Zeinabu irene Davis
||This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. (December 2010)|
|Zeinabu irene Davis|
Davis at the University of California, San Diego, 2010
April 13, 1961 |
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Alma mater||Brown University, University of California, Los Angeles|
|Occupation||Director, producer, professor|
|Spouse(s)||Marc Arthur Chéry|
Zeinabu irene Davis is an African-American filmmaker and professor of the Department of Communication  at the University of California, San Diego. Her works in film include narrative, documentary and experimental film. Her husband and daughters inspire Davis's films, which are created to show alternative perspectives from the mainstream.
During her undergraduate career, Davis realized her passion for film-making through an internship experience at PBS in Rhode Island and her experience overseas. Her love for working in the production process is because she is able to control the creation of images. One of her biggest challenges as an African-American woman filmmaker is the high level of difficulty in attaining funding for her films, since investors are apprehensive about funding independent films due to the very competitive nature of such platforms that exist within the film production community.
- 1 Personal life
- 2 Education
- 3 Career
- 4 Themes
- 5 Media Appearances
- 6 Selected Articles
- 7 Filmography
- 8 References
Davis was born in Philadelphia to a working-class family. She became the first in her family to complete college, with the support of her parents, who initially encouraged her to lean towards law due to her argumentative nature.
Upon graduating from high school, Davis was accepted into Brown University, where she started as an International Relations student. She soon realized the major was not for her and decided to create her own. At the time, the university offered a program what gave students of ability the freedom to create a major of their choice. Zeinabu graduated as a Mass Media Images of Third World Peoples. She continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles and received a MFA in Motion Picture/Television Production.
As an undergraduate, Davis spent a year abroad in Kenya. While there, she worked with Ngugi wa Thiong’o on a play he had written, and was involved in actually building a theater, bleachers and an entire set. The first three opening nights drew thousands of people. Sadly, on the third night, the set was bulldozed by the Kenyan government, and the production lacked funds to continue its operation.
During her time in Kenya, Davis observed several filmmakers document the country without involving the people of the region. This observation provided her inspiration for a project she hopes to one day create: to co-direct a feature film on the history of the Kenyan people.
- 1985-89 MFA, Motion Picture/Television Production University of California, Los Angeles
- 1983-85 MA, African Studies Major: African Cinema; Minor: Folklore; University of California, Los Angeles
- 1979-83 BA, Independent Concentration “Mass Media: Images of Third World Peoples”, Brown University
Davis began her career teaching at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio in 1989. In 1991, she moved to teach in the Radio-TV-Film Department at Northwestern University. After teaching several years at Northwestern, Davis moved to San Diego, California to teach at the University of California, San Diego. The move was prompted due to her desire to teach a more diverse group of students. She wanted to give back to a community that was similar the one she grew up in.
- Professor. Department of Communication, University of California, San Diego. 2000 to present. Associate Professor, 1999-2000. Associate Professor.
- Associate Professor. Department of Radio/Television/Film, Northwestern University. 1996-98. Head of Production, 1997-98.
- Preceptor. Institute for Advanced Study and Research in the African Humanities, Program of African Studies, Northwestern University. 1996-1997.
- Visiting Artist. University of Ghana at Legon-Accra. African Humanities Institute, School of Performing Arts, Winter 1997.
- Assistant Professor. Department of Radio/Television/Film, Northwestern University. 1991-1996.
- Visiting Graduate Advisor. Department of Video, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Fall 1997 and Fall 1995.
- Assistant Professor. Institute of Communications and Media Arts, Antioch College. 1989-91.
- Visiting Artist. University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Summer 1988.
Films Throughout Career
Cycles is a 1989 short, experimental, black and white film by Davis. It is a 17 minute film about a woman awaiting her period. The woman goes through a process of cleansing her home and body through African traditions. The film focuses on images of the female body and uses playful stop-motion sequences.
A Period Piece
A Period Piece, in 1991, is a rap video directed by Davis exploring the promises made by advertisements for feminine products. It showcases relatable and embarrassing situations involving such products in a comic way. The video is four minutes long.
Mother of the River
In 1995, Mother of the River is a black and white film that revolves around an African-American slave named Dofimae. The character of Dofimae is a rebellious young girl who is dissatisfied with the oppression of her people. Her mother has been sold to other slave owners, and therefore, she misses the companionship. She befriends a woman that she meets in the woods. The woman calls herself Mother of the River and through her, Dofimae gets an insight into her past and experiences the glorification of her African ancestors. Oral Tradition is a strong theme throughout the film, which provides Dofimae with knowledge of her ancestors.
Compensation is a 1999 film by Davis that depicts two relationships in two different periods of time in Chicago. It was inspired by a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar. A parallel is created between the two relationships as both couples go through different issues within the relationships. The relationship of Malindy and Arthur takes place in the turn of the century during contemporary times while the relationship between Malaika and Nico takes place in Modern Chicago. The characters of Malindy and Malaika are deaf and played by a deaf actress. The film contains long periods of silence and can be understood by both deaf and hearing viewers. The film also showcases the diversity of the black experience sending a message about communication within the black community. Back in time, Malindy and Arthur deal with the issues of education and Arthur eventually becomes sick with Tuberculosis. In the present day part of the film, Malaika is HIV positive.
Co-Motion: Tales of Breastfeeding Women
Co-Motion: Tales of Breastfeeding Woman is 2010, exploring the idea of breastfeeding within society. Davis interviews mothers, fathers and professionals.
Momentum: A Conversation with Black Women on Achieving Advanced Degrees
This another 2010 documentary about black students at the University of California, San Diego and their accomplishments.
