Making Social Issue Documentaries in Perilous Times

Making Social Issue Documentaries in Perilous Times

May 25, 2022 A Focus on Women Committee Virtual Event

On May 25, the Focus on Women Committee (FOWC) virtual meeting featured the discussion Making Social Issue Documentaries in Perilous Times. In a conversation moderated by FOWC Co-Chair Annetta Marion, Directors Yoruba Richen and Johanna Hamilton about the making their new documentary, The Rebellious Life of Rosa Parks.

Richen and Hamilton explained how they wanted to share a story about Parks that covered her whole life, not just the Montgomery Bus Boycott. They discussed their process on being first-time collaborators and shared advice on how they made it successful. They spoke about adapting Jeanne Theoharis’s biography into a documentary and how they decided what made in into the film despite the original author’s wishes. They also explained how the fast-paced nature of current events impacted the narrative they were telling as they attempted to weave a story between the past and present.

Following the moderated portion of the conversation, the panelists fielded questions from the audience. 

Yoruba RichenYoruba Richen
Currently filming the documentary, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, Richen's directorial credits also include the documentaries Promised LandThe Green Book: Guide to Freedom and The New Black; and episodes of the documentary series FrontlineAmerican MastersThe New York Times Presents and High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America. She was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Directing in a Documentary for her 2020 production, The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts the Tonight Show. She took home the award in that same category for her work on the 2021 mini-series Black and Missing. Richen has been a DGA member since 2020 and serves as the Alternate Co-Chair of the Focus on Women Committee. 
Johanna HamiltonJohanna Hamilton
Currently filming the documentary, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, Hamilton's directorial credits also include episodes of the series Bad Boy Billionaires: IndiaWrong ManParched and Independent Lens. She won the International Documentary Association's 2014 Video Source Award for her documentary 1971. Hamilton has been a DGA member since 2017. 
Annetta MarionAnnetta Marion (moderator)
Marion is an award-winning Director who has dedicated her life to the craft of making premium television and cultivating a taste for stories that both entertain and inspire. Her work spans high-end branded content, scripted comedy and drama, true crime series for Investigation Discovery and VH1, multi-cam episodes for NBC, and docs-series / specials for OWN, MTV, Netflix, Quibi, NASA and FaceBook; working with talent like Oprah, Nicki Minaj and Dwayne Johnson to aspiring actors to “real people.” A DGA member since 2009, Marion is a member of the Eastern Diversity Steering Committee, has served on the Eastern Directors Council and serves as a Co-Chair of the Focus on Women Committee. 

About the Committee:

Originally a sub-committee of the Eastern Directors Council, in 2020 the Focus on Women Committee (FOWC) was designated an official and permanent committee of the DGA National Board for women members residing in the Eastern Region. The Committee would like to remind members that while their events are designed with a special focus on women directors, all DGA members are welcome to attend.

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