African Oscar Award! AMAA 2016

Spirits of Rebellion was in competition at the AMAA Awards (African Movie Academy Awards, aka the African Oscars) in Port Hartcourt, Nigeria on June 11, 2016. It was seen by an international jury of 12 who came from Nigeria, Ghana, USA, South Africa, Great Britain and Burkina Faso.  We won Best Diaspora Documentary! It is a very lovely statue!

Zeinabu accepted the award and gave a short speech; the ceremony was broadcast to over 100 million people in 21 countries in Africa. Here is the Youtube link to the ceremony. It’s long, but the speech is at 3:10:20

Zeinabu has been to West Africa several times, but this was her first trip to Nigeria and it won’t be her last.  It was also a wonderful experience because unlike our Academy Awards here in the United States, there were 4 additional women directors who won major awards – best documentary, best Diaspora feature, best animation and best Nigerian feature. She got to meet and make friends with two of the other directors and it was indeed very affirming and inspiring!

The film has also been selected for the BlackStar Festival in Philadelphia, August 3-7 (also in juried competition), screening on Sunday, August 7 at 4:40 pm at International House in Philadelphia, PA (Zeinabu’s hometown) and Black Harvest in Chicago, August 26-28. IMG_3547.jpg

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Festival Premiere Today – February 6, 5:30 pm

Are you all ready for the unofficial but official “LA Rebellion Film Movement” Day, today Saturday, February 6th in Los Angeles!  This is a reminder of things that are happening and some updates on “Spirits”.
Did you know that there is also a new book about the L.A. Rebellion Film Movement?
Co-editor Allyson Field will be sharing her birthday with us at the Eso Won Bookstore for a signing of L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema published by University of California Press from 2-4 pm. Fellow co-editors, Jan-Christopher Horak and Jacqueline Stewart will be there as well as LA Rebellion maker and Leimert Park icon Ben Caldwell!

Spirits of Rebellion will have its festival premiere at the Pan African Film Festival on Saturday, February 6 at 5:30 pm at the Rave Cinemas 15, (formerly the Magic Johnson Theaters) Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Theater 8.  It will be followed by a panel discussion with four filmmakers at 7pm in the same theater.  Tickets for this screening/panel are $20.
Fellow LA Rebellion maker Billy Woodberry has 2 new films – And When I Die, I Won’t Stay Dead with Marseille Apres la Guerre  playing at PAFF at 9:30 pm also in Theater 8, Sat. Feb. 6.
Spirits will play again the following Friday, February 12 at 2 pm, also at the Rave Cinemas 15. It will be on Screen 9 and the admission price that day is $10.75.
Also, the film will play at the Portland (Oregon) Black Film Festival, Saturday, February 20th, 2:30 pm, Hollywood Theater, Tickets: $5.
The content of the film is the same as it was in the November screening.  We were able to do some more color correction and sound work, but we are still in the process of trying to raise money to do a final sound mix/color correction/graphics for the film. We are actively looking for festivals and distribution opportunities.
It is a very different festival/distribution world than it was less than 3 years ago.  You really need connections just to get into a festival now.  If you know of or have connections with festival directors or staff that would be receptive to screening “Spirits” please share them with us.  We need the help!
We tried to get into Sundance, Independent Lens PBS series and California Newsreel for educational distribution, but were turned down by all these entities.  Any leads or introductions to influential contacts will be greatly appreciated. Festival entry fees are averaging about $100 an entry, so we can’t enter as many as we would like.  We are waiting to hear back from Tribeca, Full Frame, Hot Docs & San Francisco Film Festivals.
Thank you for your continued support and hope to see some of you again at some of the activities this weekend!
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Festival Premiere! PAFF February 6, 2016 5:10pm Rave Cinemas, LA

Hello all,

Very excited to finally announce that we have a festival premiere for Spirits of Rebellion: Black Cinema from UCLA.  The 100 minute documentary has been chosen to be a Spotlight film at the 24th Annual Pan African Film Festival at the Rave Cinemas in Los Angeles on Saturday, February 6th at 5:10 pm.  After the film, there will be an hour long panel with 4 filmmakers moderated by our co-producer and videographer, D. Andy Rice.  The evening will also feature the screening of two new films by legendary LA Rebellion maker, Billy Woodberry at 9:00pm.  Please see for ticket information and more details on the festival.

Spirits has also been chosen to screen at the Portland Black Film Festival on Saturday, February 20th.  More details soon, but please spread the word to any friends that you may have there.

Finally, the book, L.A.Rebellion Creating a New Black Cinema edited by Allyson Nadia Field, Jan-Christopher Horak and Jacqueline Najuma Stewart is now available through the University of California Press.

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Light at the end of the tunnel!

