Bi-Racial Hair (4:56)
Lisa Russell | Brooklyn, NY
"Slit my wrists, my blood does not excrete in black and white" prophesizes 13-year old Zora in her poem entitled "Bi-Racial Hair" which was performed live in front of 1500 of her peers and adult allies at the Urban Word NYC Teen Poetry Slam.
My proposed short film of the same title, is a satirical look at the racial tension young African American's experience who are of mixed ethnic backgrounds. Using Zora's poem as the thread, the film follows her initial comedic rant about the challenges she faces in stylizing her hair to her personal frustrations of being teased about her ethnicity by her African American peers. The film weaves between fictional reanctments of sections of her poem with candid interviews (conducted by Zora) of youth. Illustrating the struggles youth of mixed color face with identity and social position, the poet's resolution about proposing a "new race" sheds light on the complexity and depth of the racist wounds our nation still faces 150 years after the abolishment of slavery.
Lisa Russell is an independent filmmaker whose work is inspired by her background in humanitarian relief and international development work. Since receiving her Masters in International Health and Development in 1998, Lisa has since produced and directed films in such diverse countries as Brazil, Ghana, Niger, Malawi, South Africa, Burkina Faso and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While some of Lisa's work has been broadcasted on public television (including PBS and Channel 4 London), most of Lisa's films are tied into advocacy, fundraising or legislative efforts with UN and international agencies. She actively screens her films around the country at universities, conferences, festivals and hill briefings and has reached thousands of students, young people and others to spark dialogue about U.S. responsibility in global affairs. In September 2005, Lisa collaborated with Grammy-nominated artist Zap Mama to create "The WOMAN Tour" - a 3-week nationwide initiative of film screenings and musical performances to increase awareness of global women's health. She was a 2008 receipient of a New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) grant and was selected as one of 25 filmmakers for the National Black Programming Consortium's New Media Institute. Currently residing in Brooklyn, NY, Lisa is also a teaching artist with Urban Word NYC, where she leads workshops blending film screenings and open mics for young spoken word artists to initiate awareness and dialogue about social issues affecting today's youth.
Lisa is currently in development of three new documentary film projects: an advocacy video on unsafe abortion in Ethiopia; an advocacy and new media project with the UN on youth in conflict/crisis areas (to be shot in Liberia, Colombia, Lebanon and New Orleans); and her independent film, MYTH OF THE MOTHERLAND which profiles a group of young spoken word artists on a creative writing journey to diverse African countries to address myths and stereotypes of the Mother Continent. For more information, visit www.governessfilms.com.
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