MEET BPM's 40

MEDIA GAME CHANGERS

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40 YEARS OF CHANGE

In observance of our 40th Anniversary, BPM salutes 40 game changers whose dedication to sharing compelling Black stories has transformed the public media landscape. Throughout June, we will pay special tribute these trailblazers. The festivities will culminate June 23-25, when you're invited to join us for our second National Black Media Story Summit, featuring a series of virtual events that celebrate our past and build excitement about our collective future. Scroll down to meet our Game-Changing 40! Then go here to revisit our 40-year history.

THE GAME CHANGERS

STORYTELLERS

Orlando Bagwell

Storyteller

Lillian Benson

Storyteller

Brittany Clemons

Storyteller

Julie Dash

Storyteller

Lewis Erskine

Storyteller

Rodney Evans

Storyteller

dream hampton

Storyteller

Thomas Allen Harris

Storyteller

Charles Hobson

Storyteller

Byron Hurt

Storyteller

Orlando Bagwell

Storyteller

Orlando Bagwell is a documentarian born and raised in Baltimore. He earned a bachelor’s in film and a master’s in broadcast journalism, both from Boston University. After completing his master’s, he  joined Boston’s WGBH-TV, as a film producer. In 1988, he became staff producer for PBS’ Frontline and Running with Jesse, documenting the presidential bid of the Reverend Jesse Louis Jackson Sr. The following year, he launched Boston-based, Roja Productions, Inc., a media company through which he also produced Roots of Resistance: A Story of the Underground Railroad. From 1991 to 1994, Orlando worked as executive vice president for PBS’ Eyes on the Prize, the docuseries that told the story of the Civil Rights Movement. He next won critical acclaim, and Alfred duPont and Peabody awards for episodes of Blackside’s Mississippi: Is this America? and Ain’t Scared of Your Jails. The following year, he moved to WGBH Educational Foundation were he served as the executive producer and later produced Africans in America: America’s Journey through Slavery. In 2004, Orlando went on to assume the helm of Ford Foundation’s Media Arts and Culture where he has worked with the unit’s director and overseen international operations to accomplish the foundation’s goals.

Lillian Benson

Storyteller

Lillian E. Benson is a veteran film and video editor, whose work celebrates the lives and contributions of people of African descent. She has worked in both documentary and narrative genres. Lillian started her career in New York where she worked as an assistant editor on educational programming, sports and independent features. In 1990, her editing work on the landmark civil rights series Eyes on the Prize II (1990), with the late producer Jackie Shearer, was nominated for an Emmy, cementing her reputation as a documentary editor.

Lillian’s contributions to films have garnered five Emmy nominations, four Peabody Awards, and numerous other honors. Get in The Way – The Journey of John Lewis (2017) and Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise (2016 ) are two of her recent documentaries. Beyond the Steps – Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (2006), A Job at Ford’s (1993), and The Massachusetts 54th Colored Regiment (1991) are among her personal favorites. Lillian is the first African American female member of American Cinema Editors, an honorary editing society. She is also a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She is a recipient of the Motion Picture Editors Guild 2017 Fellowship and Service Award, the Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Pratt Institute Distinguished Alumni Award, 2017.

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Brittany Clemons

Storyteller

Brittany Clemons is a development producer at Jigsaw Productions. Prior to her work in development, she contributed to documentary television as a story producer and associate producer. The majority of her work has been featured on PBS, including Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s Emmy and Peabody Award-winning, six-part series The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, and the celebrity genealogy series Finding Your Roots.

Brittany has also served as a senior associate producer on NBC’s two-hour documentary special Hope and Fury: MLK, the Movement and the Media, and was a story producer on AMC’s six-part documentary series Hip Hop: The Songs That Shook America. Brittany is passionate about diversity and representation in front of and behind the camera, as well as creating compelling narratives with nuanced characters that amplify the marginalized voices of women and POC.

Julie Dash

Storyteller

Julie Dash is a writer, producer, and director, who was born in New York. She holds a bachelor’s from City College, and a master’s in film and television from the University of California-Los Angeles. Prior to graduate school, Dash was a conservatory fellow at the American Film Institute.

Dash’s work with film began in 1969, at Studio Museum of Harlem’s cinematography workshop. She attended film school at the Leonard Davis Center for the Performing Arts, producing Working Models for Success, a documentary for the New York Urban Coalition. She moved West, attending Center for Advanced Film Studies and the American Film Institute, in Los Angeles. In 1975, Dash directed Four Women, based on Nina Simone’s song, and in ’77, won student filmmaking recognition from the Director’s Guild Award for Diary of an African Nun. Next Illusions, a short, earned Best Film jury prize for Best Film of the Decade by the Black Filmmaker Foundation.

In 1991, Daughters of the Dust, film, original story, and screenplay that won Dash’s highest acclaim which accompanied its American theatrical release, the first full-length general release by an African American woman in the United States, at the time.  The Newark Black Film Festival also honored the film as among the most important African American cinematic achievements of the 20th century, while The Library of Congress, in 2004, added the work to the National Film Registry, distinguishing film with 400 other American-made films to be preserved as National Treasures.

Lewis Erskine

Storyteller

Lewis Erskine was born African American in New York City and grew up in America. He attended Pitzer College and holds a bachelor’s in psychology from New York University’s College of Arts and Sciences. Listening to music on 1970’s Black radio and watching The Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre grow, honed his ear and eye. One of his first jobs was mixing sound for clubs, concerts, and records –yes, vinyl. For Lewis, being paid to edit is like being paid to have fun. He has been having this fun since 1985 and is thankful to have been invited and welcomed into the world of long form documentary by St. Clair Bourne. Over the years, he has worked with Walter Cronkite, Michael Moore, Ken Burns, Shola Lynch, Bill Moyers, and Stanley Nelson. Lewis has a beautiful son, prefers poetry to prose, and — though he no longer has a boat — sails whenever he has time, great weather, and someone with one permit.

Rodney Evans

Storyteller

Rodney Evans has been making award-winning films and videos for over 20 years. He is the writer, director and producer of the feature film Brother to Brother, which won the special jury prize in drama at the Sundance Film Festival. The film had its European premiere at The Berlin International Film Festival and garnered four Independent Spirit Award nominations including Best First Film, Best First Screenplay, Best Debut Performance for Anthony Mackie, and Best Supporting Male Performance for Roger Robinson.

