Zeinabu irene Davis

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Zeinabu irene Davis
UCSD Zeinabu Davis Picture.JPG
Born (1961-04-13) April 13, 1961 (age 60)[1]
Alma materBrown University, University of California, Los Angeles
OccupationDirector, producer, professor
Years active1982–present
Spouse(s)Marc Arthur Chéry

Zeinabu irene Davis (born April 13, 1961) is an American filmmaker and professor in the Department of Communication[2] at the University of California, San Diego. Her works in film include narrative, documentary and experimental film.[3]

Personal life, education, and career[edit]

Born in Philadelphia, Zeinabu irene Davis gravitated towards arts, "theater and education".[4] With a Catholic school background, Davis studied at Brown University, then later traveled to Kenya, which furthered her interest in African American Studies. She pursued her first master's degree in 1983 focusing on African studies, later receiving a Master of Fine Arts in film and video production from UCLA in 1989. She has received numerous grants and fellowships from such sources as the Rockefeller Foundation, the American Film Institute and the National Endowment for the Arts.[5] She has taught at many colleges, including Antioch College and Northwestern University, but has more recently moved to teach at UC San Diego, where she currently serves as a Professor of Communication.[1]


As a filmmaker, her films have been categorized as belonging to the genre of Black feminism due to the ways she incorporates the unique experiences of African American women. According to film scholar Gwendolyn Audrey Foster, Davis believes that black filmmakers are "developing a new genre that constitutes a black aesthetic".[6] Furthermore, Davis was part of the L.A. Rebellion, which was a movement involving independent black filmmakers (who attended UCLA) aiming to reproduce alternative, humanizing, and more accurate images of black people unlike classical Hollywood cinema. From her experience of being part of this movement, Davis feels passionately about working within groups or organizations, especially as a beginner. She believes that the dynamic and different perspective help filmmakers grow and develop their unique styles.[citation needed]


Her film Compensation won the Gordon Parks Directing Award from the Independent Feature Project in New York.[7] It was also screened at the Sundance Festival in 2000.[7] It tells a parallel story of two deaf black women, one at the turn of the century and one in the later 20th century.[7] She also won awards from the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame and the National Black Programming Consortium for Cycles (1989), an experimental short film. In addition, her works such as A Period Piece (1991), A Powerful Thang (1991), Mother of a River (1995) and Compensation (1999) "continued to garner her awards from numerous organizations and festivals".[1] In 2017, her film "Spirits of Rebellion" was awarded the Best Documentary Feature Film at the San Diego Film Awards.[8]


Year Title Contribution Notes
1982 Filmstatement Director
1983 Recreating Black Women's Media Image Director
1986 Crocodile Conspiracy Director
1987 Sweet Bird of Youth[4] Director 5-minute short film
1987 Canta for Our Sisters Director
1989 Cycles[9] Director
1991 A Period Piece Director
1991 A Powerful Thang[10] Director, Producer
1995 Mother of the River Director
1999 Compensation[11] Director, Producer
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
2009 Passengers Director, Producer
2010 Momentum: A Conversation with Black Women on Achieving Graduate Degrees Director
2010 Co-motion: Tales of Breastfeeding Woman Director
2015 Spirits of Rebellion: Black Film at UCLA[12] Director Best Documentary Feature Film at the 2017 San Diego Film Awards[8]


  1. ^ a b c "Zeinabu irene Davis". UCLA Film & Television Archive. Retrieved April 19, 2021.
  2. ^ University of California, San Diego, Department of Communication.
  3. ^ Ogunleye, Foluke (2007). "Transcending the "Dust": African American Filmmakers Preserving the "Glimpse of the Eternal"". College Literature. 34 (1): 156–173. doi:10.1353/lit.2007.0008.
  4. ^ a b Field, Allyson; Horak, Jan-Christopher; Stewart, Jacqueline Najuma (2015-11-13). L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema. ISBN 9780520284685.
  5. ^ "Zeinabu irene Davis". Women Make Movies.
  6. ^ Gwendolyn Audrey Foster, 1995, Greenwood Press, Westport (CT) & London, Women Film Directors: An International Bio-Critical Dictionary, Retrieved December 15, 2014, see page(s): 103
  7. ^ a b c Lyman, Rick (4 February 2000). "At the movies". New York Times. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  8. ^ a b "Official 2017 San Diego Film Award Winners". San Diego FIlm Award for Best Documentary Feature Film. filmconsortiumsd.com. Retrieved 2017-08-10.
  9. ^ "Cycles".
  10. ^ "Movie Reviews". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Baseline & All Movie Guide. 2016. Archived from the original on 2016-03-05.
  11. ^ "Compensation". Sundance Festival.
  12. ^ "Spirits of Rebellion: Black Film at UCLA (2011)". L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema. UCLA Film & Television Archive. Retrieved 2011-10-02.