Sojourner Truth Festival of the Arts 2023

Festival Organizers

Allyson Nadia Field (she/her) is associate professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. She is the author of Uplift Cinema: The Emergence of African American Film & The Possibility of Black Modernity (Duke University Press, 2015). She is also co-editor with Marsha Gordon of Screening Race in American Nontheatrical Film (Duke University Press, 2019) and co-editor with Jan-Christopher Horak and Jacqueline Najuma Stewart of L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema (University of California Press, 2015).  From 2009-2015 Field served as co-curator of the L.A. Rebellion Preservation Project of the UCLA Film & Television Archive and co-organized a major film exhibition of their work, which ran from October-December 2011 at UCLA as part of the Getty Foundation’s Pacific Standard Time and has subsequently traveled nationally and internationally. Her current book project, tentatively titled Minstrelsy-Vaudeville-Cinema: Something Good-Negro Kiss and the Legacies of Racialized Performance in American Popular Culture, is under contract with University of California Press. In support of this project, Field was named a 2019 Academy Film Scholar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and a 2020-2021 Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellow by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS). In 2021, she was appointed to the National Film Preservation Board by the Librarian of Congress.

Monica Freeman (she/her) is a filmmaker and film programmer. She began her film career as part of Nafasi Productions under the tutelage of John Wise. Ms Freeman’s films include, Valerie: A Woman, An Artist,  A Philosophy of Life (1975), A Sense of Pride: Hamilton Heights (1977), and Children’s Art Carnival: Learning Through the Arts (1979). Her films have shown in countless venues both here and abroad, including The Museum of Modern Art, Studio Museum in Harlem, The Kennedy Center,  Georges Pompidou Centre, and FESPACO. Ms. Freeman earned her MFA from Columbia University and has taught film related courses in both Clark Atlanta University and Florida International University. She has served as program director for the Atlanta African Film Society, Diaspora World Cinema, Hoyt Fuller Film Festival, and Axe Multimedia  Entertainment Group. As part of Axe Multimedia Entertainment Group’s success in exhibiting films from the Diaspora online, Ms. Freeman was invited to Los Angeles as a panelist to the 1st Blacks in Technology Summit, February 2-3, 2002. Her international travels include going to Senegal as part of a  Fulbright Teachers Seminar to study African film. Included in the Hatch-Billops Collections, “Artist and Influence”, Ms Freeman was interviewed by filmmaker Kathe Sandler, (“Artist and Influence, Vol. XIX”).  In 1976, under artist Faith Ringgold’s suggestion,  Ms. Freeman programmed films for the  Sojourner Truth Festival of the Arts, Focus on Film.

Hayley O’Malley (she/her) is an assistant professor in the Department of Cinematic Arts and an affiliated faculty member in the Department of English at the University of Iowa. Her interdisciplinary research and teaching focus on African American film, literature, and visual culture. Her current book project, Dreams of a Black Cinema, is an archivally-driven history of the myriad ways that African American women writers experimented with film and worked to build a new Black women’s film culture from the 1960s to the 1990s. She holds a PhD from the University of Michigan and was previously a Mellon postdoctoral fellow with the Black Arts Archive Sawyer Seminar at Northwestern University. Her research has been supported by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Huntington Library, Princeton University’s Firestone Library, the John Hope Franklin Center at Duke University, and other institutions. Her writing has been published or is forthcoming in Black Camera, James Baldwin Review, ASAP/J, Feminist Media Histories, Shakespeare On Stage and Off, The Cambridge Companion to Contemporary African American Literature, The Oxford Handbook of American Film History, and other venues.

Michael W. Phillips Jr. (he/him) is the founder and director of South Side Projections, a nonprofit organization that presents film screenings and discussions at locations across Chicago’s south side. He was previously the co-founder and director of the Black Cinema House, the film curator of the Chicago International Movies & Music Festival, the director of the Bank of America Cinema, and the cinematheque and videotheque manager at Facets Multimedia. He has spoken about local film curation at the Society of Cinema and Media Studies Conference, about curating Black film at the University of Chicago, and about various topics as an invited speaker at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Arts + Public Life. He is also the founder and editor of From Beyond Press, a new independent publishing company.

Yvonne Welbon (she/her) is an award-winning filmmaker and founder and CEO of the Chicago-based nonprofit Sisters in Cinema, inspired by her documentary of the same name, about the history of Black women feature film directors. She is a Senior Creative Consultant at Chicken & Egg Pictures, and has produced and distributed dozens of award-winning films, including Living With Pride: Ruth Ellis @100. Welbon’s work has been broadcast on PBS, Starz/Encore, TV-ONE, IFC, Bravo, the Sundance Channel, BET, HBO, Netflix, and iTunes, and screened in over 100 film festivals around the world. Projects in development include The Spies Who Loved Me, a thrilling exposé on surveillance which focuses on the six years she lived in Taipei, Taiwan; and American Pride, a Black lesbian coming-of-age series set on the south side of Chicago. She has taught at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and Bennett College, where she chaired the Journalism & Media Studies Department. Raised in an Afro-Latinx Honduran household on the South Side of Chicago, Welbon holds a B.A from Vassar College, an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a Ph.D. from Northwestern University, and is a graduate of the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women. In 2020 she became a member of the Documentary branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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