american filmmakers

Kathleen Collins b. March 18, 1942 d. September 18, 1988

Collins was an American filmmaker. 

Graduating in 1963 from the Sorbonne with an M.A. in French literature and cinema Collins returned to America and began working as a professor of film history and screenwriting. 

Collins wrote extensively during her lifetime including short stories, screenplays, and plays, most of which was unproduced and unpublished while she was alive. 

In 1980 she was able to direct her first film, The Cruz Brothers and Mr. Malloy, a short film that was screened at festivals. Bolstered by her success, Collins directed her first feature film, Losing Ground in 1982 for which she is credited as being the second African-American woman to direct a feature length film. The film did not make it outside of the festival circuit and did not receive a theatrical release. It would be her last film. 

Collins was diagnosed with breast cancer and succumbed to the disease in 1988 shortly after marrying her second husband, fellow academic Alfred Prettyman. She left a trunk’s worth of written material to her daughter, Nina Collins, the bulk of which was unpublished and unseen. 

In 2015 Nina Collins worked with Milestone Films in order to have her mother’s work re-stored and distributed making it publicly available for the first time following a small festival run.

A collection of her short stories titled Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? was published in 2016. 

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic.”

Happy birthday, Mr. Jarmusch.

Read J. Hoberman’s essay on where it all began: STRANGER THAN PARADISE.

Look through polaroids of Tom Waits, John Lurie, and Roberto Benigni while filming DOWN BY LAW.

Or watch Jim talk about musicians, filmmaking, Robert Mitchum, and the Sons of Lee Marvin.


CROSSING THE HEART RIVER: A Journey To Standing Rock Trailer 

Link to Film:

In the spring of 2016 members of the Sioux tribe of North Dakota began a prayerful gathering against the proposal to expand an oil pipeline under the Missouri River. By the end of Fall members from over 200 First Nations Tribes and thousands of people from diverse backgrounds had traveled to peacefully assemble against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Arriving on a Caravan out of NYC with his camera to Oceti Sakowin Camp the morning after the Backwater Bridge attack, filmmaker Anthony Basil Rodriguez aligns his story alongside others open to sharing their own. Featuring candid interviews with individuals on the ground and inside the camp, including a descendant of Chief Crazy Horse, Zintkala Wicasa, “Birdman” of the Fire Lightening Band of the Oglala, Crossing the Heart River works to unveil the complex history, stories, and forces behind occupation, as well as the continuous struggles facing indigenous Americans.
Restored 'Race Films' Find New Audiences
Some of the earliest movies by African-American filmmakers from the 1910s through 1940s languished in film archives over the years on poor-quality film prints. Now some have been digitally restored.

Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks was an African-American photographer, filmmaker, writer and composer who used his prodigious, largely self-taught talents to chronicle the African-American experience and to retell his own personal history. He is best remembered for his photographic essays for Life magazine and as the director of the 1971 film, Shaft. In 1948, Parks became a staff photographer for Life magazine, the FIRST African American to hold that position. Parks, who remained with the magazine until 1972, became known for his portrayals of ghetto life, black nationalists, and the civil rights movement. A photo-essay about a child from a Brazilian slum was expanded into a television documentary (1962) and a book with poetry (1978), both titled Flavio. Parks was also noted for his intimate portraits of such public figures as Ingrid Bergman, Barbra Streisand, Gloria Vanderbilt, and Muhammad Ali. Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks received the: Spingarn Medal · National Medal of Arts · NAACP Image Award – Hall of Fame Award (1984) and
Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks was born in Fort Scott, Kansas on November 30, 1912. He died March 7, 2006, in New York City, New York at the age of 93.

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American Film Institute Reveals 25 Women Chosen for the Fox Filmmakers Lab
One or more of them will direct a short film based on a Fox title.
By Michael Nordine

The 25: Joey Ally, Gillian Barnes, Shaz Bennett, Meredith Berg, Aubree Bernier-Clarke, Christine Boylan, Jan Eliasberg, Rachel Goldberg, Anne Hamilton, Tannaz Hazemi, Courtney Hoffman, Mako Kamitsuna, Alexis O. Korycinski, Jean Lee, Erin Li, Maggie Mahrt, Manjari Makijany, Rosita Lama Muvdi, Mia Niebruegge, Jane Pickett, Deborah M. Pratt, Lisanne Sartor, Thoranna Sigurdardottir, Devi Snively & Valerie Weis.


In 1991 Julie Dash premiered her first feature, Daughters of the Dust, at the Sundance Film Festival, which went on to win the award for Excellence in Cinematography. The film is set in the early 1900s and follows a Gullah family of women preparing to move from the Sea Islands off the coast of South Carolina to mainland America. Daughters of the Dust was the first film directed by an African American woman to receive a national release. 

The film appears to be a source of inspiration for Beyonce’s Lemonade. The visual album echoes imagery from the film with shots of young African-American women in the Southern wild and desolate beaches wearing turn of the century garments. 

Daughters of the Dust screened at the Festival again in 2012 as a part of the “From the Collection” program. The film has recently been digitally restored by Cohen Film Collection and will screen at film festivals and theaters in addition to a Blu-ray release this fall. Click here to view a trailer for Daughters of the Dust.

Film stills courtesy of Daughters of the Dust

Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You

Tickets are on sale for our 11th annual Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You. In collaboration with IFP and Filmmaker Magazine, this series highlights emerging talent in American filmmaking. Filmmakers take part in Q&A discussions following selected screenings. Check out for lineup and info.

[Free In Deed. 2015. USA/New Zealand. Directed by Jake Mahaffy. Courtesy the filmmaker]

By considering a variety of films, in chronological sequence, I tried to make understandable the representations of Asians, and especially Vietnamese, by European and American filmmakers. While the themes changed from general war movies, through the depiction  of blood-thirsty veterans and patriots towards the view of the victimized service men, the representation of the Vietnamese did not change dramatically. Vietnamese soldiers and civilians are portrayed as cunning, cruel, even sadistic, ambivalent, and irresponsible.

These articulations of latent and manifest Orientalism in American movies about  the Vietnam War are clear manifestations of a discourse which had broader consequences for the way Asians, or for that sake, Vietnamese, have been depicted. Where earlier movies showed a worldview, in which the Asian participants are reduced to simple pawns in a chess game between the superpowers, the post-1975 ‘Vietnam syndrome’’ genre betrayed a stereotype, which reified the Vietnamese as devious and unchanging. Even the films, which are considered to picture the war in more realistic terms, the framing of the Vietnamese did not change substantially. What changed was a manifest Orientalism, symbolized by stereotypes of the ‘‘Yellow Peril’’, but the representation of latent Orientalism of the so-called anti-war movies remained.

Current American and French cinematic production on Vietnam is not coming to terms with the past. The re-issued Apocalypse Now, Redux is part of a ‘‘cultural memorial’’ to remember the war in contradictory terms.

—  Framing “the Other’’. A  critical review of Vietnam war movies and their representation of Asians and Vietnamese by
John Kleinen.
If you think about why any story moves us, it’s because of a quaking moment of recognition. It’s never the shock of the new, it’s the shock of the familiar.
—  Joshua Oppenheimer, the director of the Oscar-nominated film The Look of Silence (2014), speaks about his practice as a documentary filmmaker. 

friendly reminder on this sad day that angelina jolie’s BY THE SEA was one of the more thought provoking, beautiful, bizarre, and most definitely sad portraits of a married couple dealing with personal trauma + mental illness + substance abuse from any american filmmaker in a while and the film was wrongfully savaged by critics for being a “vanity project” which was so unnecessary/wrong/stupid, so everyone should most definitely watch it!!