The presence and progress of African-American women directors in the film industry is the focus of Sisters in Cinema, a feature-length documentary by openly lesbian Yvonne Welbon (Living with Pride: Ruth Ellis @100).
In search of answers to her personal curiosity about the existence of African-American women filmmakers, Welbon goes on a quest to find her “sisters in cinema.” As if telling a story, she serves as narrator of her journey as she seeks to identify and illuminate a history of independent filmmaking that has long been hidden.
The first docmentary of its kind, Welbon begins her search in Hollywood at the major studios where she soon discovers that of the multitude of feature films produced, only one—Darnell Martin’s I Like It Like That—had been directed by an African-American woman. Welbon quickly realizes that she is not going to find many of her sisters in Hollywood, so she expands her journey to the inde-pendent film industry where she finds a wide range of films directed by African-American women outside of the Hollywood system.
Sisters in Cinema, which features interviews interwoven with film clips, rare archival footage, and photographs, is certainly a historical and educational homage to African-American women filmmakers who, against all odds, made history.
Highlighted in the documentary are the careers of Julie Dash (Daughters of the Dust), Maya Angelou (Down in the Delta), openly lesbian Cheryl Dunye (My Baby’s Daddy), and Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou), among others.
Welbon has created over a dozen award-winning works that have been screened on public television, cable, and in film festivals around the world. She holds a master of fine arts degree and a doctorate in radio/TV/film. Her film Living with Pride: Ruth Ellis @ 100 has been screened in over 150 venues around the world (including Houston) and won 10 best-documentary awards.
Sisters in Cinema premieres on Black Starz ( www.starzencore.com) at 7 p.m. on February 8 with repeat airings throughout the month. —Suzie Lynde