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  • Reel Sistahs/Real Issues - Documentary & Discussion

    Their numbers are somewhat few, their names are relatively unknown, and they primarily operate independently. Their chosen task is long and arduous, and the desire that drives them to the finished product is often financially risky. They follow in the footsteps of Julie Dash, the first African American women to receive national theatrical distribution for "Daughters of the Dust;" and Euzhan Palcy, the first woman of African descent to direct a Hollywood studio produced feature, "A Dry White Season."

    We will take a sneak preview of their films. Then we will talk about the reel issues featured in the films by our real sistahs in the cinema, who document the color and culture of our community.


    "Motherís Nature"
    Dale Pierce Nielsen Ė Director / Producer /Writer a short, dramatic film. It is a story about the threads between womanhood, motherhood and love. It is about a middle age, middle class Black woman, Ellie McDaniels, for whom the spark of her adolescent daughter's coming of age reconnects her with a special moment in her own evolutionary journey as a woman. This moment transports the audience to Chicago in the winter of 1977, a time when Ellie, 19 years old and at home for Christmas break, is at an incredible time of her life. She is attending a prestigious East Coast college, her parents have relaxed their grip on her life, and she is enjoying the freedom that her hard work growing up on Chicago's tough southside has afforded her. Things, for once, are comfortable for Ellie until she unexpectedly falls in love. The object of her desire, Nate Carter, is 25, mature and masculine ---a real man in Ellie's mind. Suddenly her world is turned upside down, emotionally and hormonally, causing her to reconsider the future she has always planned for herself.
    The experience of love, rearing its devilishly delirious head, making things exciting, uncomfortable and compelling, is what "Motherís Nature" is about. And through Ellie's romantic adventure we gain a love lesson that touches upon three generations of subtly powerful, passionate and engaging women, each in their own way, on the brink of a change in life. Ellie's past helps to inform her future and define her personal philosophy about life and love. Now, as a mother to a pre-teen, it is belief she must defend.
    "Motherís Nature" is an important story about women because it draws on many of the issues women have surrounding the concepts of love, career and family. From the time a girl is physically capable of bearing children, she is catapulted into a new, heightened stage of physical and emotional turmoil. The want or need for romantic love gradually enhancing that change, brings with it the prospect for maturing sexual relationships, as well as the prospect and responsibility of having a child. The conflict generated by the idea of pregnancy impacts so many decisions within a woman's psyche and can so define who she is or can be that love in these modern times is a very complex matter. Ellie McDaniels, with charm, humor, and seeds of wisdom offers a perspective as to how to maneuver these times. Her story bears witness to a consciousness rarely dealt with in the mediums of television and film, and even more blatantly absent coming from the perspective of a modern Black woman. The dialogue this story has, can and will generate is needed for men and women, our children and our society, and is a step towards a future where love, respect, support, communication, and information can replace the current overwhelming climate of fear, isolation and disassociation.
    For more info about this film's producer CLICK HERE.


    Aishah Shahidah SimmonsĖ Director / Producer /Writer

    ...Through testimonies from Black women survivors, commentaries from acclaimed African- American women scholars and community leaders, including Johnneta Betsch Cole, Farah Jasmine Griffin, Elaine Brown, and Beverly Guy-Sheftall; impacting archival footage, spirited music, dance, and performance poetry, NO! unveils the reality of rape, other forms of sexual violence, and healing in African-American communities. What does it look like to visually make central that which has been placed on the margins and on the periphery? Moving from enslavement of African people in the United States through present day, NO! moves from rage/trauma/emotional and physical pain to meditation to action to healing where the consciousness of the featured Black women survivors of rape and sexual assault, who range in age, geographic location, and sexual orientation, transforms from victim to survivor to educator, activist, and healer. In NO!, African-American history is feminized while simultaneously addressing the rape and sexual assault of Black women and girls. Based on an understanding that heterosexual violence against women will end when all men, make ending this international atrocity a priority in their lives, the commentary and performance of five Black men activists and cultural workers including Ulester Douglas and Sulaiman Nuriddin of Men Stopping Violence and the late award-winning poet Essex Hemphill, are also integrated with the African-American women's voices. While NO! explores how the collective silence about acts of sexual assault adversely affects African Americans, it also encourages dialogue to bring about healing and reconciliation between all men and women.
    For more info about this film's producer CLICK HERE.