Rodney has received funding from The Guggenheim Foundation, The Ford Foundation’s JustFilms Program, The Creative Capital Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Independent Television Service (ITVS), Black Public Media (BPM) and The New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA). His second narrative feature, The Happy Sad, has played at more than 30 film festivals worldwide, and had its US theatrical premiere in August 2013. His latest feature-length film, Vision Portraits, had its world premiere in the documentary feature competition at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival. It later won the Jury Award for Outstanding Documentary at Frameline-San Francisco International LGBT+ Film Festival and the Award for Artistic Achievement at Outfest. The Happy Sad was released theatrically in major cities across the US beginning with a two-week engagement at Metrograph, in New York City, followed by one-week engagements in LA, SF, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, DC, and Brooklyn. Rodney was recently honored with the 2019 Frameline Award for Career Achievement and is a Sundance Momentum Fellow for 2020.

dream hampton

Storyteller

dream hampton (all lowercase in tribute to feminist author Gloria Watkins also known as bell hooks) is an award-winning filmmaker and writer from Detroit. Her most recent works include: the Frameline feature documentary Treasure (2015); the HBO feature documentary, It’s A Hard Truth Ain’t It, (2019); the BET docuseries Finding Justice (2019), and Lifetime’s Emmy nominated Surviving R. Kelly (2019), which broke ratings records and had wide and far-reaching impact. She is the 2019 recipient of Ms. Foundation’s Gloria Award and that same year was named among Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.

In the 1990s, dream attained prominence as a hip-hop journalist who, employing a literary style and nuanced awareness, intimately profiled leading rappers. Around 2000, she shifted mainly to filmmaking, and has often applied it toward social activism. She was executive producer of the 2019 documentary series Surviving R. Kelly, which broke ratings records, and is alleged to be the source of charges in the R&B singer’s recent criminal prosecution.

Thomas Allen Harris

Storyteller

Thomas Allen Harris uses film, video, photography, and performance to explore family and identity in a participatory model of filmmaking that he has been pioneering since 1990. His deeply personal films have received acclaim at international film and art festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Toronto, FESPACO, Outfest, and Melbourne Art Festival. The films have been broadcast on PBS, AfroPOP, Sundance Channel, ARTE, CBC, SBN and NZT, and screened and exhibited at MoMA, Whitney Museum of American Art’s 1995 Biennale, the Corcoran Gallery, the Long Beach Museum of Art, and the Gwangju Biennale.

In 2019, Thomas created and hosted the PBS series, Family Pictures USA, a new format of television that examines America through the lens of the family photographic album. The series grew out of his touring roadshow Digital Diaspora Family Reunion (DDFR), which uses family photographs to transform audiences into storytellers. DDFR has toured both nationally and internationally to more than 60 cities, bringing thousands of people together in live events and through sharing social media, television, articles, newspapers, and radio content to garner more than 70 million impressions worldwide.

Thomas has received numerous awards including an NAACP Image Award, the Fund for Santa Barbara Social Justice Award, an Africa Movie Academy Award, as well as Guggenheim, United States Artist, Rockefeller, and Sundance fellowships. His work has won nominations for Peabody, Emmy, and Independent Spirit awards, and he is a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. A graduate of Harvard College and the Whitney ISP, Thomas is on the faculty at Yale University.

Charles Hobson

Storyteller

Charles Hobson (June 23, 1936 February 13, 2020) was an Emmy award-winning producer who helped shatter racial stereotypes by delivering a Black perspective that had been missing from early television programming. The Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, resident was instrumental in the success of the groundbreaking series Inside Bedford-Stuyvesant and Like It Is, which introduced White audiences to everyday life in Black communities.

Charles was the first African American producer of WABC-TV’s Like It Is (1968-2011), an early public affairs program focused on minority issues, which won seven Emmy awards. In the late 1970s, he was named senior vice president for international co-productions at WETA in Washington, DC, where he produced the 13-week PBS series From Jumpstreet: A Story of Black Music (1980) and the nine-part PBS-BBC co-production The Africans (1986). In 1989, he was named director of market planning for WNET and returned to New York City.

In 1996, Charles taught film in Munich as a Fulbright scholar. In the 1980s he began Vanguard Documentaries, which produced Porgy and Bess: An American Voice (1998) and Harlem in Montmartre: Paris Jazz (2009) for Great Performances on PBS, and Treasures of New York: The Flatiron Building (2014) for WNET. In 1982, he told The New York Times Magazine, “My success is based on coming up with interesting, culturally redeeming projects and finding the money and staff to oversee the production and distribute the program … I’ve made a lot of progress. It makes you feel good when you realize that you can succeed in their system.”

Byron Hurt

Storyteller

Byron Hurt is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, writer, and anti-sexist activist. He is also the former host of the Emmy-nominated series, Reel Works with Byron Hurt. His documentary, Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes (2006), premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was broadcast nationally on PBS’ Emmy award-winning series Independent Lens.

Byron’s latest film, Soul Food Junkies (2013), won the CNN Best Documentary Award at the American Black Film Festival and best documentary at the Urbanworld Film Festival in New York City. Soul Food Junkies aired nationally on PBS’ Emmy Award-winning series Independent Lens in January and April 2013. A member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated, Byron’s next film is called Hazing: How Badly Do You Want In?

 

Jacquie Jones

Storyteller

Avon Kirkland

Storyteller

Shola Lynch

Storyteller

Anthony Marshall

Storyteller

Sam Pollard

Storyteller

Yoruba Richen

Storyteller

Marlon Riggs

Storyteller

Llewellyn Smith

Storyteller

Yvonne Welbon

Storyteller

Jacquie Jones

Storyteller

Jacquie Jones (April 28, 1965 – January 28, 2018) was a Peabody Award-winning writer, director and producer of documentary films. Her credits include the Peabody-winning 180 Days: A Year Inside an American High School (2013); Behind Closed Doors: Sex in the 20th Century; and The World Before Us. She executive produced several installments of Independent Lens, Frontline and POV, and executive produced seven seasons of BPM’s AfroPop: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange. Jacquie also created media for  the National Civil Rights Museum and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. In addition to filmmaking, she created several groundbreaking projects, events and festivals.

