Rosa Parks Movie Focused On Her Early Activism In Works From Director Julie Dash & Invisible Pictures

'Queen Sugar' screening, Urban World Film Festival, New York, USA - 23 Sep 2017EXCLUSIVE: Helmer Julie Dash has signed on to direct an upcoming biopic on Rosa Parks, which will center on the decade before her seminal moment on a Montgomery bus, when Parks, already an activist of her time, sought justice for 24-year-old wife and mother Recy Taylor, who was brutally gang-raped by six white men in Alabama in 1944.

The project hails from Invisible Pictures with Audrey Rosenberg (I Am Not Your Negro) and Jess Jacobs producing for the company along with Gary Riotto and Rachel Watanabe-Batton. The film is based on the book At the Dark End of the Street by Danielle McGuire, which Lisa Jones (HBO’sDisappearing Acts) adapted as a screenplay.

Said Rosenberg, “[The producers] were inspired by the book and how Danielle framed black women’s collective actions, reactions, resistance to sexual violence and oppression, but more importantly their agency and how they sparked that civil rights movement.”

Dash was brought on to direct having had experience with telling the story of the civil rights activist. She directed the 2002 CBS TV movie The Rosa Parks Story, which starred Angela Bassett.

“I jumped at the opportunity to dive head first back into the Rosa Parks story,” Dash told Deadline. “Doing the CBS movie, I realized that there was so much more to her life, legacy, and her activism that we didn’t have time in one [movie]. It was fascinating and just as dramatic as the Montgomery bus boycott, which is what she’s known for, but there is so much more.” History

Per Dash, the film will not only center on Park’s efforts, but also the many other female activists who banded together to defend Taylor and demand justice for the crime (the perpetrators were never arrested, and Taylor’s case was dismissed).

“This is a great opportunity to revisit Jo Anne Robinson, Recy Taylor, all the people who never really make it intoThe Rosa Parks Story,” Dash said. “It’s an ensemble cast of feisty activists who changed the course of history” and laid the foundation for future civil rights demonstrations.

Dash underscored the significance of telling authentic stories through an authentic perspective. “It’s important that black women, who know these stories and have intimate knowledge, that we tell these stories in the manner that they were meant to be told… It’s time to see theses stories in a new light and through a female lens.”

Beyond that, said Rosenberg, it’s essential “to understand the importance of people to have this platform and this space to create and tell their stories” to start a conversation. “Out of that incredible and potential collaboration is harmony,” she said.

VARIOUSOne why this story, and others like it, can still be relevant in the current societal climate, Dash offered, “One of the reasons this story is being told is so that people can connect the dots and see that there’s a continuum.” She continued: “Maybe it’s not the back of the bus, but the hypocrisy is the same, the racism is the same, the systemic oppression is the same, and the rape cases are absolutely the same.” Dash said she hope those who see the film will be inspired “with what has been accomplished in the past” and motivated to “understand the bigger picture.”

“There so many things that are happening today that run parallel,” she said.

The film is in its early stages, with a production start date eyed for 2018,  but the filmmakers are optimistic about the project’s reception. “I think it’ll be a wonderful festival movie and we have high hopes for what it can do globally,” said Rosenberg. “We feel that the story is not just a domestic story… we feel encouraged by what we think is going to be the response.”

Dash has left indelible marks of her own in history. With her 1991 film Daughters Of The Dust, she become the first African American woman to have her feature released in theaters in the U.S.; the film is being preserved by the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress and inducted into the Sundance Collection. More recently, she has directed multiple episodes of the OWN/Ava DuVernay series Queen Sugar,which returns with the second half of Season 2 next month.


Renowned Filmmaker, Visual Artist and Author Julie Dash Named Spelman College Distinguished Professor in the Arts

8660ATLANTA (Sept. 21, 2017) — Groundbreaking and multi-award-winning filmmaker Julie Dash, M.F.A., brings her unique tapestry of bold and boundary-spanning storytelling to Spelman College as the Distinguished Professor in the Arts.

