Cinema Femme, the online publication devoted to elevating the voice of the female film experience, is hosting its inaugural Short Film Festival from Thursday, August 6th, through Sunday, August 9th, via the Seed&Spark platform. Among its line-up of virtual Q&As and events (which you can find here) is a special panel entitled the Black Female Filmmaker Renaissance. Rebecca Martin, publisher of Cinema Femme, wanted to express her site’s solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement by holding this panel to discuss the powerful cinematic stories by Black female filmmakers. Chaz Ebert, publisher of RogerEbert.com, which is sponsoring the festival, will serve as the moderator of this free panel, which will take place at 7pm CT on Saturday, August 8th, here.
Here are a complete list of the bios for each remarkable participant of the panel, in alphabetical order…
Chaz Ebert, moderator
Chaz Ebert is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of RogerEbert.com, the preeminent movie review site co-founded with her husband, the late Roger Ebert. She also produces television and movies at Ebert Productions and Black Leopard Productions, and appears in the film “Life Itself” about her late husband. She heads the Ebertfest Film Festival, now in its 22nd year, where she awards the Golden Thumb and Ebert Humanitarian Awards to filmmakers who exhibit an unusually compassionate view of the world. (These are also awarded at the Toronto and Chicago International Film Festivals.) Her civic interests include programs to help break the glass ceiling for women and people of color, and to provide education and arts for women, children and families.
She is the president of the Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation where she supports programs with a global interest in encouraging empathy, kindness, compassion and forgiveness. She has provided grants to support films with strong social justice themes, and also encourages and supports emerging writers, filmmakers and technologists with her endowment of scholarships, internships or awards at the Sundance Film Festival, Film Independent Spirit Awards – Project Involve, the University of Illinois Ebert Fellowships, the Hawaii International Film Festival-Young Critics Program, the Telluride Ebert/TIFF University Seminars, the Chicago International Film Festival – Ebert Director Awards, and the Columbia College Links Journalism Awards in conjunction with the Chicago Urban League.
Previously as an attorney she was named Lawyer of the Year by the Constitutional Rights Foundation and has also practiced as a litigator in various fields of law including environmental, civil rights and family law, and employment, antitrust and intellectual property law. She is a life trustee of the Art Institute and serves on the boards of the Lyric Opera, the Abraham Lincoln Library Foundation, After School Matters, the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab (formerly the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago), and the Honorary Board of Family Focus. Some of her professional affiliations include the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, the Chicago Film Critics Association and the African-American Film Critics Association.
Besides lecturing on film-related matters, she has lectured on Caregiving, and Patient Advocacy with topics such as “Sometimes Hope is a Strategy.”
Ashley O’Shay, panelist
Ashely O’Shay is a DP and documentarian based in Chicago, IL, whose work focuses on illuminating marginalized voices. She has produced work for national brands, including Lifetime, Ford Motor Company, Boost Mobile, KQED, and Dr. Martens. Most recently, she filmed the final episode of Dr. Martens’ “Tough As You” series, starring the band Phony Ppl, accruing over 65K views on social and web. In 2019, she co-produced the Chicago episode of KQED’s award-winning series “If Cities Could Dance,” which became one of their most viewed episodes to date.
Her work also appeared in the critically-acclaimed Lifetime docuseries, “Surviving R. Kelly.” Currently, Ashley is directing “Unapologetic,” an intimate look into the Movement for Black Lives in Chicago through the experiences of two young Black feminists. She is currently an associate with Kartemquin Films.
Channing Godfrey Peoples, panelist
Channing Godfrey Peoples is a Writer/Director. She is an MFA graduate of the USC School of Cinematic Arts and one of Filmmaker Magazine “25 New Faces of Independent Film“ for 2018. As an African-American woman, her films are character-driven stories focusing on the resilience of the human spirit, often featuring black women at a turning point in their lives. She is a Sundance Fellow, Austin Film Society Fellow, SFFilm/Westridge Foundation Fellow, King Family Foundation Recipient and has served as a Time Warner Artist-in-Residence.
Her short film, “Red,” is a DGA Student Jury Award Winner, among other honors. Channing wrote two episodes on Season 3 of “Queen Sugar” (OWN Network). She also wrote and directed a short film, “Doretha’s Blues,” that was made possible by the support of Refinery 29 and Level Forward in their Shatterbox Anthology series. Most recently, her feature film debut, “Miss Juneteenth,” premiered in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and won the Louis Black “Lone Star” Award at the 2020 SXSW Film Festival. “Peoples trusts her performers enough to let their presence and their wordless interactions convey the power of their connection,” wrote Christy Lemire in her review of the film. You can read Nell Minow’s interview with “Miss Juneteenth” star Nicole Beharie here.
Numa Perrier, panelist
Born in Haiti and raised in small town USA, Numa Perrier has emerged as an exciting voice in the film/TV landscape. Her early work includes starring in and writing the hit web series, “The Couple,” which scored a deal at HBO.
