Black women filmmakers

A brief history

Authored by: Jacqueline Bobo

The Routledge Companion to Cinema and Gender

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138924956
eBook ISBN: 9781315684062
Adobe ISBN: 9781317408055


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In 2004, Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust (1991) was selected for inclusion in the National Film Registry. A resurgence of widespread interest in films directed by Black women soon followed. This latter-day renaissance included films such as the young women’s sports anthem Love and Basketball (2000), directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, the coming-of-age Black lesbian exploration Pariah (2010), directed by Dee Rees, and Selma (2014), directed by Ava DuVernay. Foreshadowed in the contemporary period are landmark films from previous eras. Even though widespread knowledge of Black women’s films is subject to intermittent cycles of intense mainstream interest, their body of work extends back to the beginning of the twentieth century. This essay traces Black women’s film history—primarily African American women—giving particular attention to those films and filmmakers that have advanced the understanding of this wealth of creativity (See Ciecko, this volume, for a discussion of African women filmmakers).

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