By Dylan Deprey
There’s no denying that black women have been dominating the film industry this year. From the Hollywood superstars to up-and-coming actresses, writers, producers and filmmakers, Black women are making their stamp on the industry in a big way.
Milwaukee Film’s Black Lens is celebrating everything female for 2020 Black History Month.
“Black Women Behind the Lens” is bringing national filmmakers Emily Kuester, Princess Garrett, Cai Thomas and Simone Lyles for the free event at Nō Studios on Feb. 8, from 2-4 p.m.
“I wanted to have a conversation with Black women filmmakers in the industry,” said Miela Fetaw, event moderator and Black Lens organizer. “The future of filmmaking will literally be at this panel.”
Garrett’s, “Sankofa” documentary has been screened at over 20 festivals around the world and won several awards. She even took home Villanova’s first gold medal at the Student Academy Awards.
Cai Thomas is a documentary filmmaker and freelance cinematographer based in Chicago. She intentionally documents black youth and elders, and tells stories at the intersection of identity and self-determination. She has been supported by the Sundance Institute, NeXt Doc, Kartemquin Films and Sisters In Cinema.
Lyles, an Oakland native, wrote, directed and produced, “Origin.” The film takes an impressionist look at sexuality through blending reality and fantasy to contest the idea that sexuality is ultimately consequential.
Kuester’s short film “Black Girl Training,” is a depiction of her life as a transracial adoptee in rural Wisconsin. She received numerous grants and was mentored by Gabourey Sidibe, best known for her lead role in “Precious.”
Over the past year, Black Lens has been hosting events during the MKE Film Festival and throughout the year. Black History Month was especially important to give local filmmakers a chance to hear from their peers in the industry.
Fetaw said she was excited to give Black women a platform to voice their perspective and talk about the problems they face in the industry. She said over the past few years the walls were torn down and the glass ceiling has been shattered.
“Hearing from young Black female filmmakers feels like we’re breaking history,” she said.
Black Lens is also hosting other events and screenings throughout Black History Month.
Feb. 6 – Black Women: Both Sides of the Lens and Opening Celebration
Feb. 8 – Black Women Behind the Lens
Feb. 13 – Love & Basketball in 35mm
Feb. 20 – The Remix: Hip Hop X Fashion
Feb. 27 – Devil’s Pie: D’Angelo
Feb. 29 – Groove Theory & The Band Bazaar Present the D’Angelo Experience
For more information visit: https://www.facebook.com/BlackLensMKE/ for the free event at No Studios from 2 – 4 p.m. on Feb. 8.