life I could find was located in wikepdia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euzhan_Palcy), which briefly noted that â€śNotable for being the first Black woman to direct a mainstream Hollywood film: A Dry White Season which starred Donald Sutherland and Marlon Brando. She moved to Paris in 1975, and in 1983, won the Silver Lion award for her first film, Rue Cases Negresâ€?. She directed: SimĂ©on (1992), A Dry White Season (1989), Rue cases nĂ¨gres (1983) (Black Shack Alley/ Sugar Cane Alley), Atelier du diable, L' (1982) (The Devil's Workshop).
Overall it was not extremely difficult to find more than forty names of WOC directors, but it did require some active search. . I have found my directors primarily through a syllabus of a film-studies class from England (http://eng-wdixon.unl.edu/syllabi.html). Of these forty plus I chose five, four of whom had an extensive biography easily available. I am sure my work would have been much quicker and effortless if I would loom for white (men) directors; even when I am thinking of which moviesâ€™ names and directors I know at the top of my head- they are all white directors (few of them are women). The point I believe we need to get is that WOC film directors get less media attention, less budgets and artistic freedom than white directors, and that their movies (and biographies) are harder to find.