The Black Filmmakers You Should Follow from Ava DuVernay’s #ARRAY Twitter Campaign Championing Diversity


Earlier this week, award-winning Selma director Ava DuVernay took to Twitter for a 12-hour “Rebel-A-Thon,” campaigning for diversity in film. She helped unite over 40 black filmmakers in support of AFFRM, the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement, and ARRAY, the group’s multi-platform label. You can catch up with the wisdom sprinkled throughout the conversations under the hashtag #ARRAY. Join the AFFRM and ARRAY movement by visiting the project website, where artists and film advocates are gathering to support “varied voices and images in cinema.” We’ve organized a handy list of the filmmakers who participated in the eye-opening Rebel-A-Thon. Follow them on Twitter (by clicking their names or embedded feeds) to keep up with their ongoing projects. You can learn more about many of the filmmakers in our list of 50 essential African-American films.

Follow Rashaad Ernesto Green

His 2011 drama Gun Hill Road won him the Grand Jury Prize nomination at the Sundance Film Festival and starred Harmony Santana, the first transgender actress to be nominated for a major award in the United States.

Follow Marta Cunningham

The Emmy-nominated director is best known for her documentary Valentine Road, about the murder of gender non-conforming teenager Larry King.

Follow Debbie Allen

Yes, that Debbie Allen — director/actress/choreographer of Fame and director of diverse TV series such as Empire, Scandal, and Jane the Virgin.

Follow Malcolm D. Lee

Cousin of Spike Lee, director of blaxploitation spoof Undercover Brother.

Follow Pete Chatmon

Best known for the rom-com Premium, about an actor sick of dealing with stereotypical African-American roles.

Follow Anthony Hemingway

He’s worked on all the biggies: The Wire, Justice, ER, Criminal Minds, Community, Empire, Glee, and more.

Nailah Jefferson

“Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, Vanishing Pearls is the debut film from Nailah Jefferson and her recently formed production company, Perspective Pictures. Previously she has worked on projects produced by California Newsreel and Nerjyzed Entertainment. She worked for Lee Daniels Entertainment during the making of Tennessee and development of his Oscar winning film Precious.”

Euzhan Palcy

The first black female director produced by a major Hollywood studio for A Dry White Season. She’s also the only woman to direct Marlon Brando (in the same film), which landed him his eighth and last Academy Award nomination.

Ayoka Chenzira

“Ayoka Chenzira, artist/educator, is an award-winning, internationally acclaimed film and video artist, and is one of the first African-Americans to teach film production in higher education. A pioneer in Black independent cinema, Chenzira is one of the first African-American women to write, produce and direct a 35mm feature film, Alma’s Rainbow, one of Billboard Magazine’s top 40 home video rentals. She is also noted as the first African-American woman animator.”

Storm Saulter

Storm Saulter is a writer, director, cinematographer, and visual artist. Born in Negril, Jamaica, he received formal film training at The Los Angeles Film School, graduating in 2001 with a focus in Cinematography and Editing. He served as writer, director, and cinematographer for his multi award-winning first feature film, Better Mus’ Come — which opened in US Theaters in March 2013, and had it’s UK television debut on BBC TWO in May 2014. The film was hailed by critics as one that heralds a new movement of independent filmmaking throughout the Caribbean.”

Gina Prince-Bythewood

Best known for directing Disappearing Acts and Love & Basketball — which won an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature and a Humanitas Prize for her work on the film.

John Singleton

Writer and director behind Boyz n the Hood, which won him the Academy Award nomination for Best Director — becoming the first African-American and youngest person to be nominated (at 24 years old).

Julie Dash

Dash’s 1992 film Daughters of the Dust was the first feature film by an African-American woman with a wide theatrical release in the United States.

Terence Nance

“Terence Nance is an artist born and raised in Dallas, Texas. . . . Terence makes films, installations, performances, and music. Terence makes music under the name Terence Etc. His first feature film, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, premiered in the New Frontier section of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The album of the same title will be released this year. The film has garnered Terence recognition from Filmmaker magazine, where he was selected as one of the 25 new faces of independent film.”

Sheldon Candis

“Candis’ feature directorial debut LUV (which he also co-wrote) was an official selection in the 2012 Sundance Film Festival Dramatic Competition.”

Tyler Perry

The award-winning actor and director behind the popular Madea character.

Christine Swanson

Faith Filmworks is an independent motion picture production company established in 1997, to develop and produce memorable stories with emotional and moral resonance. It is home to writer-director Christine Swanson and producer Michael Swanson, the multiple award-winning husband and wife filmmaking team.”

Blackout for Human Rights

Blackout for Human Rights (Blackout) is a network of concerned citizens who commit their energy and resources to immediately address the staggering level of human rights violations against fellow Americans throughout the United States.”

Reggie R. Bythewood

“He was hired as a writer on the hit NBC comedy series, A Different World where he met his future wife, Gina Prince-Bythewood (a Dodgers fan). He went on to write and produce Dick Wolf’s drama series New York Undercover. After attending the Million Man March, Bythewood wrote the screenplay for Spike Lee’s indie film, Get On The Bus. . . . Bythewood made his feature film directorial debut on the acclaimed indie flick, Dancing in September. It was acquired by HBO and became an HBO original movie.”

Patrik-Ian Polk

Polk explored the life of gay African-American friends in 2001’s Punks, which later inspired the LOGO TV series Noah’s Arc.

