African-American Women Film Festival, Five Movies Strong, Begins February 5, 2019

African-American Women Film Festival, Five Movies Strong, Begins February 5, 2019

Free of charge series from the African/African-American Historical Society & Museum

From actresses Bessie Smith to Pam Grier to Cora Lee Day to Quvenzhané Wallis to Taraji P. Henson.  From the Roaring Twenties of St. Louis to Blaxploitation Black to the Gullah Region of Georgia and South Carolina to the imagination sprung from the Louisiana Delta to the world of a black female coach struggling and succeeding in leading an all-male, NCAA golf squad.

These are the through-lines programmed for the film festival Black and Silver: African-American Women on the Silver Screen, five movies with a chronological view of African-American history as seen through the strength, resilience and empowerment of black women.  The festival is sponsored by the African/African-American Historical Society & Museum of Allen County (AAAHSM).

The series, held at the Walb Student Union, Room 114, on the campus of Purdue University Fort Wayne, starts February 5, 2019, kicking off Black History Month, and continues until its conclusion on March 26. The start time is 6 p.m. every night.  The donation is free of charge but donations are welcomed.

According to Leah Reeder, the board director at the AAAHSM, “our thought was to celebrate the strength and resilience of African American women in an industry that is yet so limiting to artists of color.  The series seeks to acknowledge that there is much rich cinematic material of which some viewers may not be aware.” 

The AAAHSM’s first film series revolved the early black filmmaker Oscar Micheaux, who released his first feature length film in 1919.  Micheaux wrote, produced, directed, and released over 45 films between 1919 to 1948, “an amazing feat in the highly discriminatory climate of the United States,” Reeder said.      

According to the board director, the series begins with two short documentary films on black women in history and pop culture.  The nine-minute doc, Colorism in the Media, focuses on the history of media’s present portrayal of Black women in the media.  The second short documentary focuses on the stereotypes about black women that need to be canceled in cinema.

The series progresses chronologically by date of production to look at first “St Louis Blues” (1929), the only known film of the Empress of the Blues, singer Bessie Smith; the film’s soundtrack is her only recording not controlled by Columbia Records.  Next is the blaxploitation film “Coffy” (1973), starring the genre’s most nameable actress, Pam Greer.  Nurse "Coffy" Coffin (Pam Grier) seeks revenge for her younger sister's getting hooked on drugs and having to live in a rehabilitation home, a product of the drug underworld, mob bosses, and a chain of violence that exists in her city.  “Daughters of the Dust” (1991), the independent film that became the first feature directed by an African-American woman distributed theatrically in the United States.  Set in 1902, it tells the story of three generations of Gullah women on Saint Helena Island as they prepare for migration north.

The fantastical, New Orleans-set “Beasts of the Southern Wild” (2012) helped actress Quvenzhané Wallis make history when she became the youngest Best Actress nominee in history at age 9.  The final film “From the Rough” (2013) is a contemporary look at a real-life story of Catana Starks, a black woman who was the first black woman to coach an all-male collegiate level golf team.  



Black and Silver: African-American Women on the Silver Screen


Walb Student Union, Room 114


Start time, every night: 6 p.m.

February 5, 2019 | “St. Louis Blues” (1929)

Feb. 12 | “Coffy” (1973)

Feb. 25 | “Daughters of the Dust” (1991)

March 5 | “Beasts of the Southern Wild” (2012)

March 26 | “From the Rough” (2013)

Free of Charge but donations are welcome

For more information, contact: 260.467.1457