Jacquie earned a bachelor’s at Howard University in 1987, and a master’s in documentary filmmaking at Stanford University in 1995. After graduate school, she was hired by WGBH as a producer, and in 1999 was appointed senior vice president of ROJA Productions. In 2005, she was named the executive director of the National Black Programming Consortium (now Black Public Media), where she established herself as a leader in the evolving digital media landscape. The Katrina Project, the Ford Foundation-funded Masculinity Project, and NMI: Africa were all launched under her leadership. Jacquie also founded BPM’s New Media Institute in 2006, and the Public Media Corps in 2009. A Revson Fellow at Columbia University and a scholar-in-residence at the American University, she served on the boards of the Integrated Media Association, California Newsreel,  Stanford’s Committee on Black Performing Arts, Grantmakers in Film and Electronic Media, and the community advisory board of WHUT-TV.

Avon Kirkland

Storyteller

Avon Kirkland graduated from Clark Atlanta University and Washington University in St. Louis with a doctorate in chemistry, in 1964. After working as a scientist and publishing executive, he decided to pursue an unlikely career in television in 1974. His goal as a producer, director, and writer was to counter negative commercial and network depictions of African Americans.

Avon’s first production was Up & Coming (1978), a groundbreaking, 25-part drama series, set in San Francisco that focused on the struggles of a fictional, middle-class, African American family. The award-winning series was the first of its kind to be broadcast in prime time television and featured Esther Rolle and, then newcomer, Danny Glover. In 1982, he founded New Images Productions and created, co-wrote and produced Booker, a one-hour drama based on the childhood of Booker T. Washington, which aired nationally on PBS and subsequently on the Disney Channel, BBC, and BBC South Africa. Avon’s other productions have included: Simple Justice, a docudrama about Thurgood Marshall; Street Soldiers, a chronicle of a year in the life of San Francisco’s celebrated Omega Boys Club; and Ralph Ellison: An American Journey, which he wrote and directed. In 2010, Avon executive produced Sam Cooke: Crossing Over, which was broadcast to the fourth largest audience on PBS during the week it aired. Among the many honors he has received, Avon is proudest of the honorary doctorate in humane letters bestowed on him by Morehouse College in 2005. He is now retired and lives in Berkeley, California.

Shola Lynch

Storyteller

Shola Lynch is an acclaimed and award-winning filmmaker. She holds a master’s in American history and public history management from the University of California-Riverside as well as a master’s in journalism from Columbia University. She makes films about audacious women, audacious Black women in particular. Shola is best known for her documentaries Chisholm ‘72 – Unbought & Unbossed, and Free Angela & All Political Prisoners. Chisholm ’72 premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and aired on PBS’s POV series. It was twice nominated for the Independent Spirit Award and is a winner of the prestigious Peabody Award. Free Angela & All Political Prisoners received critical acclaim, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, and won the 2014 NAACP Image Award for Excellence for Best Documentary Feature.

Shola has produced and scripted stories that have aired on BET, CNN, ESPN, HBO Sports, TV One, and PBS. In 2013, The Sundance Institute selected her as one of five women to be mentored in their prestigious Women’s Filmmaker Initiative. In 2016, she was selected to the documentary jury of the Sundance Film Festival. Shola is a recipient of the prestigious Creative Capital Award for her first scripted film in which the lead character is, of course, a Black woman. In 2016, the filmmaker was invited to become a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In addition to her work in film, Shola is a curator for The Moving Image and Recorded Sound (MIRS) Division archive at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, where she hopes to inspire an army of storytellers, from students and scholars to artists of all kinds, as she believes in the value of preserving history and its storytelling power.

Anthony Marshall

Storyteller

Anthony Marshall began his media career as a teenage Hip Hop dancer. Together with high school friend Danny Castro, he created the Lyricist Lounge in 1991. What began as an intimate gathering of upcoming artists and old-school legends quickly evolved into one of Manhattan’s hottest stages and perhaps the longest running Hip Hop showcase brand. As co-founder, Anthony was instrumental in launching the careers of recording artists who went on to become superstars, including Eminem, Mos Def, the Black Eyed Peas, The Notorious BIG, Diddy (Sean Combs), and others. Anthony went on to help build Current TV, the first user-generated TV network, which helped create a market for short-form content online and in traditional TV.

Anthony’s latest enterprise is Snake Nation, a disruptive fintech and media company focused on connecting millennials to the creative economy. Based in Atlanta, USA and Cape Town, South Africa, the company is an authentic social platform that helps millennial creators build their audience, distribute product and monetize their work using mobile ad revenue, distribution revenue, e-commerce and crypto currency.
Snake Nation is helping to inspire, incubate and launch creative products from around the world with financial solutions that Anthony believes are revolutionizing the way content creators generate wealth. The result, he says is “worldwide disruption, financial and cultural inclusion.

Sam Pollard

Storyteller

Sam Pollard is an accomplished feature film and television video editor, and documentary producer/director. His first assignment as a documentary producer came in 1989 for Henry Hampton’s Blackside production, Eyes on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads (1990). He received an Emmy for one of his episodes in that series. Eight years later, he returned to Blackside as co-executive producer/producer for Hampton’s final documentary series, I’ll Make Me a World: Stories of African-American Artists and Community. Sam received a Peabody Award for his contribution to that series.

Between 1990 and 2010, Sam edited several Spike Lee films: Mo’ Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Girl 6, Clockers, and Bamboozled. He and Spike also co-produced Four Little Girls, a feature-length documentary about the 1963 Birmingham church bombings that was nominated for an Academy Award, and When the Levees Broke, a four-part HBO documentary that won numerous awards, including a Peabody and three Emmy awards. In 2010, Sam co-produced and supervised the edit on the follow-up to Levees: If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise. Since 2012, he has produced/directed Slavery by Another Name, which competed at the Sundance Festival; August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand (2015), and Two Trains Runnin’ (2016), which premiered at the Full Frame Film Festival. His film Sammy Davis Jr., I’ve Gotta Be Me, produced/directed for American Masters, premièred at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.

Yoruba Richen

Storyteller

Yoruba Richen is an award-winning documentary filmmaker who has directed films in the US and abroad, including Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia. Her work has been featured on PBS, New York Times Op Doc, Frontline Digital, New York Magazine’s website, The Cut, The Atlantic, and Field of Vision. Her last film The Green Book: Guide to Freedom was broadcast on the Smithsonian Channel to record-setting viewership and was awarded the Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking. Yoruba’s previous feature documentary, The New Black won multiple festival awards and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and a GLAAD Media Award. It was broadcast on PBS’s Independent Lens. Her previous film Promised Land, won the Fledgling Fund award for social issue documentary and was broadcast on POV. Yoruba won a Clio award for her short film about the Grammy-nominated singer Andra Day. She has also won the Creative Promise Award at Tribeca All Access® and was a Sundance Institute fellow.

