All Articles Tagged "documentary"

FREE CeCe! OITNB’s Laverne Cox Co-Produces Doc On Trans Woman CeCe McDonald

December 31st, 2013 - By Veronica Wells
Share to Twitter Email This
free cece

Source: Tumblr

Have we told you lately, how much we love the women of the Netflix series, “Orange Is The New Black?” Of course we have but it never gets tired. And today, we’re adding another reason on the long list. If you’re a fan of the show, you know the character Sophia Burset, the hair stylist who happens to be a trans woman. The character is played by Laverne Cox, who is also a trans woman in real life.

Cox is taking on what we’re sure she’d call a passion project in co-producing a new documentary about CeCe McDonald. You may remember we’ve covered McDonald a couple of times in the past few years. But here’s a refresher of her story.

On June 5, 2011, two white women and a white man began harassing CeCe and four of her trans friends. They were calling them racial and homophobic slurs. Allegedly, one woman hit CeCe in the face with a glass of beer. Afterward the man, Dean Schmitz pursued CeCe and she fatally stabbed with him a pair of fabric scissors in her purse.

When police arrived, CeCe was the only one arrested though she was visibly injured. We reported last year:

The young woman received 11 stitches after her salivary gland was lacerated and the side of her cheek was sliced open by the beer mug, and according to reports she was interrogated without counsel and placed in solitary confinement, pending the outcome of her upcoming case.

Many were already outraged about the injustices surrounding her arrest. And people were even more up in arms when CeCe, who pled guilty to second degree murder, was sentenced to three years and five months in a male prison.

More discrimination and injustice.

There is a bright spot in this story though, not only has the Minnesota Department of Corrections indicated that CeCe may be released from prison on January 13, 2014, now the world will have a chance to hear her story in the new documentary FREE CeCe!

The documentary, which has already begun production, will detail CeCe’s life and highlight the issues that plague trans women and specifically trans women of color. In an interview with Persephone Magazine, Laverne Cox, explained why she felt it was so important to tell CeCe’s story.

CeCe’s story is one that should have been covered more in the press. Trans women, particularly trans women of color, experience disproportionate amounts of violence and not enough is being done to eradicate that violence. CeCe’s story in so many ways encapsulates the intersectional issues that lead to far too many of us experiencing violence. I wanted to do a piece that explores the nature of how race, class and gender affect violence towards trans women and also give CeCe a space to tell her story in her words in the context of a piece that truly values the lives of trans women of color.

Cox also explained the intersection between the oppression women, black women and trans women all experience in this country.

I feel that at the heart of the intersections of transphobia and misogyny, transmisogny, is the policing of womanhood. That policing is about the idea that there are just one or two ways to be a woman. Various forms of violence are a key component in that policing. All too often, historically women of color particularly black women have been subject to being told we aren’t really women, this is both for trans and nontrans black women. So our womanhood as well as our humanity are often not valued, our voices silenced. Violence is a part of that silencing, not hiring trans women for jobs is part of that violence, forcing far too many of us into street economies which make us more likely to be victims of violence. Because our lives are not valued, all too often our perpetrators get away with crimes against us. Black bodies are often assumed to be criminal. These systems are in place to see to it that trans folks of color don’t exist by de-legitimizing our existences, economic injustice and through violence. The prison system is part of that violence.

And then she shared how learning of CeCe’s story will help her to play the role of Sophia on “Orange Is The New Black.”

I was struck by CeCe’s sense of hope and faith, her amazing resilience in the face of an injustice that [took] her freedom, because she survived the violence far too many women like her don’t survive, her humanity is deeply intact in the face of a system which wants to deny that humanity. I think that is at the heart of Orange is the New Black, a group of women who maintain their humanity within a context which would constantly like to strip them of that humanity.

The documentary is set to be released sometime in 2014. If you’re interested in supporting CeCe McDonald herself, you can donate here. If you’re interested in supporting the documentary project FREE CeCe!, you can do so here.

Be A Man: How The Mask Of Masculinity Hurts Us All

December 30th, 2013 - By Prudence
Share to Twitter Email This


I spent this past Christmas at my cousin’s house, with her 1 year old son, husband and 4 month old daughter. On the second or third night we were there, her son had a micro fit and cried, like toddlers have been known to do. And his father was there to help him work through that. He said a few things to get him to calm down. Everything was cool but the one sentence that stood out was “Big boys don’t cry.” Ummm… That’s not my child so I didn’t say anything. But it did immediately rub me the wrong way. And thankfully, my cousin said, “Don’t tell him that boys don’t cry.” And her husband countered, “I said, big boys don’t cry. Big boys don’t cry.”


One, not only is that not true. Baby boys, big boys and men do cry. And secondly, it is healthy and cathartic for boys and men to cry. It’s a shame that the expression of emotion, of being human, has been stigmatized as being weak or feminine–which sadly, people still largely interpret as weak.

