RESCHEDULED: PROGRAM- 15th National Black Writers Conference (NBWC 2020)

UPDATED 3/18/2020:

The National Black Writers Conference (#NBWC2020),

Slated for March 26 – 29, is Postponed

and Will Reconvene November 11 – 14, 2020.

READ PRESS RELEASE AND INFO ON REFUNDS HERE.

NOTE: The general content of the conference and its invited participants will remain as described below. An updated schedule will be posted in the coming weeks. Thank you for your patience.


Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, CUNY

presents the

15th National Black Writers Conference

PROGRAM SCHEDULE

 

The Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, CUNY presents the 15th National Black Writers Conference and the theme this year is “Activism, Identity, and Race: Playwrights and Screenwriters at the Crossroads.”

Also known as #NBWC2020, the conference is a public gathering of writers, scholars, literary professionals, theater and film luminaries, students, and the public. The four-day event will be held on the campus of Medgar Evers College in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY.

Over the last decade, we have seen an increase in the writing and works by Black playwrights, screenwriters, and scriptwriters. These writers, at a crossroad, are focused on breaking new ground; creating bold new work in theater, film, and television; and expanding the narrative of the Black experience in America and throughout the African Diaspora. Panelists and special guests will examine the ways race, identity, politics, and popular culture shape the production of plays, films, and television shows. The conference features roundtable conversations, panel discussions, a town hall, films, author readings, writing workshops, local vendors, and much more.

AKILA WORKSONGS is a presenting partner for the 15th National Black Writers Conference.

For more information, please visit www.centerforblackliterature.org, call 718 804 8883, or visit writers@mec.cuny.edu. Media inquiries are directed to April R. Silver or Lea Byrd at pr@akilaworksongs.com or (718) 756-8501 (office).

Download the #NBWC2020 Program Schedule HERE.


PRE-CONFERENCE PROGRAM

As of March 18, 2020 ◊ Program Subject to Change

 TO BE RESCHEDULED

John Oliver Killens Reading Series Program

6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Edison O. Jackson Auditorium at Medgar Evers College (pending) **

Black Divas on Stage: Challenges of Women Playwrights with invited speakers Elizabeth Van Dyke, Ebony Jo-Ann, and Trazana Beverly

Curated and Moderated by MARCIA PENDELTON of Walk Tall Girl Productions


TUESDAY, NOV. 10, 2020 – TENTATIVE.

NBWC Poetry Slam

6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

The MEC Café/Welcome Center at Medgar Evers College **

Host and MC: TARISHI “MIDNIGHT” SHULER

Presented and curated by CURTIS HARRIS of Green Earth Poets Cafe

All poets are welcome to participate in this popular slam. Trophies and cash prizes will be awarded!


THURSDAY, NOV. 11, 2020 

Youth Day Literary Programs

12:30 PM – 3:00 PM

Founders Auditorium at Medgar Evers College **

High school literary program coordinated by KEL SPENCER (R.O.L.L. Program Director, Center for Black Literature, Medgar Evers College).

 

1:00 PM– 3:00 PM

Founders Auditorium at Medgar Evers College **

Creative writing workshops with

LIZA JESSIE PETERSON, NSANGOU NJIKAM, and MICHAEL GREEN.

 

Film Screening and Talkback

The Hate U Give

6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Founders Auditorium at Medgar Evers College, CUNY **

The Hate U Give (RT 2 hours 13 minutes) is a 2018 American drama film directed George Tillman Jr. with a screenplay by Audrey Wells. It is based on the 2017 young adult novel (of the same name) by Angie Thomas. Click image (above) or HERE to watch the trailer.

Curated by MILES McAFEE (School of Professional and Community Development, Medgar Evers College). Moderator: ZULEMA BLAIR (Professor, Medgar Evers College)

 


MAIN CONFERENCE PROGRAM

(As of March 18, 2020 ◊ Program Subject to Change)

 

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 11, 2020

Presentation of Conference Papers

Edison O. Jackson Auditorium at Medgar Evers College **

Scholars and writers discuss works of honorees and featured speakers who have had their work developed into dramatic plays, screenplays, and documentaries. Curated by MUDIWA PETTUS (Assistant Professor of English, Medgar Evers College).

