Zeinabu irene Davis

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Zeinabu irene Davis
UCSD Zeinabu Davis Picture.JPG
Born (1961-04-13) April 13, 1961 (age 58)
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 of the Department of Communication[1] at the University of California, San Diego. Her works in film include narrative, documentary and experimental film.[2]

Personal life, education, and career[edit]

Born in Philadelphia, Zeinabu irene Davis, gravitated towards arts, "theater and education" (Field et. al, 19). With a Catholic school background, Davis studied at Brown University, then later travelled to Kenya, which furthered her interest in African American Studies. Furthermore, 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 both 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.[3] She has taught at many renowned colleges such as Antioch College and Northwestern University, but has more recently moved to teach at UC San Diego, where she currently serves as Professor of Communications (cinema.ucla.edu).


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".[4] Furthermore, Davis was part of 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 L.A Rebellion, 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.


Her film Compensation won the Gordon Parks Directing Award from the Independent Feature Project in New York.[5] It was also screened at the Sundance Festival in 2002.[5] It tells a parallel story of two deaf black women, one at the turn of the century and one in the later 20th century.[5] 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, including the Gordan Parks Award for Best Director from the Independent Feature Project" (cinema.ucla.edu). In 2017, her film "Spirits of Rebellion" was awarded for Best Documentary Feature Film at the San Diego Film Awards.[6]


Year Title Contribution Notes
1982 Filmstatement Director
1983 Recreating Black Women's Media Image Director
1986 Crocodile Conspiracy Director
1987 Sweet Bird of Youth[7] Director 5-minute short film
1987 Canta for Our Sisters Director
1989 Cycles[8] Director
1991 A Period Piece Director
1991 A Powerful Thang[9] Director, Producer
1995 Mother of the River Director
1999 Compensation[10] 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[11] Director Best Documentary Feature Film at the 2017 San Diego Film Awards[6]


  1. ^ University of California, San Diego, Department of Communication.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ "Zeinabu irene Davis". Women Make Movies.
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ a b c Lyman, Rick (4 February 2000). "At the movies". New York Times. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Official 2017 San Diego Film Award Winners". San Diego FIlm Award for Best Documentary Feature Film. filmconsortiumsd.com. Retrieved 2017-08-10.
  7. ^ Field, Allyson; Horak, Jan-Christopher; Stewart, Jacqueline Najuma (2015-11-13). L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema. ISBN 9780520284685.
  8. ^ "Cycles".
  9. ^ "Movie Reviews". The New York Times. 2019-09-13.
  10. ^ "Compensation". Sundance Festival.
  11. ^ "Spirits of Rebellion: Black Film at UCLA (2011)". L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema. UCLA Film & Television Archive. Retrieved 2011-10-02.