Reel Black Filmmakers present FREE ‘South Side Short Film Series’


Featuring South Side filmmakers and their stories

For up-and-coming and established filmmakers as well as film lovers—young and seasoned—robust storytelling and filmmaking mastery are synonymous with the work of Reel Black Filmmakers (RBF) and the Community Film Workshop of Chicago (CFWC).

In partnership with the Community Film Workshop of Chicago, Reel Black Filmmakers will present the first of a monthly online South Side Short Film Series on Wednesday, December 9th from 7-8:30 p.m. Opening the series will be films dedicated to the theme of community and leadership.

“We’re excited to showcase unique films covering diverse subject matter about the South Side of Chicago. We will present at least 16 films over the next four months, with topics ranging from social justice and community support to arts and sexuality. All short films were created in the Digital Storytelling Initiative’s Production Institute, which is a partnership with the Community Film Workshop of Chicago and the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation,” explains Derek Grace, filmmaker, co-convener of the Reel Black Filmmakers and lead instructor for the Production Institute.

Featured filmmakers include: Susan Carlotta Ellis (A Garden Grows in Englewood); Don Kelley (The Barbershop: The Black Man’s Sanctuary); Amadilo Cuzan (Healing Works); and Natalie Battles (At Their Feet). The screenings will be followed by a Q&A session with film creators. “We ultimately hope to inspire other filmmakers to create more unique short films about their communities,” Grace added.

Established in 2012 by activist, organizer and filmmaker Kamau Tyehimba, and activist, filmmaker and historian Tracye Matthews, executive director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago, Reel Black Filmmakers is an organization that brings together and supports documentary filmmakers of African descent in the Chicagoland area.

“I never imagined that hosting this newly-formed group of Black filmmakers would be an eight-year journey of mentorship, fiscal agency, rough-cut and premiere film screenings, workshops, networking and numerous partnerships,” shares Margaret Caples, executive director of the Community Film Workshop of Chicago.

RBF/CFWC Short Film Series release

As a founding member of RBF, “Caples offered her office and workshop spaces as a home for RBF at no cost to RBF,” states Tyehimba. He went on to say, “This grand gesture, RBF membership dues and collaboration on and support for RBF members’ projects were and continue to be the strength of RBF.”

In addition to Matthews, Caples and Grace, Tyehimba recognizes RBF members “who have given unwavering support to RBF; screened their films in festivals throughout the USA and the world; produced and directed award-winning projects; created prominent film festivals; served on boards of festivals and other film organizations; created their own film organizations and production companies and are in constant demand to share their skills and knowledge.” Some of those members include: Dion Strowhorn, Ife Olatunji, Pemon Rami, David Weathersby, Shahari Moore, Tony Williams, Russell Norman, Adewole Abioye, David Lemieux, Muteeat Lawal, Levilyn Chriss (RIP), Felix Ofosu Yeboah, Philemon Najieb (RIP), Billy Dunbar, Christine Boulware, Armand Scott, Jeff Baraka, Jerald Blackwell, Keith Purvis, Lia Crawford, David Greenleaf, Jermont Montgomery, Anton Seals, Kiratiana Freelon, and T’Keyah Crystal Keymah.

Caples, who is also the program director of the Digital Storytelling Initiative at the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation Media Center and co-founder of Diverse Voices In Docs, points out that many of the filmmakers from Reel Black Filmmakers are fellows with Diverse Voices In Docs and echoes Tyehimba in recognizing that many of the filmmakers have won local, national and international film festival awards; distributed on many recognized platforms; and have given back to their communities.

“I am most proud that the Community Film Workshop continues to provide a platform for authentic voices as we build a better world view of Black perspectives and stories.”

The South Side Short Film Series is FREE, and registration is required. To register, go to:

For additional information on the Community Film Workshop of Chicago and the Reel Black Filmmakers, go to

About the Community Film Workshop of Chicago

Community Film Workshop of Chicago (CFWC) works in underserved neighborhoods mentoring the next generation of media makers. Our goal is to empower ordinary citizens in the use of media and to provide media arts programming at the Chicago Park District’s Harriet Harris Park. Our programs include: Youth In Motion, Summer Youth Camp, Reel Black Filmmakers, Diverse Voices in Docs and the Digital Storytelling Initiative.

About the Reel Black Filmmakers of Chicago

Reel Black Filmmakers (RBF) is a network that provides information, resources, and assistance to filmmakers of African descent. The collective study and analyze visual media with the goal of educating and uplifting communities worldwide. CFWC was a founding member of RBF, along with social activist, organizer and filmmaker Kamau Tyehimba, Tracye Matthews, associate director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago and documentary filmmaker Derek Grace. For over five years, CFWC has served as fiscal agent and hosted monthly meetings and screenings of Reel Black Filmmakers. Beginning January 2017, the collective became a program of Community Film Workshop of Chicago.

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