This is just one of the more recent examples of how I’ve seen the many detrimental ways in which boys have been trained and reared to repress their emotions and express their masculinity. So, I’m happy to see that the folks at the Representation Project, the same people who brought us the MissRepresentation documentary, are producing another documentary exploring the ways in which the socialization of boys not only negatively affects boys and men but how it impacts all of us.

Take a look at the clip from the upcoming 2014 documentary in the video below.

Pass Or Play: Full Audio of Beyonce’s Ode To Blue Ivy, “God Made You Beautiful”

November 23rd, 2013 - By Drenna Armstrong
Share to Twitter Email This

Well, this was the moment all of the Beyoncé fans and stans had been waiting on for months. The moment when another full song would be released. It finally happened on Friday and now the question is, does it live up to the hype?

We gave you a short clip of Beyoncé’s “God Made You Beautiful” last month and from that sneak peek, many of you weren’t too impressed.  But with the Life is But A Dream documentary set to be released in days, it seems her team decided it was okay to let the one new song featured on the dvd “leak” to the masses.

In “God Made You Beautiful,” Bey talks not only about the moment Blue was born, but also what life has been like and how she’s changed Beyoncé since being born”

You were bought into my life

I kiss those little feet and watch for your perfect smile

and when it comes the world stops in your eyes

I found love, I found peace of the purest kind

It is alleged that Bey wrote the song herself because, hey, who knows this particular experience better than her? The lyrics are nice and there are some nice harmonies, but overall, it seems like it’s missing that special “something.” Maybe it’s just me.

As a matter of fact, who cares what I think! The bigger question is to you…pass or play?

“Sweet Dreams” Rwandan Women Heal Their Country With Drumming & Ice Cream

October 22nd, 2013 - By Veronica Wells
Share to Twitter Email This

sweet dreams

Despite watching movies like Hotel Rwanda, many of us will never understand what it’s like to live in a country so racked by genocide that nearly a million people were killed in the course of 100 days. That was the case in 1994, when the Hutus went after the Tutsis in the East African country Rwanda. Even though this mass murder ended nearly twenty years ago, the healing need from those atrocities is still taking place.

Enter the stars of the documentary Sweet Dreams, Ingoma Nshya, an all female drumming troupe made up of both Hutus and Tusis. Traditionally, in Rwanda women are not allowed to even touch a drum. It’s an activity reserved for men; but in an effort to usher in a new era, these women have partnered together and formed a drum circle.

Drumming is just the first part in these ladies’ plan to further unite the country. The group partners with American entrepreneurs to open the country’s first ice cream shop. The documentary, Sweet Dreams, follows the women as they embrace independence, peace and hopefulness as the women tell their stories of creating music and mending their country’s wounds.

Ice cream may seem like a vehicle too simple to impact real change; but for a country that has only seen and heard about the treat in movies, bringing it to Rwanda is something special.

Check out the trailer for the film below.

Sweet Dreams will be showing in New York on Friday, November 1 and in Los Angeles on Friday, November 29th.


Hova Heads To TV: Jay Z’s ‘Made in America’ Doc Coming To Showtime

September 8th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
Share to Twitter Email This
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Jay Z announcing Budweiser Made in America in 2012. WENN

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Jay Z announcing Budweiser Made in America in 2012. WENN

Jay Z is taking over Showtime–for one night at least.

The premium cable network has acquired Made in America, a star-studded documentary that chronicles Jay Z’s two-day 2012 Philadelphia music festival of the same name, reports The Hollywood Reporter. Directed by Ron Howard and executive produced by Jay Z himself, the doc will have its television debut Friday, Oct. 11. This will be roughly a month after the film’s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7.

“As soon as we saw this film we knew it was a perfect fit for Showtime,” Showtime’s entertainment president David Nevins said in a statement. “Ron Howard and Jay Z have crafted an inspirational portrayal of American resilience, drive and creativity, interwoven with an incredible showcase of musical talent.”

Passion Pit, Pearl Jam, Run D.M.C., Skrillex and Kanye West are just some of the diverse artists who perform and also discuss “making it in America” in the film.

“For Jay Z, the news comes the same week that the rapper made headlines for debuting his music video for ‘Holy Grail,’ a collaboration with Justin Timberlake, on Facebook,” reports THR. It became the first clip by a major music star to premiere on the social network, and it had  a 24-hour window of exclusivity.

The Showtime and Facebook deals are just some of Jay Z’ s recent business moves. He also sealed a $30 million partnership with Samsung and has pushed into the sports agency business.

Will you watch the Jay Z documentary?

Made For TV: Jay Z’s “Made In America” Documentary Heads To Showtime!

September 1st, 2013 - By Drenna Armstrong
Share to Twitter Email This
"Made In America"

Source: Twitter

The 2013 Made In America Festival is going on right now but it’s last year’s show that continues to bring Jay Z money.

