Newark Black Film Festival announces Paul Robeson award winners


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NEWARK – Winners of the Newark Black Film Festival 2016 Paul Robeson Awards, a biennial competition that recognizes excellence in independent filmmaking, were announced this week.  The competition, established in 1985 in honor of the late activist, performer and athlete, is the longest running festival of its kind in the United States. It is made possible through the support of Bank of America.

“The Newark Museum’s Black Film Festival has brought stories of diversity and inclusion to local residents through cinema for more than 30 years,” said Bob Doherty, NJ president, Bank of America. “Because diverse perspectives help communities thrive, we applaud and support the Paul Robeson Award winners’ achievements in filmmaking and their contributions to New Jersey’s cultural vibrancy.”

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The winners will be honored at a reception and award ceremony at the museum on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 4:30 p.m. followed by a screening at CityPlex 12 in Newark at 7:30 p.m.  The reception, ceremony and screenings are free to the public but pre-registration is required for the reception. To register, call 973.596.6550, or email at

“We are committed to providing a forum for filmmakers who reflect on the African-American experience in a way that goes beyond what is shown in mainstream cinema,” said Gloria Hopkins Buck, Newark Black Film Festival Chairperson and Charter Member. “The talent and artistry of entrants who compete in the Paul Robeson Awards is outstanding.”

Films are judged in the categories of long and short documentary, long and short narrative, animation and experimental, reserving the right to name no winner if a suitable submission has not been made. More than 35 films were entered in this year’s competition.

The 2016 Paul Robeson Awards winners are:

Long Documentary:

Winner: Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth
Filmmaker/Director: Pratibha Parmar
Producers: Shaheen Haq
A compelling biographical portrait of a legendary icon and the extraordinary journey of her birth to her historical win of The Pulitzer Price for her novel, The Color Purple.

Honorable Mention:SEMBENE!

Filmmaker/Producer/Director: Samba Gadjigo and Jason Silverman
The resistance fighter who used the camera as his weapon: meet Ousmane Sembene, the father of African Cinema.

Short Documentary:

Winner: Lee Hagan: Connecting Generations
Filmmaker/Producer/Director: Antoinette K. Ellis-Williams
This documentary explores the life and legacy of Dr. Hagan at NJCU, a Newark resident, the Civil Rights movement, and African-American history and culture.

Honorable Mention: Harlem on My Plate
Filmmaker/Director/Producer: Rochelle Brown & Sonia Armstead
The film explores the Great Migration from the South to Harlem in the early 1900s, to the renowned Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and ‘30s.

Long Narrative:

Winner: Blue
Filmmaker/Producer: Don Wallace
The gritty, urban drama of a professional boxer. Gary “Blue” Meekins struggles against unusually high obstacles to turn his hopeless life into that of the American dream.

Honorable Mention: Forever Yours
Filmmaker/Director: Patrick Ulysse
Producer: Patrick Ulysse and JD Rose
A romantic comedy about finding true love at the wrong time as Adrienne and JC share their love and drive to protect the neighborhood youth.

Short Narrative:

Winner: Video
Filmmaker/Director: Randy Yang
Producer: Pamela Rook
A woman’s racist remark is captured on video by two teenage black girls. Realizing the consequences of her actions, she pleads with them to delete the incriminating footage.

Honorable Mention:  Moves We Make
Filmmaker: Nonstop Show Group
Producer:  Lamar Mackson
Director: E. Patric Coker
A street pharmacist known for maker power moves, finds himself the victim of his own ill-conceived strategy and decision-making that can lead to the demise of his entire world.

The schedule for the Adult and Youth screenings for the 2016 Newark Black Film Festival is available online at





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