Yoruba is a featured TED speaker, a Fulbright fellow, a Guggenheim fellow, and a 2016 recipient of the Chicken & Egg Breakthrough Filmmaker Award. She was chosen for The Root 100’s Most Influential African Americans Under 45 among the year’s most significant moments and themes. She also directs the documentary program at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.

Marlon Riggs

Storyteller

Marlon Troy Riggs (February 3, 1957 – April 5, 1994) was an American filmmaker, educator (professor), poet, and gay rights activist. He produced, wrote, and directed several documentary films, including the Emmy winning Ethnic Notions (1987), Teddy winning Tongues Untied (1989), Peabody winning Color Adjustment ( 1992), and the IDA and Sundance award-winning Black is…Black Ain’t (1995). Marlon created aesthetically innovative and socially provocative films that examine past and present representations of race and sexuality in America.

Marlon’s parents were civilian employees of the U.S. military. His early years were transient, as the family traveled to wherever the military needed them. After graduating from Ansbach American High School in Katterbach, Germany, where he was student body president, Marlon studied history at Harvard University on a full scholarship. He graduated magna cum laude in 1978. After working at a Texas television station for a year, he enrolled at the University of California-Berkeley, where he earned a master’s in journalism in 1981, specializing in historical documentary filmmaking. Upon graduation, he secured a job at a local public television station. In 1987, he was hired to teach part-time at Berkeley, where he went on to become a full-time filmmaking instructor and eventually earned tenure.

Marlon’s work won critical acclaim in the U.S. and abroad, but it also riled some groups, especially members of the religious right. In 1988, he was diagnosed with HIV. He continued to teach and work on his films, even as his health deteriorated. The virus ultimately ended his life on April 5, 1994. The Marlon Riggs Collection is now housed at Stanford University Libraries.

Llewellyn Smith

Storyteller

Llewellyn Smith’s filmography focuses on stories of history and science that illuminate social inequality and social change. He is the recipient of Peabody and duPont-Columbia awards, and other honors. The many groundbreaking projects Llewellyn has produced or contributed to include Eyes on The Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years (1987); Race: The Power of An Illusion (2003); Reconstruction: The Second Civil War (2004); Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? (2008); Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness (2010); American Denial (2015); Wounded Places: Confronting PTSD In America’s Shell-Shocked Cities (2014), and Slavery in Effect (2016).

As the first story editor for PBS’s American Experience (1988) Llewellyn was central in origination, development, and acquisition of more than 70 programs for the acclaimed series, and was project director for the Emmy award-winning series Africans In America: America’s Journey Through Slavery (1997). He directed and produced the final episode Judgment Day. For the PBS science series NOVA, he produced and directed Forgotten Genius (2007), the award-winning profile of African American chemist and activist Percy Julian. Poisoned Water (2017), an examination of the water crisis in Flint, Mich., won Llewellyn the AAAS Kavli International Science Journalism Award for best investigative television. His latest NOVA documentary Cuba’s Cancer Hope (2020) tells why some American cancer patients defy the US embargo to seek lifesaving immunotherapy treatment in Cuba, treatments which are currently unavailable in the US. His production company, BlueSpark Collaborative, is based in New Orleans and Boston. He consults on documentary and media projects, and remains dedicated to supporting emerging talent.

Yvonne Welbon

Storyteller

Yvonne Welbon is a senior creative consultant at Chicken & Egg Pictures. She is an award-winning filmmaker and the founder & CEO of Sisters in Cinema, a Chicago-based nonprofit. Yvonne has produced and distributed more than 20 films including Living with Pride: Ruth Ellis @100, winner of 10 best documentary awards; and Sisters in Cinema, a documentary on the history of Black women feature-film directors. Her work has been broadcast on PBS, Starz/Encore, TV-ONE, IFC, Bravo, the Sundance Channel, BET, HBO, Netflix, iTunes, and

screened in more than a hundred film festivals around the world. Projects in development include: The Spies Who Loved Me, a thrilling exposé on surveillance, which focuses on the six-years Yvonne lived in Taipei, Taiwan; and American Pride, a Black lesbian’s coming-of-age episodic series. She has taught at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and chaired the Journalism and Media Studies Department at Bennett College, in New York. Raised in an Afro-Honduran household on the South Side of Chicago, Yvonne holds a bachelor’s from Vassar College, a master’s from the Art Institute of Chicago, a doctorate from Northwestern University. She is also a graduate of the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women.

EMERGING MEDIA

Stephanie Dinkins

Emerging Media

Shari Frilot

Emerging Media

Opeyemi Olukemi

Emerging Media

Jake Sally

Emerging Media

Kamal Sinclair

Emerging Media

Stephanie Dinkins

Emerging Media

Stephanie Dinkins is a transmedia artist who creates platforms for dialog about artificial intelligence (AI) as it intersects race, gender, aging, and our future histories. She is particularly driven to work with communities of color to co-create more inclusive, fair and ethical AI ecosystems.

Stephanie’s art employs lens-based practices, emerging technologies and community engagement to confront questions of bias in AI, consciousness, data sovereignty and social equity. Investigations into the contradictory histories, traditions, knowledge bases and philosophies that form/in-form society at large underpin her thought and art production.

Stephanie holds an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art and is an alumna of the Whitney Independent Studies Program. She exhibits and publicly advocates for inclusive AI internationally at a broad spectrum of community, private and institutional venues, by design. She is a 2019 Creative Capital grantee as well as a 2018/29 Soros Equality fellow, Data and Society Research Institute fellow and a 2018 Sundance New Frontiers Story Lab fellow. Past residencies include Eyebeam, Pioneer Works Tech Lab, NEW INC, Blue Mountain Center, The Laundromat Project, Santa Fe Art Institute and Art/Omi.

The New York Times recently featured Stephanie in its pages as an AI Influencer. Apple Inc. recognized her research and community-centered efforts by featuring her as a local hero in the “Behind the Mac” ad campaign (Brooklyn, N.Y., edition). Her work has also drawn the attention of several popular arts and technology publications as well as podcasts.