In her films, Davis focuses on the lives of African American woman, creating positive images of these woman opposed to the usual stereotypes. Some of her films revolve around femininity and the female body. She also gives viewers a glimpse of romance and intimacy within the African American community in movies such as Compensation and another movie she directed called A Powerful Thang. Davis also uses the idea of oral tradition in Mother of the River, helping the main character and the viewer get an insight into the ways of the African ancestors. She also uses this to glorify the ancestors.
- “These Days: Movie Club on the Air” KPBS radio - Discussion with film critics, Beth Accomondo & Scott Marks on Chris Rock’s documentary, Good Hair– November, 2009.
- ABC Affiliate, Ch. 10 News “Breastfeeding Moms Protest at Delta Airlines” – Reporter Geni Cavitt. November 21, 2006 Segment aired on 5 & 6 pm broadcasts. (Reporter interviews Davis & several moms about the national protest - this news segment appears in video by Davis, Co-Motion)
- "The Lounge", KPBS Radio - Roundtable discussion on Blaxploitation Films with critic and programmer, Scott Marks, September 2004.
- Gallaudet University Television, “A Conversation with Zeinabu Davis and Michelle Banks”, February 2, 2001.
- BBC-Worldwide, September 1999 - NY Gordon Parks Award - Compensation
- City-TV, Toronto, September 1999 - Toronto Film Festival - Compensation
- WITU-FM, Public Radio - Toronto, September 1999 - Toronto Film Festival
- “Black Independent Showcase - Interview and Broadcast of Mother of the River”, BET Stars3! Cable Network, March 1998
- "Migrating to the Movies", Jacqueline Stewart, University of California Press, 2005 (book chapter on Compensation; photo from Compensation used as book cover)
- "Promises to Keep: Cultural Studies, Democratic Education & Public Life" G. Dimitriadis, Routledge, 2003 (Case study of Compensation)
- "I, Too, Sing Hollywood", Hardy, Ernest. L.A. Weekly. Cover Story, October 19, 2000, Special Issue: Black Cinema Now
- “Compensation speaks in a Visual Language”, Elliot, David. The San Diego Union-Tribune. June 1–7, 2000, Night and Day section, page 4.
- “Compensation Rewards”, Thomas, Kevin. Los Angeles Times. February 24, 2000. Calendar Weekend, n.p.
- “Taking a Chance”, Lyman, Rick. New York Times. February 4, 2000. Weekend Movies, Performing Arts, pg. 20.
- “The Chicago Connection”, Ebert, Roger. Chicago Sun-Times. January 25, 2000. Showcase section, page 3.
- The St. James Women Filmmakers Encyclopedia, edited by Amy L. Unterburger, Visible Ink Press, 1999 (biographical entry)
- “Keep your Eyes on this Sparrow: World Premiere Set for Zeinabu Davis’ First Feature Film”, Greggs, LaTicia D. Chicago Defender, Saturday, March 6, 1999, Life/Times section, pgs. 13 &15.
- Women Filmmakers of the African and Asian Diaspora by Gwendolyn Audrey Foster, Southern Illinois University Press, 1997. (Book chapter)
- Film Fatales: Independent Women Filmmakers by Judith M. Redding & Victoria A. Brownsworth, Seal Press, 1997. (Book chapter)
|1983||Recreating Black Women's Media Image||Director|
|1986||Sweet Bird of Youth||Director|
|1987||Canta For Our Sisters||Director|
|1989||Cycles||Director||Best Drama: National Black Programming Consortium; Best Experimental Film: Big Muddy Film Festival; Best of Category: Experimental, Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame|
|1991||Period Piece, AA Period Piece||Director||Honorable Mention: ETA Creative Arts Foundation, African American Women & The Arts Festival, Chicago.|
|1991||Powerful Thang, AA Powerful Thang||Director, Producer||Best Narrative, Lawrence Kasdan Award, 30th Ann Arbor Film Festival, Best Experimental Narrative, ETA Creative Arts Foundation, Chicago, Honorable Mention, Best Original Drama, American Film & Video Association, Honorable Mention, Best Feature, Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, Oakland, Honorable Mention, Best Production Design, Atlanta Film and Video Festival,
Honorable Mention, Best Experimental Narrative, 23rd Sinking Creek Film & Video Festival
|1995||Mother of the River||Director||Best Film and Video, Children’s Jury, 12th Annual Chicago International Children’s Fest
Best Short Feature, 6th New England Children’s Film Festival Best of Category Chris Award, 34th Columbus International Film Festival Gold Award, Films for Family & Children Worldfest Charleston Silver Hugo, Chicago International Film and Video Festival
|1999||Compensation||Director, Producer||2002 Paul Robeson Prize, Best Film, Narrative Section,
Newark Museum 28th Annual Black Film Festival Gordon Parks Award, Best Director, 1999 Independent Feature Market, New York City “Outstanding Film” - Reel Black Award, Black Film & Video Network, Toronto Independent Spirit Award Nomination, Best First Feature under $500k, IFP-West
|2005||Las Abuelas - Latina Grandmothers Explain the World and Other Stories of Faith||Co-director, Producer|
|2005||Trumpetistically, Clora Bryant||Director, Producer|
|2008||Delta Children: Future of the Blues||Co-director|
|2010||Momentum: A Conversation with Black Women on Achieving Graduate Degrees||Director|
|2010||Co-motion: Tales of Breastfeeding Woman||Director|
|2011||Spirits of Rebellion: Black Film at UCLA||Director||Work-in-progress|
- University of California, San Diego, Department of Communication.
- Ogunleye, Foluke (2007). "Transcending the "Dust": African American Filmmakers Preserving the "Glimpse of the Eternal"". College Literature 34 (1): 156–173.
- "Spirits of Rebellion: Black Film at UCLA (2011)". L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema. UCLA Film & Television Archive. Retrieved 2011-10-02