Cable network Showtime has acquired Made In America, the documentary chronicling Jay’s road to creating the music festival to actual seeing it happen. The film was directed by former Happy Days star and famed director Ron Howard according to The Hollywood Reporter. Both he and Jay serve as two of the executive producers of the film along with Brian Grazer.

Showtime, over the last two years, has been dedicated in revitalizing their programming and this will certainly help them out with ratings and also bringing in a younger demographic.  David Nevins, Showtime’s entertainment released the following statement regarding the new project:

“As soon as we saw this film we knew it was a perfect fit for Showtime. Ron Howard and Jay Z have crafted an inspirational portrayal of American resilience, drive and creativity, interwoven with an incredible showcase of musical talent. We are proud to bring Made in America to Showtime where it joins our impressive roster of provocative and compelling documentaries helmed by award-winning filmmakers.”

That Jay Z…he just keeps the deals coming.  There was the deal with Samsung to release his latest album, Magna Carter Holy Grail, early to Samsung cell phone users, then the deal with HBO which premiered the Picasso Baby: A Short Art Film three weeks ago and now he’s added Showtime to the list. Jay also premiered his “Holy Grail” video on Facebook earlier in the week. In the words of Jay, he’s a “business man, not a businessman.”

Made In America will first premiere at the Toronto Film Festival on September 7th and then released to the world on Showtime on Friday, October 11th.

Check out the trailer!

Reporter Natalie Moore Speaks On The Real Issues Behind Chicago Gun Violence

August 1st, 2013 - By Brande Victorian
Share to Twitter Email This


When it comes to gun violence in Chicago, there’s been a lot of finger pointing and little analysis done to determine the root causes of such behavior and solutions to stop it going forward. Moguldom Films is currently working on a documentary to do just that, and in the midst of filming they came across reporter Natalie Moore. The native Chicagoan is all too familiar with the issues plaguing young people in her city and in the clip below she addresses just a few of those that have seemingly been overlooked.

Check out her comments and tell us what you think about the issues she brought up. Are they legitimate points or excuses in the war on gun violence?

For more on the up coming documentary about gun violence, follow @MoguldomFilms via Twitter, Instagram, and subscribe on YouTube.

Spike Lee Talks Trayvon Martin, Fruitvale Station, And Why Critics Of His Kickstarter Campaign Are Ludicrous

July 26th, 2013 - By Brande Victorian
Share to Twitter Email This

Spike Lee is quickly making his media rounds in effort to raise interest in, and more importantly, funds for his recently launched Kickstarter Campaign. Though he's not giving many details on what the film is about, when Mr. Lee came into our studio, he assured us the movie will not be "the Black Twilight," which we have to admit was a relief for us all.

Something this famed director wasn't hesitant to talk about were his thoughts on this summer's films, included the much talked about "Fruitvale Station." Spike Lee also weighed in on the Trayvon Martin case and whether he would ever consider directing a film on him. Check out what this legend in the film industry had to say on all the above and more in the video up top.

What do you think about Spike Lee's latest cinematic venture?

How My Black Is Beautiful’s “Imagine A Future” Documentary Proves The Cycle Of Self-Hate Can Be Broken

July 8th, 2013 - By Veronica Wells
Share to Twitter Email This


I’ve always had much respect for Proctor and Gamble’s “My Black Is Beautiful” campaign. After all it was started by six black women at the company and they do good work. And while the campaign seeks to uplift black women, I also realize it’s a way for P&G to continue to make money. Now, I’m not mad at them. We all want to make money. But since they are trying to make money, I’ll admit that I process their media differently than I would other P&G advertising. I’m constantly watching to make sure it’s still honest and that we, black women, aren’t being further exploited by another huge corporation.

And I can honestly say I haven’t seen that. The campaign has been run quite nicely. And that track record of fairness didn’t falter when they released a documentary entitled “Imagine a Future.”

Directed and produced by filmmaking heavy hitters like Lisa Cortes, Academy Award nominated for her producing role in Precious, directed by Shola Lynch, director of Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners and executive produced by “Black Girls Rock” founder Beverly Bond, the film had the right people behind the project.

And all of that came across in the story which follows Janet Goldsboro, a high school student who struggles with beauty and self esteem issues. Throughout the documentary we watch as Janet transforms when she visits South Africa to learn about the historical and societal context associated with being a black woman.

During her trip Janet learns about beauty standards that vary and are similar to the ones she’s been grown up with in the U.S. Her South African friend tells her that nobody wants to be skinny in South Africa but when she goes to the market, she sees how many places sell skin bleaching cream. There she learns about the earliest human ancestors, found in Africa and learns the tragic story of Sarah Baartman as she visited her gravesite.

