BHERC Launches Black Carpet Speaker Series
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BLACK HOLLYWOOD EDUCATION AND RESOURCE CENTER
LAUNCHES THE BLACK CARPET SPEAKER SERIES
A TIMELY CONVERSATION AND Q&A WITH
GROUNDBREAKING FEMALE DIRECTORS
GINA PRINCE-BYTHEWOOD AND KASI LEMMONS
ON THE URGENCY TO TELL STORIES OF BLACK WOMEN AND DISRUPTING THE STATUS QUO
LIVE ON FRIDAY, JULY 31 FROM 5:00 P.M. – 6:00 P.M. PDT
THE SPEAKER SERIES WILL BE FOLLOWED BY THE
BHERC’S “REEL BLACK MEN FILM FESTIVAL”
FROM SATURDAY, AUGUST 1 – SATURDAY, AUGUST 8
LOS ANGELES (July 24, 2020) – Sandra Evers-Manly, President of Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center, announced today the launch of BHERC’s Black Carpet Speaker Series, a free series providing Black filmmakers a platform to discuss their careers, influences, latest works, and filmmaking insights. The series provides access to a broad range of audiences and communities including colleges and universities.
The first live virtual speaker series will be a timely and rich conversation between groundbreaking female directors, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Kasi Lemmons, on the urgency to tell stories of black women and disrupting the status quo. There will also be audience questions. Academy® member Evers-Manly will be facilitating. These long-time friends and filmmakers have been championed by Evers-Manly and BHERC since the beginning of their careers when short films from each filmmaker played at one of the organization’s film festivals. Prince-Bythewood and Lemmons have both gone on to direct influential films including their most recent works respectively, “The Old Guard” and “Harriet.” The free conversation takes place on Friday, July 31 from 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. PDT. To RSVP, please go to: www.bherc.org.
The first Black Carpet Speaker Series will be followed the next day with BHERC’s annual “Reel Black Men Film Festival” that runs from Saturday, August 1 – Saturday,
August 8. “Reel Black Men” spotlights shorts created by African-American male filmmakers (Black Men). BHERC’s festival provides an opportunity to screen these shorts and showcase the directors skills, talent and vision through film screenings, while giving the audience a chance to view and discuss the artistry, passion and sacrifice involved in the independent filmmaker process. To purchase tickets for the film festival, at $10.00 each, and for more info, please visit: www.bherc.org/festivals/reel-Black-men.
“Gina and Kasi, are part of the BHERC family and are alumni of our Sistas are Doin’ It for Themselves Short Film Showcase,” said Evers-Manly. “We are proud to have supported them and their films in the past and look forward to supporting them in the future. They are exceptional directors who have broken through barriers in Hollywood, and firmly stand at the top of their game. There is no denying their talent. We have witnessed first-hand their willingness to lift others as they climb. They represent the best and what we need now more than ever in the entertainment industry. We are honored to have these two groundbreaking directors kick off our Black Carpet Speaker Series.”
“The BHERC African-American Film Marketplace and S.E. Manly Short Film Showcase has been a part of my consciousness since my days at UCLA Film School,” said Prince-Bythewood. “I had so much to say as a young, aspiring filmmaker and I craved an audience to hear me. BHERC gave me that audience and allowed me to share my work, and share the experience with others. It helped me to grow as a filmmaker. I am grateful for such a safe, supportive outlet early in my career. It was truly invaluable.”
“As an emerging filmmaker of color, and especially as a Black woman, having a space that celebrates Black voices was essential for nourishing my creativity,” said Lemmons. “BHERC gave me a professional platform for my early work, access to a hungry audience and most of all, the opportunity to meet other Black women filmmakers, like Gina, who has become a lifelong friend.”
Michele Robertson: Cell: (213) 718-5767. Email: [email protected]
Monique Floyd: Cell: (818) 599-2903. Email: [email protected]
The Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center, a nonprofit, public benefit organization is designed to advocate, educate, research, develop and preserve the history, and the future, of blacks in film and television industries.
In 1996, the Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center was founded by Sandra Evers-Manly to remove the veil of invisibility that shrouds African Americans and other diverse groups from the main stage, and to spotlight diversity and the stellar contributions of black film and television artists who brought dignity and professionalism to even the most menial of roles.
