Black Female Filmmaker Renaissance Panel

The panel will discuss the powerful cinematic stories by Black female filmmakers in 2019 and 2020, in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement. The panel discussion will be moderated by Chaz Ebert, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of RogerEbert.com and will be a part of the Cinema Femme Short Film Festival. The festival is sponsored by RogerEbert.com and partnered with Mezcla Media Collective, a hub that lifts up over 500 women and non-binary filmmakers of color in Chicago. The event will take place on the Seed&Spark Film Festival platform on Saturday, August 8th, at 5 PM PT / 8 PM ET

The panel discussion will be featured on our Seed&Spark festival page and is free and open to the public. Tune in here.

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Chaz Ebert – Moderator

Chaz Ebert

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.” 

Panelists

Channing Godfrey Peoples

Channing Godfrey Peoples is a Writer/Director. She is a 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.

Ashley O’Shay

Ashley 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.

Numa Perrier

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. 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  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

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 highly anticipated Clark Sisters: The First Ladies of Gospel for A&E Networks.

Director’s Reel: https://vimeo.com/435152042

Sandrel Nicole Young

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.”