After her trip to South Africa the change in Janet was visible. She went from a girl who was insecure about her looks and self confidence to a young woman who actively sought the standards of beauty that best matched her own. She started researching the history that was left out of her school’s curriculum so by knowing the truth of her past she could take pride in the young woman she is today.

Interspersed between Janet’s inspirational story, we hear black women like Gabourey Sidibe, Michaela Angela Davis, Tatyana Ali, Melissa Harris-Perry and Gabby Douglass talk about achieving their own self confidence and what makes them beautiful. It may sound cheesy but it was powerful. So powerful in fact that my mom leaned over to my sister and I and asked “why our black was beautiful?” We had to tell her not to ask the stranger sitting next to her because it really is a loaded question. The film really makes you think about your own levels of self confidence and beauty standards affect your everyday lives.

I walked out of the filming feeling hopeful and uplifted. Not to use one to tear down another but in many ways “Imagine A Future” filled the holes that “Dark Girls” didn’t. It talked about the lack of self esteem, the beauty standards many black women don’t meet but it also showed how that cycle can be broken. How these feelings don’t have to be permanent. And how, at the end of the day, we can be the solutions to our own insecurities.

Check out the trailer for the documentary on the next page.

Tika Sumpter Relays Her Experience As A Brown Girl In Hollywood In Post-‘Dark Girls’ Essay

June 25th, 2013 - By Brande Victorian
Share to Twitter Email This
Source: WENN

Source: WENN

Sunday night’s airing of “Dark Girls” on OWN drew a lot of differing responses, from women who could completely identify with the individuals highlighted in the documentary, to others who were grateful they couldn’t relate at all. Yesterday we pointed out what we thought was missing from the film, which was the experience of darker skinned women who never had issues with their complexion and actress Tika Sumpter has filled that gap with an essay she wrote in the Daily Beast in response to the film.

Tika begins her piece highlighting her brown-skinned experience in childhood, saying:

One of my favorite childhood memories is of listening to my mother describe the look on my father’s face the day I was born. Whenever my mother shares this story, she somehow manages to re-create it with images so vivid, I can simply close my eyes and feel as if I were still there cuddled in her arms.

It’s important to understand that I was born into a family with seven children, each of us equipped with varying personalities, dispositions, and, yes, skin tones as well. My mom has the most beautiful café au lait complexion, which she shares with my two older sisters and older brother. My three younger siblings have skin tones that range from caramel to a golden bronze.

And then there’s me.

My mother says that when my father, a striking man with kind eyes, broad shoulders, and deep ebony-brown skin, first saw me in the hospital that day, his eyes lit up brightly as he promptly proclaimed, “She has my color. She looks like me!”

The actress then goes on to relate that upbringing to the women featured in “Dark Girls” and what her experience as a dark skinned woman in Hollywood has been.

I was recently reminded of my childhood as I watched the amazing documentary Dark Girls. My heart broke just listening to the stories of so many young girls with brown skin traumatized by the cruel and hurtful views of those around them. I experienced that same emotion when I began my role as Raina Thorpe on the popular CW show Gossip Girl a few years back. I was truly unprepared for the tremendous impact I’d have while on that show. Each week I’d get the tons of letters from mothers, grandmothers, and young girls literally thanking me for simply existing. They wrote me saying they’d never seen a woman that looked like me on television before. Which really meant they’d never seen anyone that looked like them before. And it got much deeper than that. Some fans even remarked that they’d never witnessed any woman with my skin color speak the way I spoke, have a successful career the way I had on that show, or carry themselves in such a ladylike manner. Translation: in the very make-believe land of television and movies, women with darker skin aren’t smart enough to speak proper English or capable enough to be employed with a six-figure salary. And we most certainly can’t be ladylike. What complete nonsense!

Of course I did experienced my share of hurtful reactions to my skin color, but thankfully only after I was an adult. Who hasn’t heard the obligatory, “You’re pretty for a dark-skin girl”? Or my personal favorite, “I usually don’t date dark-skin women, but you’re so beautiful.” That one really warms the heart. But in reality, the most disturbing aspect of all of this is that those comments were most often made by men with exactly the same skin tone as my own.

Still, I always knew there were far too many other people who saw my beauty and embraced every part of me with open arms to think twice about what was said. It hurts me to know that so many young girls today are growing up without that same realization and reassurance. I also regret that so many are forced to seek their self-worth between the pages of mainstream magazines or in the background of a rap music video. I’d like to think that seeing someone like me on their televisions every week gives them some hope that things are changing slowly but surely. Finally, every day I’m thankful that I didn’t have to endure the pain that I know so many women do on a regular basis as a result of the color of their skin. My heart goes out to them all. And every day I’m even more thankful for a mother who was always there for me and a father (now deceased) whose first reaction to me on the day I was born paved my path to real self-love.

Check out more of her of Tika’s essay on What do you think?