International Women’s Day Survey – Your Top 5 Black Woman-Centered Films

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by Tambay A. Obenson
March 8, 2013 5:31 PM
5 Comments
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In case you haven’t heard… today is the 102nd anniversary of International Women’s Day!

And while you can visit the International Women’s Day website (HERE) to network and learn about or share related news, events, resources, and much more, here at Shadow And Act, I’m making my small contribution to celebrate the occasion with a survey… yes, I’m making you work on International Women’s Day.

But I think you’ll like the question and find it easy enough to answer, so here it goes… List your top 5 black woman-centered films.

Like I said, easy enough, right?

I suspect we’ll see some mentions of Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust, Kasi Lemmons’ Eve’s Bayou, Cheryl Dunye’s Watermelon Woman, Ayoka Chenzira’s Alma’s Rainbow, Lizzie Borden's Born In Flames, Eartha Kitt in Anna Lucasta, The Color Purple, or more recently, Ava DuVernay's last 2 films (I Will Follow and Middle Of Nowhere), Dee Rees' Pariah, Victoria Mahoney's Yelling To The Sky, and maybe even Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls... ok, so maybe not! Although, I shouldn't be so presumptuous...

Some may look outside the USA and consider Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembene’s last work before he died, Moolaade, and of course his first feature, Black Girl (really, several of Sembene's films would qualify).

Or how about Ivorian Désiré Ecaré’s Faces Of Women; or Cameroonian Jean-Pierre Bekolo’s Les Saignantes.

Or more recently, Mariette Monpierre's Guadeloupean drama Elza, and Kim Nguyen's War Witch.

Or the Senegalese version of Carmen, titled Karmen Gei.

Or a pair of Egyptian dramas in Scheherazade, Tell Me a Story, by Yousry Nasrallah, and Cairo 678, by Mohamed Diab - both films that condemn misogyny, and challenge long-standing patriarchal systems of oppression in that country.

Who knows… some may even mention Phat Girlz starring Mo’Nique.

But the century-old well is deep with titles, so you should be able to come up with 5.

Although, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention just how few *working* women directors of the African Diaspora there are - especially within established film industries. Not that this is exactly news, as films that tell stories about black women are often written and directed by non-black women.

Although I'd say we're seeing the beginnings of a shift that'll eventually start to reverse that trend...

But I'll point you to 2 sites that I've been following for years now, and that I've plugged a few times on S&A: first, the African Women In Cinema blog, for a regularly updated look at black African women filmmakers and their films. And Sisters In Cinema, created by Yvonne Welbon, where you'll find a listing of past black women filmmakers you may not be aware of.

So, once again, your top 5 black woman-centered films. School me! I should add that I’m NOT asking you to name every single film ever made that centers on black women, or films that feature black women as secondary characters in someone else's story.

I’m asking for your TOP 5 films that tell stories centered strictly on a black woman or black women. I know how overzealous some of you folks can get.

Maybe what I'll do afterward is go through all the replies and pick 5 of the most mentioned titles, and repost as an *official* S&A audience selection list.


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5 Comments

  • Robyn | March 9, 2013 7:28 PMReply

    I'm new to this site. How do you find these films? Are many on Netflix?

  • BluTopaz | March 9, 2013 10:15 AMReply

    Black Orpheus, Josephine Baker Story, Mahogany, Crooklyn, Drylongso and one extra, Out of Darkness (more films should be made about Black people dealing with mental illness)

    lol @ phat girlz

  • jeftcg | March 9, 2013 4:33 AMReply

    "Mixing Nia"!? Wow, great film, but vastly underrated and unfortunately still too obscure; that film never really caught with black auds the way (I thought) it should have. I saw it at ABFF in '99, and was excited about its potential. Allison, is that you? Miss you, sweetie.

  • getthesenets | March 8, 2013 10:53 PMReply

    an under rated one is made for cable film called "Stomping at the Savoy"

    Lynn Whitfield,Vanessa Bell Calloway,Jasmine Guy and Vanessa Williams

    2.Sugar Hill ..not the one starring Wesley Snipes.....the 70s one which had "Mother Jefferson" in a bit role as a seer....sort of a silly film but I loved it.


    3.women of brewster place

    4 Coffy(best of the Pam Grier 70s flicks)

    5 Mixing Nia (stars "Hillary" from fresh prnce)....

  • Nicole | March 8, 2013 6:09 PMReply

    Another Black film being released this year is Black Nativity. Its being released 11/27/13. Directed by Kasi Lemmons.

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