The BHERC strives to highlight the important roles that blacks have played, and continue to play, in film and television. To that end, the BHERC annually celebrates and promotes black history and culture through a series of annual film festivals. The festivals showcase the richness and power of young filmmakers who will lead the struggle for positive and quality black films in the Millennium.
ABOUT GINA PRINCE-BYTHEWOOD:
Award-winning director/writer/producer Gina Prince-Bythewood is one of the most versatile storytellers working in film and television. Known for her authentic character-driven work, Prince-Bythewood has directed and written such influential feature films as “Love & Basketball,” “The Secret Life of Bees,” and “Beyond The Lights.”
Most recently from Prince-Bythewood is the action drama feature, “The Old Guard,” which she directs and stars Charlize Theron and Kiki Layne. A Netflix original feature, it is based on the popular comic book series created by author Greg Rucka and illustrator Leandro Fernández. The blockbuster is already among the Top 10 most popular Netflix films of all time since its July 10 release with Prince-Bythewood becoming the first Black female director on the list.
Other recent credits for Prince-Bythewood include the special event series, “Shots Fired,” which she and her husband Reggie Rock Bythewood served as Series Creators and Executive Producers. The ten-hour series for Fox examined the dangerous aftermath of two racially charged shootings in a small Southern town. In addition, Prince-Bythewood directed the pilot for Marvel’s “Cloak & Dagger,” which launched to strong reviews and viewers, starring breakout actors Olivia Holt and Aubrey Joseph as two teenagers with newly acquired superpowers who are mysteriously linked to one another.
Next up for Prince-Bythewood is directing the historical epic, “The Woman King” for TriStar Pictures, starring Viola Davis. “The Woman King” is inspired by true events that took place in The Kingdom of Dahomey, one of the most powerful states of Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries. The story follows Nanisca (Davis), General of the all-female military unit, and her daughter Nawi, who together fought the French and neighboring tribes who violated their honor, enslaved their people, and threatened to destroy everything they’ve lived for.
An advocate for equal representation in film, Prince-Bythewood funds a scholarship for African American students in the film program at UCLA, her alma mater.
ABOUT KASI LEMMONS:
Kasi Lemmons is an award-winning director, writer, actress and professor who has been a staple in Hollywood for nearly three decades. Her acclaimed 1997 feature directorial debut, “Eve’s Bayou,” was recently inducted into the National Film Registry, and is considered among the first to showcase the beauty of African American Southern culture.
The film received the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature, and the National Board of Review bestowed her with a special first-time director award. “Eve’s Bayou” marked Samuel L. Jackson’s debut as a film producer and helped launch the careers of actresses Meagan Good and Jurnee Smollett.
Lemmons’ sophomore feature, “The Caveman’s Valentine,” opened the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, while her third film, “Talk to Me,” earned the 2008 NAACP Image Award for outstanding directing. She also adapted Langston Hughes’ musical “Black Nativity” for the big screen in 2013.
Her latest opus, “Harriet,” is a deeply resonant and powerful drama based on the life of American icon Harriet Tubman. Starring Cynthia Enviro in the titular role, “Harriet” earned two Oscar nominations, two Golden Globe nominations, and ten NAACP Award nominations. In addition to her directing on “Harriet,” Lemmons most recently executive produced the Netflix limited series “Self Made” starring Octavia Spencer and directed two episodes.
As an actress, Lemmons appeared in such notable films as Jonathan Demme’s “Silence of the Lambs,” John Woo’s “Hard Target,” and Spike Lee’s “School Daze.”
Lemmons has worked extensively as a mentor and educator, and currently serves as an Arts Professor in the Graduate Film Department at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She has shared her passion for writing and teaching with institutions across the world, including Yale University, MIT, USC, UCLA, Los Angeles Film School, and The University Pristina Film School in Kosovo. Lemmons holds an Honorary Degree, Doctor of Letters from Salem State College. She has served on the board of Film Independent since 2004.
Along with Academy-Award nominated composer Terence Blanchard, Lemmons recently added librettist to her formidable body of work, creating the stage adaptation of Charles Blow’s New York Times bestselling memoir “Fire Shut Up in My Bones,” for the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.
Lemmons will adapt and direct Maaza Mengiste’s historical fiction novel, “The Shadow King,” for Atlas Entertainment.
She resides in Harlem with her husband, Vondie Curtis-Hall and their children.
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