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Spelman Professor Ayoka Chenzira Partners with Pearl Cleage to Produce New Film Project


ATLANTA (Aug. 16, 2012) -- New York Times best-selling author Pearl Cleage, C’71, has teamed up with award-winning filmmaker Ayoka Chenzira, Ph.D., founder and director of the Spelman College Digital Moving Image Salon, to bring her novels to the screen in what has been dubbed The Pearl Cleage Film Project.
 
The first film adaptations on the slate are two of Cleage’s most popular novels: Babylon Sisters, which was featured on the Essence Book Club list, and What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day, which was an Oprah's Book Club pick and stayed on The New York Times Best Seller list for nine weeks.
 
Cleage and Chenzira’s collaboration is considered historic as it marks the first time an African-American female novelist and an African-American female filmmaker have joined forces to bring entertaining and thought-provoking, multidimensional characters who are African American to the screen as feature films.
 
Chenzira is considered a pioneer in African-American cinema. She is one of the first African-American women to write, produce and direct a 35-mm film. Her first feature film, Alma's Rainbow, was developed at Sundance and noted in Billboard magazine’s top 40 in home video sales. Chenzira's more than 25 films span fiction, documentary, performances, interstitials, experimental narratives and animation. Her rich body of work has received both popular and critical acclaim including a Sony Innovator Award for converging film, video and computer animation and the Apple Computer Distinguished Educator Award for her work with storytelling and digital technology.
 
"You can tell a lot about a country by what you see in its national cinema,” said Chenzira. “Clearly we have a lot absent in American cinema. Pearl's work offers a fuller and unique expression of not only the lives of African-American people but what it means to be human and grappling with personal and social challenges while still having hope and believing in love."
 
Cleage is an acclaimed fiction writer, playwright, poet, essayist and journalist. She has written eight novels, which have sold millions of copies in the past 10 years. She is also an NAACP Image Award Winner, a recipient of Jubilee Award for Literature and the outstanding columnist award from the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists.

Producing The Pearl Cleage Film Project with Chenzira is Dana Offenbach (MOOZ-lum, The Girl is in Trouble, Hav Plenty) and Tandria Potts (A Cross to Bear). Several Spelman alumnae are also involved in the film project and include Cydnee Bayless, C’2009, (editor), Moriah Hope Thomas, C’2011, (music composition) and Juliana Montgomery, C’2006, (videography).

To learn more about The Pearl Cleage Film Project visit, pearlcleagefilmproject.com.

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