Black Public Media to host Yoruba Richen Film Retrospective during PitchBLACK

Select films by the 2023 Trailblazer Award recipient will stream free for two weeks during BPM’s PitchBLACK season.

Every spring, since 2021, Black Public Media has presented a Trailblazer Award during its annual PitchBLACK Forum & Awards event.  This year, the award will be presented to documentary filmmaker/educator Yoruba Richen. As part of its celebration of her work, BPM also will present a two-week, online retrospective of her films from Mon., April 24- Sun., May 8. BPM also will host a special virtual community screening of Richen’s film How It Feels to Be Free on Wed., April 26, 5 p.m. PT/ 8 p.m. ET, BPM.

“Yoruba Richen’s films highlight issues that all Americans should know and care about,” says Leslie Fields-Cruz, executive director of Black Public Media. “Her work also celebrates the contributions Black people make toward helping this nation realize its potential. We are delighted to recognize her with our Trailblazer Award.”

BPM Trailblazers are African American documentary filmmakers whose body of work and commitment to mentoring emerging Black filmmakers are exemplary. Past recipients include Marco Williams (2021 Trailblazer) and Orlando Bagwell (2022 Trailblazer).

Over the years, Richen’s work has aired on multiple PBS strands including Frontline, POV, Independent Lens, and American Masters as well as on news and subscription-based cable outlets. Her recent films include: The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, which was nominated for a Critics Choice award; American Reckoning (2022), part of Frontline’s award-winning multi-platform series Un(re)solved; Emmy nominated How it Feels to Be Free (2021); Peabody and Emmy nominated The Sit In: Harry Belafonte Hosts the Tonight Show (2020); and The Killing of Breonna Taylor (2020). Her 2019 film, The Green Book: Guide to Freedom, premiered on the Smithsonian Channel; and her films The New Black (2013) and Promised Land (2010) won several awards before being broadcast on Independent Lens and POV, respectively.

In addition to being a prolific filmmaker, Richen heads the documentary program at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at City University of New York.

“As an educator and mentor, Yoruba works to ensure future generations of media storytellers understand the power their work can have in educating the public and influencing public discourse,” Fields-Cruz says. “Our film retrospective will provide the public a unique opportunity to see some of her best work.” 

The PitchBLACK Yoruba Richen Film Retrospective will include Promised Land (2016) and The New Black (2013) as well as other films, to be announced in the coming weeks.

The Richen Retrospective will be available on-demand at no charge to all PitchBLACK registrants from a dedicated virtual screening room during the two-week window.

The PitchBLACK Forum & Awards program opens on Tues., April 25, with the PitchBLACK Film Forum, featuring teams representing five documentary film projects. On Wed., April 26, teams of immersive media makers will compete in the PitchBLACK Immersive Forum. PitchBLACK closes on Thurs., April 27, with an awards ceremony honoring Richen, the 2023 Nonso Christian Ugbode Fellow (to be announced), and winners of the film and immersive forums. Awards of up to $150,000 in production funding will be given to projects delivering the strongest pitches. Baltimore-based comedian “Sir Alex” Robinson will emcee the event.

All PitchBLACK events are hybrid. In-person guests will attend at The Greene Space in Manhattan. To register for in-person admission, go here. To register for virtual access, go here. (Note that the PitchBLACK Film Forum is an invitational event. Public media professionals who have not received an invitation to the Film Forum should enter the code pb23ff when securing their tickets. In-person tickets to the event will be allotted as space permits.) Online attendees to PitchBLACK events will be given a virtual access code once they register.

All tickets are free. Register by April 21 for best access to in-person tickets as space is limited. For breaking news about these events, follow Black Public Media on Twitter or Instagram.

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