Shari Frilot

Emerging Media

Shari Frilot is a senior programmer for Sundance Film Festival and the chief curator of the New Frontier program.

In New Frontier, she has created an experience where film, art, and multimedia technology coincide to hatch new ways to tell stories. Her career in cinema began in the 1990s with her indie documentary Black Nations/Queer Nations? She served as director of the MIX festival in New York, co-founded MIX Brazil and MIX Mexico, and was the co-director of programming for Outfest before aligning with Sundance. A filmmaker, curator and festival programmer for events including MIX International Festivals and LA’s Outfest, Shari also has been a pioneer in the development of immersive cinematic environments, and the creative force behind New Frontier since its inception.

Shari is an alumna of Harvard/Radcliffe University, and the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program.

Opeyemi Olukemi

Emerging Media

Opeyemi Olukemi is an interactive storytelling expert. Throughout her career as an interactive producer, funder and public programmer, she has created spaces for interdisciplinary artists, communities, and content teams to experiment with and create innovative content. Opeyemi is an advocate for technological equity and eliminating bias from social innovation and is also deeply invested in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. She is vice president of digital production and innovation at American Documentary’s award-winning independent nonfiction film series, POV.

Before joining POV, Opeyemi was the senior director of interactive programs for Tribeca Film Institute, where she oversaw the TFI New Media and TAA Prototype Funds and led the institute’s interactive programs. She also led the Tribeca Hacks program to the global stage through 21 distinct events. Opeyemi began her career in the tech industry as a producer for ScrollMotion, where she oversaw teams of designer’s programmers, and third-party vendors to produce new media applications for clients such as Disney, O: The Oprah Magazine, and Genentech.

Opeyemi has served on numerous festival juries and has mentored through the IDFA’s Doc Academy, New Museum’s NEW INC and Oculus’ VR for Good. She has served as an assistant professor of integrated media at Brooklyn College’s Barry R. Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema and is a Rockwood (Ford Foundation) JustFilms fellow.

Jake Sally

Emerging Media

Jake Sally is an Emmy-nominated producer, public speaker, XR industry-leader, and champion of independent artists. He is dedicated to building the pipeline, vernacular and stories of the emerging VR/AR ecosystem for audiences worldwide. The Denver-born trailblazer oversees content development at RYOT, Verizon’s internal content innovation company. With nearly a decade of experience working in the entertainment industry and half a decade working in immersive entertainment, he works with artists and technologists to alter and improve the way stories are told with next-generation technology.

Jake’s  work has appeared at Super Bowl LII, in textbooks and cultural festivals including Cannes, Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, Sheffield and others. He has earned the prestigious Peabody Futures of Media Award and SXSW’s Virtual Cinema Jury Award for Storytelling. Many of his projects have been exhibited across the globe, including at the Barbican in London. Jake was the creative producer for the United Nation General Assembly’s first use of projection mapping for its Climate Action Summit. He is now working in partnership with Time magazine and executive producer Viola Davis to digitally recreate the historic March on Washington — with a photoreal Martin Luther King delivering his “I Have a Dream Speech”— for a traveling virtual reality museum exhibition on civil rights.

Kamal Sinclair

Emerging Media

Kamal Sinclair is making the world more beautiful as the executive director of the Guild of Future Architects, supporting independent artists as a senior consultant for Sundance Institute’s Future of Culture Initiative, and making art through a family creative practice at Sinclair Futures. She also serves as an external advisor to the MacArthur Foundation’s Journalism and Media Program; as a creative advisor to For Freedoms, the largest collective art project in US history; as a member of Sharon Chang’s Dream Office of Imaginary Friends; and as an advisory board member of MIT’s Center for Advanced Virtuality and Eyebeam.

Previously, Kamal served for seven years as director of Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Labs Program, which supports artists working at the convergence of film, art, media, and technology. During that period, she consulted for the Ford Foundation’s JustFilms program on research projects aimed at furthering equality in emerging media, which resulted in Making a New Reality. Kamal got her start in emerging media as an artist and producer on Question Bridge: Black Males. Part of The Question Bridge Project, she and her collaborators launched their project with an interactive website and curriculum, published a book and exhibited in over 60 museums and festivals.

MEDIA EXECUTIVES & CURATORS

Mahen Bonetti

Curator

Robert Byrd

Philanthropist

Mignon Clyburn

Executive

Rhea Combs

Curator

Jacqueline Glover

Executive

Mable Haddock

Curator

Maori Holmes

Curators

Michelle Materre

Executive

Marita Rivero

Executive

Noland Walker

Executive

Mahen Bonetti

Curator

Founder of African American Film Festival, Inc. (AFF), and executive director of the New York African Film Festival (NYAFF), Mahen Bonetti’s singular goal has been to give a voice to African filmmakers worldwide. For 30 years she has worked tirelessly to develop platforms for their work, including NYAFF, America’s first film festival exclusively devoted to presenting works by directors of African descent, with partners Film at Lincoln Center and BAMcinématek; the country’s first African film national travelling series; and film, community and education programs internationally.

Under Mahen’s stewardship, AFF has given numerous filmmakers — including Mahamat Haroun, Jean Marie Téno, Lupita Nyong’o, Tunde Kelani and Oscar-nominated director Abderrahmane Sissako — their first introduction to U.S. audiences; published several anthologies of conversations with African directors; and developed the world’s largest digital database on African film.

Born in Sierra Leone, Bonetti has served on juries and panels for the United Nations Development Program, UNICEF, Pan African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO), Human Rights Watch International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council of the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, and International Emmy Awards. In 2010 the French government honored her with the prestigious Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) for promoting French culture, exemplifying her global impact. That same year, Bonetti was featured in Vanity Fair for building NYAFF into the leading American showcase for African movies. In 2018, Bonetti was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Robert Byrd

Philanthropist

Joining the Jerome Foundation staff in 1997, Robert Byrd directed the Film, Video and Digital Production Program, which supports narrative, documentary, experimental and animation filmmakers in Minnesota and New York City. He was known by artists and colleagues in the arts and philanthropic community for his passion, advocacy and commitment to artists.

The documentary filmmaker’s Emmy and festival award-winning work was featured in American and European film festivals as well as national PBS, The Discovery Channel and European television. From 1989 to 1997, he was a senior producer at Twin Cities Public Television in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he produced and directed documentaries in the Community Affairs Department — one of the first production units in the PBS system devoted exclusively to productions on poor and marginalized people and communities.

