For 81-year-old Sonia Sanchez, writing is both a personal and political act. She emerged as a seminal figure in the 1960s Black Arts Movement, raising her voice in the name of black culture, civil rights, women’s liberation, and peace as a poet, playwright, teacher, activist and early champion of the spoken word. She is among the earliest poets to have incorporated urban black English into her poetry; she was one of the first activists to secure the inclusion of African American studies in university curricula. Deemed “a lion in literature’s forest” by poet Maya Angelou and winner of major literary awards including the American Book Award, Sonia Sanchez is best known for 17 books of poetry that explore a wide range of global and humanist themes, particularly the struggles and triumphs of women and people of color.
In BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez, Sanchez’s life unfolds in a documentary rich with readings and jazz-accompanied performances of her work. With appearances by Questlove, Talib Kweli, Ursula Rucker, Amiri Baraka, Haki Madhubuti, Jessica Care Moore, Ruby Dee, Yasiin Bey, Ayana Mathis, Imani Uzuri and Bryonn Bain, the documentary examines Sanchez’s contribution to the world of poetry, her singular place in the Black Arts Movement and her leadership role in African American culture over the last half century.
Sabrina Schmidt Gordon has been committed to cultural and social issues documentary filmmaking for over a decade. Her editing debut garnered an Emmy for WGBH’s Greater Boston Arts series, and she has continued to distinguish herself as both a producer and editor through her work on numerous award-winning programs for public television and cable.
She is the editor and co-producer of DOCUMENTED, Sabrina is also the co-producer and editor of Mrs. Goundo’s Daughter, a Sundance Institute/ ITVS documentary about a young Malian mother’s quest to protect her baby daughter from female genital cutting. She is also the co-producer and editor of Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, a groundbreaking PBS documentary about manhood and gender politics in mainstream Hip- Hop.
Sabrina is also a documentary filmmaking instructor, currently teaching Documentary Story Structure at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has guest lectured at New York University/Poly, Brooklyn College, New Jersey City University, the Independent Filmmaker Project, Reel Works, and the Jacob Burns Film Center. She is an honors graduate from New York University.
Poet. Mother. Professor. National and International lecturer on Black Culture and Literature, Women’s Liberation, Peace and Racial Justice. Sponsor of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Board Member of MADRE. Sonia Sanchez is the author of over 16 books including Homecoming, We a BaddDDD People, Love Poems, I’ve Been a Woman, A Sound Investment and Other Stories, Homegirls and Handgrenades, Under a Soprano Sky, Wounded in the House of a Friend(Beacon Press, 1995), Does Your House Have Lions? (Beacon Press, 1997), Like the Singing Coming off the Drums (Beacon Press, 1998), Shake Loose My Skin (Beacon Press, 1999), and most recently, Morning Haiku (Beacon Press, 2010). In addition to being a contributing editor to Black Scholar and The Journal of African Studies, she has edited an anthology,We Be Word Sorcerers: 25 Stories by Black Americans. BMA: The Sonia Sanchez Literary Review is the first African American Journal that discusses the work of Sonia Sanchez and the Black Arts Movement. A recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts, the Lucretia Mott Award for 1984, the Outstanding Arts Award from the Pennsylvania Coalition of 100 Black Women, the Community Service Award from the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, she is a winner of the 1985 American Book Award for Homegirls and Handgrenades, the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Humanities for 1988, the Peace and Freedom Award from Women International League for Peace and Freedom (W.I.L.P.F.) for 1989, a PEW Fellowship in the Arts for 1992-1993 and the recipient of Langston Hughes Poetry Award for 1999. Does Your House Have Lions?was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is the Poetry Society of America’s 2001 Robert Frost Medalist and a Ford Freedom Scholar from the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Her poetry also appeared in the movie Love Jones. Sonia Sanchez has lectured at over 500 universities and colleges in the United States and has traveled extensively, reading her poetry in Africa, Cuba, England, the Caribbean, Australia, Europe, Nicaragua, the People’s Republic of China, Norway, and Canada. She was the first Presidential Fellow at Temple University and she held the Laura Carnell Chair in English at Temple University. She is the recipient of the Harper Lee Award, 2004, Alabama Distinguished Writer, and the National Visionary Leadership Award for 2006. She is the recipient of the 2005 Leeway Foundation Transformational Award. Currently, Sonia Sanchez is one of 20 African American women featured in “Freedom Sisters,” an interactive exhibition created by the Cincinnati Museum Center and Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition and she was the recipient of the Robert Creeley award in March of 2009.
A monthly Brooklyn-based screening series highlighting documentary films as a way to to expand dialogue around the intersection of human rights and art. Born out of a three-way collaboration between Skylight, UnionDocs, and WITNESS, these monthly events aim to strengthen the ties between people interested in human rights in Brooklyn and will consist of film screenings followed by a partner-moderated discussion between the filmmaker, movement actors, and the audience. During our discussions we debate the conventional framework for human rights and challenge the definition of what constitutes human rights media.