Sisters in Cinema (2003) is the much anticipated feature documentary by Yvonne Welbon (Living With Pride: Ruth Ellis @ 100) that traces the careers of inspiring African American women filmmakers from the early part of the 20th Century to today. As the first documentary of its kind, Sisters in Cinema creates a strong visual history of the contributions of African American women to the film industry.(Living with Pride: Ruth Ellis @ 100) that traces the careers of inspiring African American women filmmakers from the early part of the 20th century to today.
"When I started film school in 1991 I only knew the name of one African American woman director -- Julie Dash." Said, documentary filmmaker, Yvonne Welbon. "I didn't know what she looked like. I'd never seen any of her films and I had no idea why or how she became a filmmaker. I learned that I was not alone. I heard over and over again, 'I didn't know there were any black women filmmakers.' So, I set out to find my sisters in cinema."
Welbon's first stop in her search takes her to the major Hollywood studios where she soon discovers that of the multitude of feature films produced only one was directed by an African American women (Darnell Martin's "I Like It Like That") and a handful produced, distributed or acquired by mini-majors. Realizing that she wasn't going to find her sisters in cinema in Hollywood, Welbon, instead travels the independent path to uncover a wide range of films directed by an African American women outside of the Hollywood studio system.
Early filmmakers include, Tressie Souders who wrote and directed a Woman's Error in 1922, Zora Neale Hurston, the writer and anthropologist who made ethnographic films in the 1920s, and Eloyce Gist who directed Verdict Not Guilty in the early 1930s.
As the first documentary of its kind, Sisters in Cinema creates a strong visual history of the contributions of African American women to the film industry.
2003 Pan African Film Festival (February 15, 2003) Los Angeles
Women in the Director's Chair ACTION! Award. The award recognizes media makers whose vision and commitment to independent media inspires film/video makers, activists, and feminists of every gender.
Yvonne Welbon's films and videos work to create a stronger media presence for African American women. Her award winning films have been screened on cable, public television, at universities and community centers, and in film and video festivals around the world.
John Pierson, The National Endowment for the Humanities and the Illinois General Assembly; University Film and Video Association; University Film and Video Foundation; The Wexner Center Media Arts Program - The Ohio State University