Filmmaker and activist Mary Morten's documentary Woke Up Black will screen at Loyola University Chicago's Water Tower Campus on Monday, Feb. 27, 2012, at 3 p.m.
Woke Up Black focuses on five Black youth, along with their struggles and triumphs as they start their journey into adulthood. The film places at its center the voices of Black youth - their ideas, attitudes and opinions that are often overlooked in today's society.
For two years, Morten and associate producers Keisha Farmer-Smith, Aparna Sharma, and Marisol Ybarra followed five youth from the Chicago area to explore their experiences when it comes to navigating the world they live in. As they move through their personal challenges this documentary also mirrors the complexities of this often ignored group that are at the center of many socio-political issues including discrimination, political participation, sex and relationships, music, and the media portrayal of Black youth.
The documentary subjects are:
- Rosalee, 18, is a recent graduate of Lakeview High School. Rosalee is the oldest in a family of eight where she, her brother and three sisters were adopted by her aunt and uncle. She is the first person in her family to attend college. Rosalee struggles with life away from her family and the college experience.
- Carter, 16, was adopted by two African American gay men when he was 10. As the oldest of eight children he was bounced around in foster care for several years. Carter is finishing up his last year of high school and is balancing his class studies, sports, and family life while trying to figure out his future.
- Ace, 17, is a self-identified gender queer youth who struggles to maintain relationships with members of her family who do not understand and are not supportive of her gender identity.
- Morgan, 19, lives in an affluent western suburb of Chicago and is in her second year of college at a prestigious out-of-state university. While being raised to be a strong Black woman by her parents, she has lived the majority of her life in situations where she is the only African American or one of a few.
- Sheldon, 20, is a new father and an organizer at a south side community based organization that works with youth on issues of social justice. At the age of 17, he was incarcerated for six months for committing a felony crime. He is currently working to expunge his record.
Morten, an activist, filmmaker and consultant, started work on Woke Up Black after reading a report by Dr. Cathy Cohen for the Black Youth Project. Cohen, a professor at the University of Chicago, was the principal investigator of this groundbreaking report. The report was a national research project launched in 2003 that examined the attitudes, resources, and culture of African American youth exploring how these factors and others influence their decision-making, norms, and behavior.
The film has gotten positive reviews from both activists and publications. FilmCatcher.com said "The stories not only focus on the struggles these youth face but also their dreams of a world in which they can thrive, prosper, and fulfill their potential." Jet Magazine selected the film as one of their "Editor's Picks of the Week" in the April 4, 2011, issue. Woke Up Black was also an official selection of the San Diego Black Film Festival, San Francisco Black Film Festival and the Bronze Lens Film Festival of Atlanta. The film had its broadcast premier on WTTW-TV Channel 11, Chicago's public television station, on June 26, 2011.
The screening is sponsored by Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication and the Center for Urban Research and Learning.
The film has screened in Chicago and Madison, Wisc. More screenings are planned for Charleston, S.C., Memphis, Raleigh, Minneapolis, New York City and Pittsburgh. The film is on the festival circuit and is available to public television stations across the country.
For more information, go to www.wokeupblack.com or email email@example.com . Follow on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wokeupblack or at @wokeupblackdoc at Twitter.com .