Robert served on the board of the Twin Cities Film Festival and on numerous other media arts funding panels throughout the country including Tribeca Film Institute, The Independent Television Service (ITVS), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and various state agencies. He also served on boards and funding committees of national and local organizations, including the National Association of Media Arts and Culture (NAMAC), Grantmakers in Film and Electronic Media (GFEM), and the Paul Robeson Fund in New York City.

Robert earned his BA from the University of Chicago. From 1981-85, he was as an associate director at the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union. He also was an adjunct faculty member at Minneapolis College of Art and Design in the media arts department from 2000-04.

Mignon Clyburn

Executive

Mignon Clyburn served two terms as a commissioner and then as acting chair of the Federal Communications Commission from 2009-2013. While there, she ensured that communities of color had a voice in landmark commission votes and on several of the most important and far-reaching policy fronts in America.  Clyburn has served as the Commission’s conscience, and under her purview the FCC has shaped a framework that strives to better enable entrepreneurship, activism, and innovation in diverse communities across the country. Her commitment to leveling the digital playing field — by expanding access to universal broadband, strengthening consumer protections, and taking steps to close a digital divide that restricts opportunity for many American communities — will ring on in the future history of our economy and society.

While at the FCC, Mignon was committed to closing the digital divide. She was an advocate for Lifeline Modernization, which assists low-income consumers by defraying the cost of broadband service. She also championed diversity in media ownership, initiated Inmate Calling Services reforms, emphasized diversity and inclusion in STEM opportunities, and fought to preserve a free and open internet.

Before joining the FCC, Mignon spent 11 years as a member of the 6th District on the Public Service Commission (PSC) of South Carolina. Earlier, she was the publisher and general manager of her family-founded newspaper for 14 years, the Coastal Times, a Charleston-based weekly newspaper that focused primarily on issues affecting the African American community.

Rhea Combs

Curator

Rhea L. Combs is a supervisory curator of photography and film and the director of the Earl W. and Amanda Stafford Center for African American Media Arts (CAAMA) at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Her curatorial projects include Now Showing: African American Movie Posters (2019); Represent: Hip Hop Photography (2018); and Watching Oprah: The Oprah Winfrey Show and American Culture (2018, co-curated with Kathleen Kendrick). With more than 20 years of experience in the museum and nonprofit arts industry, she specializes in photography and the history of African American cinema, and is interested in how gender and race are represented in the media, the history of African American image makers, and contemporary visual art.

Rhea holds a doctorate in American Studies with a concentration in film history and African American studies from Emory University; a master’s in African American studies and literature from Cornell University, and a bachelor’s in communications from Howard University. She delivers lectures nationally and internationally, and her essays have appeared in the NMAAHC’s photography book series as well as in numerous anthologies, academic journals, and exhibition catalogues. In 2019, Time magazine listed her as one of the top cultural leaders helping to change the field.

Before joining NMAAHC, Rhea was an ad firm photography curator. She also curated a film festival at Harlem’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture for Black Public Media, and she served as BPM’s director of outreach. Her other curatorial projects include exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London, Spelman Museum of Fine Art, and Chicago Historical Museum.

Jacqueline Glover

Executive

Jacqueline Glover recently joined ABC as head of documentary, where she is responsible for managing ABC News’ burgeoning feature documentary business, cultivating the best filmmaking talent and documentary film projects for Walt Disney Television and theatrical release. In her 27-year tenure at HBO, Jackie’s projects have received numerous awards, including 9 Emmys.

Previously, while serving as senior vice president, HBO Documentary Films, she oversaw all aspects of the department’s programming, including development, acquisitions, and production. She has executive produced True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality; Emmy-winning King in the Wilderness, a portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s final years; and Emmy- winning Jim: The James Foley Story. Other projects include supervising producer on Oscar-winning short Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1; Oscar-nominated short Redemption; Emmy-nominated Gloria: In Her Own Words; Peabody-winning If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise from Spike Lee; Oscar-nominated films China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province and The Witness: From the Balcony of Room 306; and Emmy-winning Teddy: In His Own Words.

Her other acclaimed projects include: Emmy-winning documentaries When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts from Spike Lee; Life of Crime Two; The Cruise; and Kids of Survival; Emmy-nominated American Hollow, Section 60: Arlington National Cemetery and Half Past Autumn: The Life and Works of Gordon Parks; the Oscar-winning animated short The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation; and Oscar-winning documentary short Chernobyl Heart. She was coordinating producer for Oscar-nominated 4 Little Girls, by Spike Lee, and Oscar-winning short The Personals; and she served as producer for the Emmy-nominated Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives for HBO. Jackie holds a BFA from New York University Tisch School of the Arts.

Mable Haddock

Curator

Mable Haddock is the founding president and first CEO of the National Black Programming Consortium (then NBPC but rebranded as Black Public Media in 2018.) For more than 20 years, her hands-on brand of leadership was the driving force behind NBPC initiatives. Her keen business sense and strong artistic vision transformed the organization into one of the leading and most trusted sources of funding and inspiration for countless African American and African filmmakers. During her tenure, more than $6 million in NBPC funds were dispersed to independent filmmakers. She and those storytellers spearheaded the ongoing movement to transform the media landscape into one that is more diverse, inclusive and equitable.

Mable’s career highlights include writing for Dialogue magazine; co-producing The Fannie Lou Hamer Story, Mandela (Blue Ribbon Women in Communications Award), The State of Black America (1984 and 1985), and Black America: Facing the Millennium (1997); and serving as a media panelist for the Ohio Arts Council, Pennsylvania Council for the Arts, the Jerome Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Mable recently completed her term as founding director of the Firelight Media Producers’ Lab.

A graduate of Mercy College, she holds a certificate of public broadcast management from the Wharton School of Business, was bestowed Columbia University’s Revson Fellowship, and has received numerous film, television and media industry awards during her more than 30 years of public media service. Currently, she is developing new projects to facilitate the emergence of the next generation of multicultural media professionals as well as supporting the ongoing contributions of veteran artists.

