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Second annual Black Women’s Film Conference wraps up final week

Filmmakers convene and screen works online

Colette Greenstein
Colette Greenstein has been a contributing arts & entertainment writer for the Banner since 2009. VIEW BIO
Second annual Black Women’s Film Conference wraps up final week
Still from Gessica Généus’ film “Douvan Jou Ka Leve” (The Sun Will Rise). COURTESY PHOTO

The second annual Black Women’s Film Conference is in its fourth and final week of programming. Presented by the New Negress Film Society (NNFS), the conference “convenes Black women and non-binary filmmakers from all over the world to share work, discuss the craft, exchange filmmaking strategies, and build community.”

This week, the documentaries “Douvan Jou Ka Leve” (The Sun Will Rise), from Gessica Généus, “Practice” directed by Iyabo Kwayana, and Angelique Webster’s debut film, “Respect and LOVE” are currently streaming on the conference website for free through Sunday, Oct. 4.

On the web
The films are streaming for free at

Spoken in Haitian Creole with English subtitles, “Douvan Jou Ka Leve” tells the personal account of Haitian filmmaker and actress Généus’ search to understand the source of her mother’s mental illness and examines what she calls Haiti’s “disease of the soul” — the island nation’s ongoing battle between Vodou and Christianity. The film has won several awards, including the Grand Jury Prize at the International Documentary Film Festival Amazon Caribbean (FIFAC) in 2019, as well as the Documentary Film Grand Prize of the International Human Rights Film Festival of Guadeloupe in 2018.

Webster’s “Respect and LOVE” centers on her mother Gloria reflecting on her past and how Webster’s sexual abuse at the hands of their priest as a teenager — and subsequently suing the Baltimore, Maryland Archdiocese — impacted their lives. The short won the Audience Award at the inaugural African-American Film Festival hosted by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. in 2018.

Kwayana’s beautifully shot and directed colorful 10-minute short “Practice” (in Chinese with  English subtitles) features students near the Shaolin temple in Henan, China engaging in a simple yet rigorous exercise of rehearsal. The recipient of a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship and the Stanley Kramer Fellowship in Film Directing, Kwayana is an assistant professor in the film and media studies department at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Since 2010, she has directed six short films and one feature-length documentary called “Bound”.

On Oct. 1, Généus, Kwayana and Webster will engage in a live conversation titled “Filming the Self” from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on the New Negress Film Society’s Facebook and YouTube pages. The conference’s online closing night party will be DJ’d by New Negress alum Dyani Douze on Oct. 2.

The New Negress Film Society was formed in June of 2013 by Kumi James, Nevline Nnaji, Nuotama Bodomo and Ja’Tovia Gary after a successful screening showcasing their works and those of other Black women filmmakers at Brooklyn Fire Proof in Brooklyn. The NNFS is described as “a collective of Black women and nonbinary filmmakers who organize public programming and produce films that center the voices and experiences of Black nonbinary, women and girls.”