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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.

Chenzira has worked and lectured extensively on film throughout the United States, South America, and Europe; traversing the African continent collecting oral narratives from women, as well as training emerging filmmakers.

Chenzira received her degrees in film production and education from New York University and Columbia University/Teachers’ College. As Professor of Film at The City College of New York, she taught filmmaking to an international student body for nearly twenty years; co-creating the MFA program in Media Arts Production in 1996. Many of her films are in permanent collections including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, some of which have been translated into French and Japanese.

Chenzira was invited to serve as the first William and Camille Cosby Endowed Professor in the Arts at Spelman College in 2001, producing a wildly successful multimedia stage version of her screenplay, "Flying over Purgatory".

In 2003, Chenzira created and served as co-director (with M. Bahati Kuumba) of ORAL NARRATIVES AND DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY, a joint venture between Spelman College and the Durban Institute of Technology, where she designed and taught workshops primarily for Zulu students at DIT. (8/14)

Hair Piece
A film by Ayoka Chenzira, 1985, 10 min., Color

An animated satire on the question of self image for African American women living in a society where beautiful hair is viewed as hair that blows in t...

A film by Ayoka Chenzira, 1979, 15 min.

A portrait of Syvilla Fort focusing on the beauty of her choreography, the virtuosity of her dancing, and her role as teacher of a generation of Afric...

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Women Make Movies is a multicultural, multiracial, non-profit media arts organization which facilitiates the production, promotion, distribution, and exhibition of independent films and videotapes by and about women. contact us