Tanya E. Hamilton

Tanya Hamilton is a film director and producer. Hamilton’s first project was a short film entitled The Killers, which was released in 1997. This work won awards at the Berlin International Film Festival and New Line Cinema. Her first feature film was Night Catches Us, a portrayal of former Black Panthers reuniting in 1976 Philadelphia. In 2011, Hamilton received a Black Reel Award nomination for best director for this film. It was also nominated for an Independent Spirit Awards, four Image Awards, a Gotham Awards, a Chlotrudis Award and the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize.”

Neema Barnette

The first African-American female sitcom director and first African-American woman to get a major studio deal (three pictures with Sony).

Dawn Porter

Dawn Porter is an award-winning filmmaker whose 2013 documentary Gideon’s Army won the Sundance Film Festival Editing Award and the Tribeca All Access Creative Promise Award. The film broadcast on HBO in July 2013 and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and is currently nominated for an Emmy Award.”

Salim Akil

“He wrote and co-produced the film Drylongso which was featured in the 1999 Sundance Film Festival and the 1999 Berlin Film Festival. Salim started as a staff writer for Showtime’s award-winning Soulfood and quickly worked his way up to series Executive Producer, on top of directing and writing several episodes.”

Barry Jenkins

Barry Jenkins is a director and writer, known for Medicine for Melancholy (2008), My Josephine (2003) and Little Brown Boy (2003).”

Tina Mabry

Tina was named among the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in Filmmaker Magazine in July of 2009 and was recognized by Out Magazine as one of the most inspirational and outstanding people of 2009. She was featured in the Advocate magazine as part of their “Top Forty Under 40″ issue.”

Kent Faulcon

Kent Faulcon was born in 1971. He is an actor and director, known for American Beauty (1999), Men in Black (1997) and Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995).”

Russ Parr Show

Russ Parr’s career has evolved from a stand-up comedian to recording artist to a top-rated, nationally syndicated radio host, heard weekdays by 3.2 million listeners in 25 cities across America and now….to independent filmmaker.”

Shaka King

“Shaka King is a director and producer, known for Mulignans (2015), Newlyweeds (2013) and Herkimer DuFrayne 7th Grade Guidance Counselor (2010).”

Haile Gerima

Halie Gerima arrived in the United States from his native Gondar, Ethiopia, to study acting and directing at the Goodman Theater in Chicago, Illinois. He later transferred to the Theater Department at UCLA where he completed the Master’s Program in Film. Afterward, he relocated to Washington, DC, to teach at Howard University’s Department of Radio, Television, and Film where he has influenced young filmmakers for over twenty-five years.”

Kasi Lemmons

Known for her work in Eve’s Bayou, The Caveman’s Valentine, The Silence of the Lambs, and Talk to Me.

Leslie Harris

Leslie Harris is a producer and director, known for Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. (1992), Bessie Coleman’s Dream to Fly (1993) and Indie Sex: Teens (2007).”

Rick Famuyiwa

Writer and director behind the huge Sundance hit Dope, which also won two nominations at the Cannes Film Festival.

Tim Story

Tim Story made his studio directorial debut in 2002 with the smash hit comedy Barbershop, starring Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Anthony Anderson, and Eve. The film garnered an Image Award nomination for Outstanding Motion Picture.”

Victoria Mahoney

Mahoney developed Yelling to the Sky through the Directors and Screenwriters Sundance Institute Labs and was named an Auerbach Screenwriting Fellow, Annenberg Film Fellow, Cinereach Fellow, Maryland Fellow, IFP Narrative Lab fellow and a Tribeca Film Fellow. Named one of, “25 New Faces of Independent Film” by Filmmaker Magazine, one of ShadowAndAct/IndieWire’s “Filmmakers to Watch” and one of “3 Filmmakers to Watch” in Elle magazine’s, ‘Women In Hollywood’ issue.”

George Tillman Jr.

Best known for Soul Food and Men of Honor.

Justin Simien

Just completed his Sundance hit Dear White People, his directorial debut.

Roger Ross Williams

Roger Ross Williams directed God Loves Uganda, which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival to enormous critical acclaim. It was shortlisted for a 2014 Academy Award, has won over a dozen awards and screened at over 60 film festivals worldwide. Williams also directed and produced Music by Prudence, which won the 2010 Academy Award for documentary short subject. He is the first African-American to win an Oscar for directing and producing a film, short or feature.”

Rodney Evans

Evans is “the recipient of The Independent Feature Project’s Gordon Parks Award for Screenwriting for his screenplay, Brother To Brother. This film premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival where it won the Special Jury Prize in Drama.”

dream hampton

“A 2014 Film/Theatre Kresge Fellow, hampton’s film credits include: Director: “Treasure: From Tragedy to Transjustice, Mapping a Detroit Story”/ Director: “Black August (2010)”/ Director: “I AM ALI (2003)”/ Co-Executive Producer: “An Oversimplification of Her Beauty”/ Co-Producer: “BET Black Girls Rock (2010-2013)”/ Writer: “BET Honors Awards (2010-2013)”/ Associate Producer: “The Russian Winter (2012)”/ and Co-Producer: “Behind the Music: Notorious B.I.G.” (1999, Emmy). She directed the music video “QueenS” for TheeSatisfaction which NPR named one of the most stylish music videos of 2012.”

DeMane Davis

DeMane Davis is a writer and director, known for Lift (2001), Black & White & Red All Over (1997) and Dan Francisco: Notary Public (2007).”

Charles Murray

Charles Murray is known for his work on Things Never Said (2013), Third Watch (1999) and Sons of Anarchy (2008).”

Matthew A. Cherry

“Chicago native Matthew A. Cherry is a former NFL wide receiver turned filmmaker who played for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals, Carolina Panthers and the Baltimore Ravens.”