Hello all,

It has been a very long time since we have posted to our blog, but we want to let everyone know that we are still working on the film and are moving steadily towards our World Premiere date of Sunday, November 15th at the Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.

This past week we interviewed Vice Provost for Education, Dr. Patricia A. Turner, UCLA on the value of public higher education and access to media education that was so important for all of the LA Rebellion makers.  We also had the wonderful opportunity to interview the very gracious and legendary, Charles Burnett.  Please see our Facebook page for some behind the scenes production stills.

We will do better and post updates more regularly as we get closer to finishing the film.

In the meantime, please like and check our Facebook page, “Spirits of Rebellion: Black Cinema from UCLA” for more regular updates.

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Back at work

We’re moving forward on editing the project.  Please stay tuned!

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An introduction to Spirits of Rebellion

Spirits of Rebellion documents the lives and work of a small group of critically acclaimed, but as of yet relatively unknown group of black filmmakers and media artists known as the Los Angeles Rebellion, the first sustained movement in the United States by a collective of minority filmmakers that aimed to reimagine the production process so as to represent, reflect on, and enrich the day to day lives of people in their own communities.  All of the filmmakers associated with this movement attended UCLA between the “Watts riots” of 1965 and the “urban uprising” in Los Angeles that followed the Rodney King verdict in 1992, but black film students at UCLA and beyond continue to look to this group of filmmakers for inspiration, filmmaking advice, and practical guidance.  Independent filmmakers, grassroots media makers, and various media artists in the US have found the example of the LA Rebellion School of Filmmakers to be an inspiring example of commitment to the medium of film as a tool for imaginative art and transformative storytelling.  Following from the Ethnocommunications Program at UCLA (1968-1972), an experimental affirmative action initiative which created a space for ethnically Latino, Asian, Native American, and African students to collaborate on the production of films, student filmmakers of color remade the university and production process in ways that addressed their shared, though rarely discussed, sense of how to work together and why it was important to make films.  Headlined by Julie Dash, Charles Burnett, Haile Gerima, Billy Woodberry, Barbara McCullough, Ben Caldwell, Larry Clark, and Jamaa Fanaka, the LA Rebellion filmmakers collectively imagined and created a black cinema against the conventions of Hollywood and Blaxploitation films by attending to the quiet moments of everyday life in their communities, and paying homage to the dignity of their characters.

Spirits of Rebellion will address a series of questions about what we might learn from the LA Rebellion today.  As is often the case, the moniker LA Rebellion was one conceived not by the filmmakers themselves, but by critics trying to name a group of films, in retrospect, that shared a common spirit.  Nonetheless, the sense of community fostered by overlapping hopes for social and political change, and the collaborative work process that the filmmakers developed continues to connect them to one another, while informing the lives of those who chose not to pursue a career in film production.  Through intimate interviews with the filmmakers, archival research, and discussions with younger black artists, Spirits of Rebellion inquires into the future of a media-based social movement that started in the 1960s.  How do the filmmakers assess the successes and failures of their efforts to create alternative cinematic forms for political ends?  In what ways do they see their films expressing these aims?  Where and how does the spirit of this movement manifest itself today, and what kinds of work practices innovated through the LA Rebellion might inform the principles of marginalized cinema collectives of the future?  What are the long-term impacts of the public programs that enabled these filmmakers to access the resources to make films as students, and how should these insights inform future policies for funding the production of art and culture?  Against the backdrop of cuts to social services and public education globally, transformations in the process of producing and distributing media, and growing wealth gaps in cities throughout the globe, it is an unusually poignant and urgent moment to reflect on the legacy of the LA Rebellion.

When finished, Spirits of Rebellion will be a multi-platform, transmedia project.  Though based on a 90 minute documentary, the project will also include a twenty minute version for use in high schools and community discussion groups, and a website with an historical timeline, video profiles of individual filmmakers, teaching guides, and brief clips designed to catalyze discussion about issues of race, class, gender, California history, and community based media production.  The project is also associated with scholars of the UCLA Film and Television Archive, who have recently restored a number of the filmmakers’ prints, conducted oral history interviews with many of the participants in the movement, and published the authoritative book about history and significance of the LA Rebellion.  A 72 minute rough cut of Spirits of Rebellion screened at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles on Saturday, October 8th, 2011 at 4 pm as part of a three month long retrospective of approximately 30 of the LA Rebellion films.  This retrospective is currently touring archives and film forums internationally, and the work in progress cut of Spirits has screened at universities in Chicago, Milwaukee, San Diego, and Los Angeles.  We have conducted interviews with approximately 30 filmmakers and scholars associated with the movement, and are currently raising funds to conduct archival research, complete shooting, and edit the project.  Please contact us at if you would like to make a financial contribution to the project, or if you would like to organize a teach in or screening for the group you represent.   Thank you!

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Please feel free to share your thoughts.  Thank you for watching!

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