10:00 AM – 11:20 PM 

Panel 1

“Re-Casting Our Experience: The Dismantling of African-American Works of Fiction within the Film Industry as seen in the works of Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbows enuf and Alice Walker’s The Color Purple” Chy’Na “Empress Beatrice” Nellon (Philander Smith College)

“From Magic to Cinematic: The Importance of Abstraction in Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf” Britt Threatt (Brown University)

“Pink and Black: Romanticizing the Urban Diurnal” Christina Knowles (Hunter College, CUNY)

Moderator/Respondent: IYUN OSAGIE (Oregon State University)

♦♦♦

11:30 AM – 12:50 PM

Panel 2

“The Wake Work of ‘Cartography”  Nicole Walker (Lehman College, CUNY)

“‘wild until we are free:’ community, culture, and the self, in The ChiAllia Abdullah-Matta (La Guardia Community, CUNY)

“From Researcher to Content Creator: One Scholar’s Journey”

Donnetrice Allison (Stockton University)

“Where We Stand : Afrika, the Black Aesthetic in Theatre, and Audience”

Ms. Akulah Agbami (Director of BLACK* artists on the move; Artistic Director of Sheba Soul Ensemble)

Moderator: NSUBUGA BRIGHT TITUS (Institute of Culture and Social Anthropology, Vienna University)

♦♦♦

1:00 PM to 2:20 PM

Panel 3

“Mad Science: A Brief Survey of Medical Bias In Superhero Origin Stories” Research Affiliate, MIT; CEO, Multimer) & Alexander Wright III (Supervisor of Outpatient Medical Programs at The Kennedy Krueger Institute) & Arlene Ducao (Adjunct Associate Professor, NYU School of Engineering)

“From Short Story to Screen: James’ Coming of Age and Transformation from Boy to Man (and Not Bum) in Ernest J. Gaines’ “The Sky is Gray” Dr. Pearlie Peters (Rider University)

“Give us real black film! Save the alternative endings and assumptions for ya mama.” Kristin Hunt (Poet and Screenwriter)

Moderator/Respondent: CARLYLE THOMPSON (Medgar Evers College, CUNY)

◊◊

Dr. Edith Rock Elders Writing Workshop Presentation

3:30 PM – 5:00 PM

Edison O. Jackson Auditorium (EOJ) at

Medgar Evers College **

 

Members of the Dr. Edith Rock Elders Writing Workshop will present readings on the theme called “Home Remedies” and will travel the African Diaspora with sharp, funny memories of poultices, powders, and potions created to maintain wellness in our diverse Black communities. They see this as resistance to gentrification (now kale is cool), big pharma, and, of course, to the racism that physically manifests in the form of disease when we aren’t vigilant about strengthening our physical selves. Curated by EISA ULEN RICHARDSON (Workshop Instructor, Center for Black Literature, Medgar Evers College). Moderator: AMBER MAGRUDER (Writer and Editor, Office of Communications and Marketing, Medgar Evers College). Pictured: Members of the Dr. Edith Rock Elders Writing Workshop at a previous NBWC event.

◊◊

 

NBWC OPENING PROGRAM

For the Culture (This Event is FREE and Open to All)

5:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Founders Auditorium at Medgar Evers College **

A stellar roster of hip-hop, spoken word, and performance artists will examine films and plays from sociocultural, political, and global perspectives. Also, they’ll discuss the intersections of activism, identity, race, and art in theater and film. Speakers: Talib Kweli and jessica Care moore. Moderator: APRIL R. SILVER of AKILA WORKSONGS (NBWC Presenting Partner)


THURSDAY, NOV. 12, 2020

DAYTIME HOST: Dr. Wallace L. Ford II

 Fiction and Playwriting Talkshops

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Medgar Evers College, CUNY

Rooms: TBA

Workshop Leaders: DONNA HILL (fiction) and LIZA JESSIE PETERSON (playwriting)

 

TOWN HALL

The Role of the Media, Critics, and Reviewers on Black Plays and Film

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Edison O. Jackson Auditorium at Medgar Evers College **

Presented as a Community Conversation, the Town Hall will examine the role of the media, critics, and reviewers in (1) shaping the writing of playwrights and screenwriters and (2) in bringing the dramatic play to the stage and the screenplay to the screen.

The conversation will include emerging and seasoned panelists whose work is impacted by professional critics and the media-at-large. Also, audience members will be encouraged to provide their views on the subject and suggest ways for moving forward. Speakers: Lisa Cortés, Vincent Cunningham, David Greaves, Pamela Newkirk, and Marcia Pendelton.

Moderator: BRIDGETT M. DAVIS | Sponsored by Our Time Press

ROUNDTABLE

Dasan Ahanu

The Impact of Hip-Hop and Popular Culture on Black Playwriting and Screenwriting

1:00 PM – 2:30 PM

Edison O. Jackson Auditorium at Medgar Evers College , CUNY**

Panelists will examine how hip-hop and popular culture have influenced and shaped the plays, films, and television scripts created by Black playwrights, screenwriters, and scriptwriters. They will also look at trends in experimental theater and independent films by Black playwrights and screenwriters. Speakers: Dasan Ahanu, Radha Blank (pictured), Shaun Neblett, NSangou Njikam, and Carl Hancock Rux. Moderator: SADE LYTHCOTT of the National Black Theatre.

