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Yvonne Welbon, an award-winning independent filmmaker, originally from Chicago, attended Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. Thereafter, she spent six years in Taipei, Taiwan, where she taught English, learned Mandarin Chinese, and founded and published a premiere arts magazine for five years.
Welbon returned to the United States and
enrolled in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and
obtained a Master of Fine Arts with a concentration in film and
video in 1994. At present, she is a doctoral candidate at
Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Welbon's current
project is Sisters in Cinema, a documentary, doctoral
dissertation, and website.
Her work as a filmmaker is experimental and often autobiographical, exploring identity through memory, history, culture, race, and sexuality. Her films illustrate our need to recognize our heritage, history and our places in society as individuals.
Yvonne Welbon's films and videos work to create a stronger media presence for African American women. Her award winning films have been screened on cable, public television, at universities and community centers, and in film and video festivals around the world. In 1997 she was awarded an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Media Arts to continue her work in media production.
She has written, directed and produced a number of independent films and videos. Monique (1991) is an experimental autobiographical film about her first painful encounter with racism. It was awarded the prize for Best Documentary at the 17th Festival of Illinois Film and Video Artists.
The Cinematic Jazz of Julie Dash
(1992-3), presents an inspiring interview with the pioneering
filmmaker. Julie Dash speaks about her background, training,
vision and struggle to bring Daughters of the Dust to the
American movie screen. The Cinematic Jazz of Julie Dash has been
acquired and added to the collections of numerous university
libraries in the United States and abroad.
Sisters in the Life: First Love (1993), is a black lesbian love story which was screened at a myriad of festivals including the San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Hong Kong Gay and Lesbian Film Festivals. The film offers one of the only media portrayals of a young black lesbian coming to terms with her sexuality.
Missing Relations (1994) is an autobiographical experimental dramatic documentary which explores loss and denial in an African American family. Missing Relations was screened at the Mill Valley Film Festival, the Atlanta Black Arts Festival, and broadcast on the Chicago based PBS affiliate program Image Union. It was awarded a certificate of merit at the Chicago International Film Festival. Missing Relations was also distinguished as one of the most outstanding MFA thesis projects at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Welbon was honored with an MFA Traveling Fellowship for the film in 1994.
Yvonne Welbon was granted P.O.V. finishing funds, a Sidney Poitier Emerging Filmmaker Fellowship and a Center for New Television/NEA-AFI Regional Fellowship for Remembering Wei Yi fang, Remembering Myself... (1995). The award winning documentary is an autobiographical fi`lm about her experiences as an African American woman living in Taiwan for six years. The film was broadcast on the national Public Television series P.O.V. in 1996. Remembering Wei Yi fang, Remembering Myself... won a Silver Hugo at Intercom: The Chicago International Film Festival, and was named Best Film/Video on Matters Relating to the Black Experience at the 11th Black International Cinema Festival in Berlin.
Welbon is currently working on a new documentary. Sisters in Cinema is the first documentary of its kind. It gives voice to African American women directors and serves to illuminate a history of independent filmmaking that has remained hidden for too long. In the summer of 1997, Welbon produced and directed a segment about her work-in-progress for Split Screen, a program about independent filmmakers produced by John Pierson. The segment highlighted the films of black women directors Eloyce Gist, Zora Neale Hurston, Julie Dash, Darnell Martin and Bridgett Davis. The Split Screen segment was cablecast on Bravo in 1997.
In addition to her own work, Welbon has served in various producing capacities on a number of other projects. She was Associate Producer/Production Manager on the ITVS funded film Mother of the River (1994) directed by Zeinabu Irene Davis. Among her other credits are: Production Manager for the film adaptation of the Ernest Hemingway short-story A Clean Well-lighted Place (1994) directed by Allan Siegel; Coordinating Producer of the Museums in the Park (1993), a video documentary commissioned by and about nine Chicago museums including the Art Institute, the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium and the Mexican Fine Arts Center; and Associate Producer/Assistant Director on Compensation (1998), a short feature film which parallels the lives of a deaf African American woman at the turn of the century in the early 1900s and one living today in the late 1990s.
Yvonne Welbon's writings on black women filmmakers have been published in the Independent and other publications. They include Calling the Shots: Black Women Directors Take the Helm, Determined to Create a Presence: Black Lesbian Film and Video Artists, The Marketing, Distribution and Exhibition of Daughters of the Dust: A Case Study, and Sisters in the Life: Black Lesbian Film and Video Artists. Her publications have been used widely in film and video courses at a number of universities.
Welbon is also the recipient of grants and awards for her scholarship. In 1994 she was awarded a graduate fellowship at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, for study toward a doctorate in Radio/Television/Film. In 1995, she was awarded a fellowship for graduate study by the Illinois Consortium for Educational Opportunity program. In 1997 she received a Dissertation Year Grant from Northwestern University. In addition, Welbon has completed all course work for a certificate in Telecommunications, Policy, Management and Science.
Yvonne Welbon received a B.A. in History from Vassar College in 1984. Upon graduation, she went on to study Chinese in Taipei, Taiwan at the National Taiwan Normal University. She learned to read, write and speak Mandarin Chinese. At the age of 23, she founded and began to publish a premier English language city magazine in Taipei, Taiwan. After five years, developing the magazine from an eight-page quarterly to a 52 page monthly, she returned to the United States to pursue graduate study in film and video.
In 1994 she received a MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has completed all course work toward a doctorate in Radio/TV/Film at Northwestern University. Her dissertation, also called Sisters in Cinema, offers a historical overview of the lives and the films of African American women directors from the early part of the century to today. It is her intention to create a strong record documenting African American women within the history of film. With the publication of the dissertation and the broadcast of the documentary, this history will, perhaps for the first time, be made easily available to the general population.
Source: Sisters In Cinema:
Women Make Movies: http://www.wmm.com/catalog/_makers/fm375.htm
The Cinematic Jazz of Julie Dash
From her innovative short works to her critically acclaimed feature debut Daughters of the Dust, the films of Julie Dash have broken new cinematic ground and redefined black women's images on screen. In this wide-ranging interview, Dash talks about her background, development and approach to movie making, as well as the struggles, victories and interdependence of African American women filmmakers. Excerpts from early films and Daughters of the Dust, the dramatic feature about different generations of South Carolina sea islanders which has thrilled audiences across the nation, underscore the originality of this immensely gifted artist.
The Following Are Streaming Video Clips
from Yvonne Welbon's "Sisters in Cinema" Documentary
Julie Dash - 31 sec.
Dianne Houston - 44 sec.
African American Lesbian Produced Film, Video, and Multimedia
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Purchase Films By Yvonne Welbon
Black Lesbian Film and Video Art: Feminism Studies, Performance Studies