As a member of the faculty in the new Department of Art & Visual Culture, the filmmaker will use her distinctive approach to visual art to help develop the new documentary filmmaking major. In keeping with Spelman’s focus on interdisciplinary studies, Dash will engage with faculty across several disciplines as she teaches and mentors documentary film majors in the yearlong program.

“Julie is a sophisticated storyteller, a pioneering filmmaker and that rare Black woman who has made films over several decades that span many types of television projects and installations as well as films,” said Ayoka Chenzira, Ph.D., Spelman division chair for the arts, chair of the Department of Art & Visual Culture and founding director of the Digital Moving Image Salon. “Julie has made an indelible mark on the world and continues to do so while being grounded in a deep love of Black culture, a deep commitment to our history, a deep respect for Black women, and a deep desire to be a part of shaping the next generation of Black women filmmakers.”

Dash’s passion for telling cinematic stories with authenticity was evidenced when she broke through racial and gender boundaries with her 1991, Sundance award-winning film, “Daughters of the Dust.” The film’s release earned Dash a place in history as the first African-American woman to have a wide theatrical release of her feature film. She has continued her work as a trailblazing and in-demand artist by writing and directing for CBS, BET, Encore, Starz, Showtime, MTV and HBO. Dash has directed a number of award-winning films and served as a film director for museums, theater, music videos, commercials for global brands and documentaries. She directed multiple episodes of the television drama “Queen Sugar” for the OWN network. “Queen Sugar” returns to the air October 3.

The consistent thread throughout Dash’s multifaceted work as an independent filmmaker, author and educator is her mastery of original, daring and visionary storytelling, which she will use to help shape Spelman students’ experiences in using their voices to tell their own stories.

“I was very attracted to working with talented young women of color and getting in on the ground floor of a program with so much focus on digital arts, technology and culture as it pertains to Black women and the African diaspora,” said Dash. “I jumped at the opportunity to work with the remarkable Digital Moving Image Salon, which is both exciting and different from any other program at higher education institutions. I also look forward to exploring with the students the many different approaches to documentary filmmaking that the department encourages.”

Dash plans to place an emphasis on students developing an understanding of composition as a mechanism for effective storytelling. In addition, she will integrate various technologies into the classes, including the growing area of mobile filmmaking to help students tell evocative narratives. Dash’s students will use mobile phones and tablets to ensure they can take advantage of virtually every opportunity to capture content.

“I am grateful that the ancestors placed me in the precise moment in time to learn from an incredible storyteller like Julie Dash,” said Eva Dickerson, C’2019, a double major in economics and comparable women’s studies. “She is already teaching us the importance of controlling our own narrative and doing so in a unique way. Professor Dash teaches students that we have a responsibility to tell our stories and others’ stories in an authentic voice.”

The Office of the President, the Office of the Provost and the Department of Art & Visual Culture present the campus talk, “Smuggling Daydreams into Reality: An Evening with Filmmaker and Distinguished Professor Julie Dash,” Thursday, Sept. 28, at 6:30 p.m., in the Baldwin Burroughs Theater. The event is free and open to the public.


Press release via Spelman College

Queen Sugar at TriBeCa

Can’t make it to Urbanworld Film Festival on 9/23 to see Ava DuVernay, Rutina Wesley, Dawn-Lyen Gardner, Kofi Siriboe, and episodes 209 & 210 director Julie Dash?  While that is indeed tragic, don’t worry because you’ll have another chance!  You can catch some of the cast and crew at the Tribeca TV Festival on 9/24.

Tickets on-sale now:

NYC Queen Sugar Event!

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Founded in 1997 by Stacy Spikes, the Urbanworld Film Festival is one of the largest internationally competitive festivals of its kind.  Urbanworld advances the inclusion and impact of diverse content creators by providing a platform that highlights storytelling from around the world and fosters a community of distinct voices.

As a five-day festival, it is anchored in film, and showcases narrative and documentary features, short films, spotlight screenings and conversations, and live staged screenplay readings.

So, what better opportunity to screen the Mid-Season premiere of Queen Sugar?!  NYC this is your chance to join Ava DuVernay, Rutina Wesley, Dawn-Lyen Gardner, Kofi Siriboe, and episodes 209 & 210 director Julie Dash on 9/23.

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