Julie Dash, Diary of an African Nun

Adaptation and Beyond

Creating a Different Image: Black Women’s Filmmaking of the 1970s-90s
Thursday, February 2, 2023 - 7:30pm

In 1976, an extraordinary group of Black feminist artists and activists organized the first ever Black women’s film festival: the Sojourner Truth Festival of the Arts. Films by Michelle Parkerson, Ayoka Chenzira, Edie Lynch, and Madeline Anderson, among others, were screened.  The festival was simultaneously a celebration of the emerging world of Black women’s filmmaking as well as a radical call for the kinds of socio-political and institutional changes necessary for a Black women’s film culture to thrive. Four decades later, the Sojourner Truth Festival of the Arts, 2023 commemorates the 1976 festival with a nine-week screening series, held in conjunction with Professor Allyson Nadia Field’s winter 2023 course “Creating a Different Image: Black Women's Filmmaking of the 1970s-90s,” and a two-day symposium about the original festival and the tradition of Black feminist filmmaking. For more information, visit

This program considers what it means to refashion, transform, and interpret. Adapted from a short story by Alice Walker, Julie Dash’s The Diary of an African Nun (1977) centers on a nun in Uganda reflecting on her life and faith. Anita W. Addison’s Eva’s Man is an adaptation of part of Gayl Jones’ 1976 novel of the same name, in which a Black woman murders and castrates her lover and refuses to tell a white psychologist why. Liz White’s feature Othello (filmed between 1962 and 1966 and first screened in 1980) was the first film version of Shakespeare’s tragedy that starred a Black man, Yaphet Kotto. The feature film adapts Shakespeare’s tragedy to the 1960s, using an all-Black cast and crew (including music by Hugh Masekela) to reimagine the play in a way that addressed colorism in the Black community, Afrocentrism, and the Black Power Movement. (digital video and 16mm, 139 min.) 

Diary of an African Nun 16mm preservation print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Eva’s Man Digital preservation courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Othello courtesy of the Reserve Film and Video Collection of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Othello has been preserved with funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. 

Presented by the Film Studies Center, Sisters in Cinema, and South Side Projections, and co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture.