Where Are The Brown Women Filmmakers?

A weekly spotlight on inspiring female directors of color and their latest projects.

Venice Days (Venice Film Festival)


Ava DuVernay – “The Door”

Ava DuVernay is great example of a female filmmaker not afraid to try her at different mediums. Although THE DOOR is a shorter, dialogue-less project created in partnership with Miu Miu fashion line, it still features the beautiful Black cast, dynamic cinematography and hypnotic soundtrack that has a become a key aesthetic in her films. If you haven’t already seen it, please stop what you’re doing and WATCH.


Cherien Dabis – “May In The Summer”

Following in the vein of Julie Delpy (“Two Days In New York”) and Lake Bell (“In a World…), Palestinian-American Cherien Dabis is both the director and lead actress in her second feature, MAY IN THE SUMMER, about a woman who returns home to Jordan for her wedding. This week’s screening at Venice will mark the film’s international premiere. Sadly, I missed the world premiere at Sundance and will be here in the states during Venice, but it’s as a good a time as ever to check out Dabis’ 2009 directorial debut, “Amereeka”.

Hiam Abbass – “Le donne della Vucciria”

InThe list of multi-tasking women continues with Palestinian actress/director Hiam Abbass, who stars in MAY IN THE SUMMER and made a short for Miu Miu called LE DONNE DELLA VUCCIRIA. You can watch the trailer for the fashion fairytale HERE. Abbass will also be a on a panel about female creativity this weekend with Freida Pinto.

Toronto International Film Festival

Amma Asante – “Belle”

If I were attending TIFF, award-winning British director Amma Asante’s BELLE would be at the top of my must-see list. I’m sure all eyes will be on TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE, but I think after DJANGO last year, I’m ready to see a Black female lead a period piece on both sides of the camera. The fact that it’s based on the true story of an “illegitimate, bi-racial daughter of a Royal Navy admiral in 18th-century Britain” named Dido Elizabeth Belle has me even more intrigued.

New York Film Festival

Michèle Stephenson – “American Promise”

Returning home to screen at NYFF seems absolutely fitting, since the film chronicles Michèle and her husband/co-director Joe’s journey with their son through the New York private school system. I first saw AMERICAN PROMISE as a work-in-progress screening at the 2011 Cucalorus Film Festival in North Carolina. Fast forward almost two years later, I’m sitting in a packed theater for the world premiere at Sundance. I couldn’t be happier for this entire team. It really is true what they say: “The more specific, the more universal.”

Jehane Noujaim – “The Square (Al Midan)”

THE SQUARE, from Egyptian-American director Jehane Noujaim (CONTROL ROOM), literally captures a political revolution on film. The powerful documentary took home the Audience Award at this year’s Sundance. As an American bombarded (and overwhelmed) with news snippets of current global events, I greatly admire nonfiction filmmakers who boldly risk everything in the name of providing a just account of landmark events such as the occupation of Tahrir Square by Egyptian youth in 2011.

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