Maori Holmes

Curators

Born in Los Angeles, Maori Holmes is a curator, filmmaker and writer. Included in Essence Magazine’s 2019 Woke 100 List, she is also a 2019 Soros Equality Fellow, the founder and artistic director of BlackStar Film Festival, and a visiting scholar at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. She has organized myriad film and music programs for organizations including the Anthology Film Archives; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Underground Museum; and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her work as a director has screened internationally, including feature documentary Scene Not Heard: Women in Philadelphia Hip-Hop (2006). She also has directed and produced works for Colorlines.com, Visit Philadelphia, and singer-songwriter India.Arie.

Maori has served as executive director of ARRAY Alliance (2018), and director of public engagement at the Institute of Contemporary Art at University of Pennsylvania (2016-2018). She’s also held positions at the Leeway Foundation, Painted Bride Art Center, Temple University, Netter Center at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Independent Film and Video Association, Sony Music, and the Washington City Paper. As an educator, she has taught at Drexel University, Temple University, and Villanova University, among other institutions, and her writing has appeared in numerous publications.

Maori holds a master’s in film and media arts from Temple University and a bachelor’s in history from American University. She currently serves on the board of American Documentary (POV), and  the advisory boards of Ulises,Vidiots, and Lightbox Film Center. In 2019, she was a juror for the Full Frame Film Festival, and the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival.

Michelle Materre

Executive

In addition to being an associate professor of media studies and film at The New School, where she has taught since 2001, Michelle Materre currently directs the media management graduate program in the university’s School of Media Studies. For more than 30 years she has worked professionally as a film producer, writer, lecturer, arts administrator, distribution/marketing specialist, film programmer, media consultant, Caribbean film scholar, and college professor. In 1992, she co-founded one of the first African-American-owned film distribution companies, KJM3 Entertainment Group, which directly managed the marketing, positioning and distribution of more than 23 films by filmmakers of African descent including Daughters of the Dust, the highly acclaimed film by Julie Dash; and L’Homme Sur Les Quais (The Man By the Shore), by Raoul Peck.

Michelle’s critically acclaimed film series, Creatively Speaking, featuring work by and about women and POC, is now in its 25th year. In February 2015, Creatively Speaking co-presented the unprecedented film series Tell It Like It Is: Black Independents in NYC 1968-1986, with The Film Society of Lincoln Center, which was awarded the Film Heritage Award by the National Society of Film Critics. A second series presented in March 2017 at BAMcinéatek, One Way or Another: Black Women Filmmakers 1970 – 1991, was acknowledged by Richard Brody, of The New Yorker Magazine, as The Best Repertory Series of 2017 as well as awarded the Film Heritage Award of 2017 by the National Society of Film Critics. Currently, Michele is a board member of Women Make Movies and she is a former board member of New York Women in Film & Television.

Marita Rivero

Executive

Marita Rivero has spent her career capturing our stories, often untold, to help us find one another across our differences. Her career began in production at WGBH-TV in 1970. By 1980, she had moved into management positions where she produced live events, electronic and digital media, and launched the daily international radio news program The World. Her noteworthy national television projects include Africans in America, a History of Slavery; This Far by Faith; and the WORLD channel.

Marita has served as vice president and general manager for WGBH radio and television in Boston; vice president for radio at WPFW-Pacifica in DC; and president and chief executive officer for the Museum of African American History, Boston and Nantucket. The many awards and honors she’s received include: The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce’s Pinnacle Award; the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus’s Abigail Adams Tribute Award; the YWCA Women Achievers Award; national Peabody, duPont-Columbia and Emmy awards; a regional NABJ  Journalist of the Year award; and a New England NATAS’s Silver Circle induction.

Marita has served on many national and local boards including: the NPR board, PRI board, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation (chair); the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau; the Bunker Hill Community College board (chair), the Urban League, YWCA Boston, and National Capital Area chapters. Nationally, she has chaired Black Public Media and the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Internationally, she has served on the board of the Kokrobitey Institute, in Ghana. Her interview for The HistoryMakers is included in the National Archives.

Noland Walker

Executive

Noland Walker is the VP of Content at ITVS where he develops a portfolio of programs while providing editorial and production support to a broader slate of ITVS films. He co-programs the Emmy-winning Independent Lens series and was an Emmy- and Peabody-winning filmmaker prior to joining ITVS. His rise in the industry included his first film as one of the four producer/directors on PBS’ Peabody- and Emmy-winning series Africans in America. Even before that landmark production, Noland made his mark as an assistant editor, an editor, a script reader for Quincy Jones’ company, a post-production coordinator on a hit ABC sitcom and an associate producer.

Noland cites the support he received from BPM in the early years of his career with helping smooth his path forward: BPM (then NBPC) “treated me like a filmmaker who had something to offer … saw who I was and who I could be. They challenged me to live up to that.” And, that he did.

INSTITUTIONS

Array Now

Institution

Blackside Productions

Institution

Firelight Media

Institution

40 Acres & A Mule

Institution

ImageNation

Institution

Scribe Video Center

Institution

Array Now

Institution

Founded in 2010 by Ava DuVernay, ARRAY is a film collective dedicated to the amplification of images by people of color and women directors. Now in its ninth year, ARRAY Releasing focuses on grass-roots distribution of feature narrative and documentary work by varied voices. Non-profit ARRAY Alliance expands on the organization’s deep roots in independent film with disruptive social impact and education initiatives. ARRAY Creative Campus serves as an epicenter for production and programming dedicated to marginalized voices. ARRAY Filmworks is the production company responsible for When They See Us, Queen Sugar, The Red Line, and the Oscar nominated, Emmy winning documentary 13TH.

Blackside Productions

Institution

Founded in 1968, by Henry Eugene Hampton Jr. (January 8, 1940 – November 22, 1998), Blackside Productions went on to become one of the nation’s most acclaimed documentary film companies. Blackside is renowned for shaping the human stories behind the history, into compelling films that inspire dialogue on the social and political issues at the core of American life.

Producing more than 60 major film and media projects, Blackside has given many emerging filmmakers the opportunity to learn their craft. Eyes on the Prize (1987), the company’s definitive history of the civil rights movement, won the duPont-Columbia Gold Baton, the Peabody Award, Academy Award nominations, and numerous Emmys. Blackside has also brought many other award-winning productions to public television, including: The Great Depression (1993); Malcolm X: Make It Plain (1994); America’s War on Poverty (1995); This Far by Faith (2003), and I’ll Make Me A World (1999).