She co-founded the pioneering streaming platform Black&Sexy TV serving as a creator, director, and showrunner on over a dozen series including “Roomieloverfriends” (produced by Issa Rae) and “Hello Cupid” (co-created by Lena Waithe). She then moved on to her feature film directorial debut, “Jezebel,” which premiered at SXSW 2019 and is distributed on Netflix via Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY Releasing. In her SXSW review of the film, Monica Castillo wrote, “Since ‘Jezebel’ is set in the late ’90s, this is very different than the cam girl industry of today, and the archaic tech makes for some hilarious comedic setups. More importantly than laughing at clunky keyboards and video buffering delays in chat rooms, is the movie’s focus on Tiffany’s experiences in these two worlds: the peach-lit bonding scenes between her and her sister at home, and the cool, artificial lights at work where women fake pleasure for unseen viewers.”
Numa is the recipient of the Best Feature and Best Director Awards at the American Black Film Festival, is a Root100 alumni and is also counted as one of the all women directing team on “Queen Sugar.” Numa recently signed on to direct her first studio film, “The Perfect Find” with Netflix starring Gabrielle Union. In front of the camera, Numa recurred as a guest star on Showtime’s irreverent comedy “SMILF” in an critically acclaimed story arc about immigrants. Numa is currently starring in the surreal thriller “Fuzzyhead” alongside Rain Phoenix, and is in development on numerous projects including “TOXIC,” an erotic thriller series and her follow-up feature, “Blood Mother,” via her boutique production arm House of Numa.
Christine Swanson, panelist
Christine Swanson (director | screenwriter), is a Detroit native, visionary storyteller and multiple award-winning filmmaker. She earned her MFA in Film from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, one of the nation’s top-ranked graduate film programs. CNN identified Christine as one of the most promising filmmakers to emerge from NYU’s graduate film program since Martin Scorsese, Ang Lee, Oliver Stone, and Spike Lee (Christine’s NYU directing teacher). Christine also earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Notre Dame, double majoring in Communications and Japanese.
Christine has developed, written and/or directed movie projects for various companies including HBO Films, Magnolia Pictures, State Street Pictures, TV One, and Faith Filmworks, her own independent film company. Christine has written and/or directed numerous award-winning feature films, television episodes, commercials and short films in her career. Some of her award-winning titles include, “Two Seasons” (winner HBO Short Film Competition, Sundance selection), “All About You” (winner Audience Choice Award Chicago International Film Festival, Grand Jury Prize Hollywood Black Film Festival, Festival Award at the Pan African Film Festival, and the Film of the Year Award at the Santa Barbara African Heritage Film Series) starring Renee Elise Goldsberry, Terron Brooks, and Debbie Allen; “All About Us” (invited to the prestigious Heartland Film Festival, The Chicago International Film Festival, and the Cannes Festival du Film Panafricain) starring Boris Kodjoe, Ryan Bathe, and Ruby Dee; and “Woman Thou Art Loosed” (Santa Barbara International Film Festival and Blockbuster Audience Award for Best Feature Film at the American Black Film Festival) starring Kimberly Elise and Loretta Devine.
In 2015, Christine received an NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Directing in a Television Motion Picture for “For the Love of Ruth.” Christine also directed three original cable movie premieres for TV One entitled, “To Hell and Back” (starring Ernie Hudson and Vanessa Bell Calloway), “For the Love of Ruth” (starring Denise Boutte, Loretta Devine, Gary Dourdan, and James Pickens, Jr.) and “Love Under New Management: The Miki Howard Story” (starring Teyonah Parris, Darius McCrary, and Gary Dourdan) which broke network ratings as the most watched original movie in network history.
Recently, Christine directed episodes of “Chicago PD” and “FBI” for Dick Wolf Films. Her episode of Chicago PD was rated the Best Episode of Season 6. Christine also recently directed the hugely popular film “The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel” for A&E Networks. “It’s called ‘The Clark Sisters,'” Nell Minow noted in her three-and-a-half star review, “but this movie belongs to Aunjanue Ellis, who gives a dazzling performance as the mother, choir director, and manager of five daughters who became the most successful female gospel group in history, with Grammys and crossovers to the R&B charts.” You can read Nell’s interview with Swanson and Ellis here.
Sandrel Nicole Young, panelist
Sandrel Nicole Young (Director, Writer), also known in the filmmaking community as “Sanicole,” is a writer/director/producer from Chicago, IL, whose films have screened in prominent film festivals in the country and broadcast nationally for programs including Aspire TV’s African American Short Film Showcase.
She’s also had several films debut at the Gene Siskel Film Center’s “Black Harvest Film Festival,” including her very first short film entitled “Loose Change,” “The What Factor,” “Text Tone” and lastly “Training Wheels,” whose trailer caught the attention of comedian and executive producer Lil Rel Howery. The short film received a lot of online attention and successfully screened in 16 festivals across the country including the American Black Film Festival (2019). Her films “Side Effects” and “The Color of Acceptance” were also aired on TV One and Badami Productions’ African American Short Films Showcase, a nationally syndicated program for filmmakers of color. Sanicole continues to work in Chicago’s filmmaking industry on hit shows such as Amazon Prime’s “Patriot,” “Chicago Fire” and “The Chi.”
The Cinema Femme Short Film Festival’s Black Female Filmmaker Renaissance Panel, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 7pm CT on Saturday, August 8th, here. For the full festival line-up, click here.