The re-release of Eyes on the Prize was made possible by grants from The Ford Foundation and The Gilder Foundation. The series is a production of Blackside, Inc., and was created and executive-produced by Henry Hampton (1940-1998). Blackside principals are Judi Hampton, president and Veva Zimmerman, vice president.

Firelight Media

Institution

In 2000, filmmaker Stanley Nelson and his wife, Marcia A. Smith, founded Firelight Media, a nonprofit production company dedicated to using historical film to advance contemporary social justice causes, as well as to mentoring, inspiring, and training a new generation of diverse young filmmakers committed to advancing underrepresented stories. In 2016, Firelight received a MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.

Stanley is among the most prolific and premier documentary filmmakers working today. His feature-length films combine compelling narratives with rich and deeply researched historical detail, shining new light on both familiar and under-explored aspects of the American past. Stanley and his extensive body of work have garnered every major award in the industry. He is a MacArthur “Genius Fellow,” was awarded an individual Peabody Award, the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts Sciences, and received the National Medal in the Humanities from President Barack Obama.

Stanley’s latest film, Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2019. The screening marked Stanley’s 10th premiere at the prestigious festival in 20 years, the most of any documentary filmmaker. In 2018, he directed a short film examining the history and impact of racial profiling in public spaces. The Story of Access was screened at a mandatory training for 175,000 Starbucks employees across 8,000 stores and received over a million views on companion websites. His 2003 film, The Murder of Emmett Till (Sundance Special Jury Prize), uncovered new eyewitnesses to the crime and helped prompt the US Department of Justice to reopen the case.

40 Acres & A Mule

Institution

40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks is the brainchild of Spike Lee, the Oscar winning director, writer, actor, producer, author, and tenured NYU grad school professor. Spike founded the Brooklyn-based 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks shortly after earning his MFA in film production at NYU’s Tish School of the Arts.

Under the Filmworks banner, Spike has directed and produced over 30 films. His first feature, the independently produced She’s Gotta Have It (1986), premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 1986 and received the esteemed Prix de la Jeunesse Award. His film Do the Right Thing, released in 1989, earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay and remains relevant today. In addition to groundbreaking features, 40 Acres & A Mule has produced several documentaries, including the Oscar-nominated 4 Little Girls (1997) and the Peabody and Emmy Award-winning When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts(2006) and If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise (2010), all with HBO.

In January of 2020, Spike was appointed head juror for the Cannes Film Festival. He is the first Black person in the festival’s history to be named to the prestigious post.

ImageNation

Institution

Founded in 1997, the Harlem-based ImageNation is a media arts organization dedicated to promoting progressive media by and about people of color. Over the years, it has hosted film and music events for more than 200,000 people worldwide with esteemed partners including: the Apollo Theater, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York City Parks, and Black Public Media. Internationally, it has presented programs in South Africa, Scotland and Canada. Domestically, it’s hosted programs at Harvard University, MASS MOCA, and in Dallas, Los Angeles, Baltimore, and Washington DC. Programs have featured Spike Lee, Lee Daniels, Erykah Badu, Stanley Nelson, Raoul Peck, Chuck D, and Ava DuVernay, to name a few.

ImageNation was founded by Moikgantsi Kgama, an audience development specialist with a reputation for excellence in her field. Her credits include: “Say Amen Somebody, Academy Award-nominated Trouble the Water, Killer of Sheep, and Lumumba, to name a few. Her business partner and husband, Gregory Gates, a cultural events producer who coordinates concerts for legendary artists including Madonna, the late Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, and others.

Through ImageNation and the campaign to open the Sōl Cinema Cafe, Moikgantsi and Gregory have inspired a new movement of African Americans in independent film exhibition. Their Sōl Cinema Café, a boutique cinema-eatery where patrons can watch amazing films, experience breath-taking VR, eat good food, and share ideas, is expected to open Harlem once New York City’s pandemic restrictions about gathering crowds are relaxed.

Scribe Video Center

Institution

In 1982, documentary filmmaker Louis Massiah used his Pew and MacArthur Fellowship to found the Philadelphia-based Scribe Video Center. Scribe provides underrepresented segments of Philadelphia’s population access to media production facilities. It also trains emerging video makers and helps  community organizations use video to address issues of social concern.

Louis’ producing and directing credits include Trash (1985), The Bombing of Osage Avenue (1986), Cecil B. Moore (1987), W.E.B. Du Bois: A Biography in Four Voices (1995), and Louise Alone Thompson Patterson: In Her Own Words (2002). He also produced two films for the PBS series, Eyes on the Prize II (1990). He is the executive producer for Precious Places (2005), a citywide, community, video history project in the form of 21 short documentaries.

Scribe has compiled more than 350 documentaries that represent a history of Philadelphia told by its citizens. In 2012, it received a Center Project grant to help members of the area’s longstanding Muslim communities create media that depict their regional histories. In 2014, Scribe received Center Project support to work with media artists to create site-specific works exploring the Great Migration and its impact on Philadelphia. A 2019 project grant supports The Tenants of Lenapehocking in the Age of Magnets, a documentary that surveys North Philadelphia’s African American community from 1896 to 1968.

OUR HISTORY

Founded in 1979 as the National Black Programming Consortium and re-branded in 2018 as Black Public Media, this organization began because there was a need to encourage the development of films and television programs about the Black experience that involved creative risks and addressed the needs of un-served and underserved audiences.

Dedicated to creating a pathway for funding and distribution for Black storytellers, BPM provides seed money for projects along with distribution opportunities through PBS. For many filmmakers like Spike Lee, Julie Dash, Stanley Nelson, Shola Lynch, and Byron Hurt, BPM became a beacon of support at the earliest stages of their careers. Inspired by a spirit of excellence in stories about the Black experience, BPM’s thoughtful and compelling approach to selecting projects has resulted in a host of award-winning and nominated films. The 2006 expansion of funding support to include content created exclusively for the web (Black Folk Don’t, Evoking the Mulatto, Ask A Muslim) has positioned BPM to engage the public online in necessary conversations about race, history, and social issues through short narratives and other digital properties.

Today, after 40 years of historic work, BPM continues to leverage its expertise by investing in innovative content creators, and bringing dynamic programs about the Black experience that provoke, educate, and entertain on and off the screen. We salute the visionaries who created this organization and look forward to the innovative stories yet to come.

For more information about our 40-year journey, visit our timeline.

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