 

ROUNDTABLE

Telling Our Stories: Transcending Barriers and Boundaries on Stage and Screen

3:00 PM – 4:30 PM

Edison O. Jackson Auditorium at Medgar Evers College, CUNY **

Artists and writers interrogate their interior lives and collective experiences to document their stories in a country where racism, sexual violence, gender discrimination, alienation, miseducation, immigration, and cultural conflicts are very present. The speakers here will explore these issues in theater, film, and television.

Speakers: Donja R. Love, Amina Henry, Nina Angela Mercer (pictured), and H. “Herukhuti” Sharif Williams.

Moderator: DIONNE BENNETT

Dramatic Presentations

5:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Edison O. Jackson Auditorium at Medgar Evers College **

Alexis Alleyne-Caputo

5:00 PM –  5:30 PM: ALEXIS ALLEYNE-CAPUTO, interdisciplinary artist, writer, and filmmaker.

Tracie Morris

5:30 PM – 6:00 PM: TRACIE MORRIS, poet, educator, and performance artist.

 

NBWC Poetry Café

Hermina Marcellin

6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Dweck Cultural Center at Central Brooklyn Public Library **

Curated by WENDY ROBINSON and TAI ALLEN. Host: HERMINA MARCELLIN (Adjunct Professor, Medgar Evers College)

CONFERENCE PUBLIC CEREMONY

Woodie King, Jr.

 

7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Founders Auditorium at Medgar Evers College, CUNY **

The opening of the 15th National Black Writers Conference will feature a robust conversation with Ngozi Anyanwu, Stanley Nelson, Woodie King Jr. (left), and Voza Rivers.

Moderator: NINA ANGELA MERCER

Host: LURIE DANIEL-FAVORS

 


FRIDAY, NOV. 13, 2020

DAYTIME HOST: Kel Spencer

Publishing, Poetry, Playwriting Talkshops

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Medgar Evers College (Rooms: TBA)

Workshop Leaders: GLENDA HOWARD (publishing), ARRIEL VINSON (poetry), and DARRELL HOLNES (playwriting).

Eventbrite - Talkshops at the 15th NBWC March 2020 (For registrants ONLY.)

Short Film Screenings and Talkback

ImageNation’s

presents

RACE CARD: Short Films Exploring Activism, Identity, and Race  

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Edison O. Jackson Auditorium at Medgar Evers College **

ImageNation’s Sōl Cinema Cafe is proud to present RACE CARD: Short Films Exploring Activism, Identity, and Race. These short works delve into these issues with wit, humor and brutal honesty, in an effort to spark dialogue and effect change.

Featured works include Paris Blues in Harlem, a dramatic look at gentrification in this historic Black community; Harriet Returns, a satire the ponders what Harriet Tubman would say to today’s youth; BURDEN, an exploration of the Black man’s burden in America; and Little Apple, an award-winning web series featuring a 9-year-old superhero who defends her community. The films will be followed by a filmmaker Q&A session. RACE CARD offers a taste of what the new, Harlem-based, Sōl Cinema Cafe offers. To learn more visit www.solcinemacafe.com

Moderator: MOIKGANTSI KGAMA

Films

Harriet Returns

Director: Marquis Smalls

TRT: 9min

Harriet Tubman comes back to life in present-day times to confront young men on their use of the N-word and how they represent themselves today.

 

Marquis Smalls is a passionate, dedicated, driven and dynamic ScreenwriterDirector-Producer currently pursuing his dream of creating innovative, entertaining stories for the web, stage, film, and television while offering a “fresh” perspective on American culture, stories, and characters.

 

♦♦♦

 Paris Blues in Harlem

Director: Nadhege Ptah

TRT: 15min

When a desperate woman attempts to save her rigid grandfather’s failing Harlem jazz nightclub, she is faced with a choice between legacy and money.

 

Nadhege Ptah is the  founder and  CEO of the Harlem‐based production company MAAT  Films. Her work attempts to shed light on honest universal stories while igniting and  supporting change  globally. Her past projects include three award-­winning  short films,  Harlem  Love, which  she starred, produced, guided and supervised the direction in  post-­production. It premiered privately in February  2017 to celebrate the hundredth anniversary  of  the   Harlem  Renaissance with Sonia Sanchez whose voice and poem featured in the film. Her first short film DoDo TiTi she was the producer, writer, and actress, guided and supervised the direction in  post-­production. It continues to screen at various festivals,  and received nominations for best director, best festival short film,  and cinematography and won the best actress.

♦♦♦

Burden - Film StillBurden

Director: Nathan Hale Williams

TRT: 21 min

Burden tells the Story of Bennett Lewis, a highly successful and highly educated family man who in spite of his success still has to deal with the perils of being a Black man in America.

 

Richard E. Pelzer II, President & CEO of MEGA Personalities a Business Development Management Firm founded by him in 1994 based in New York City, the Founder of Harlem2020 and the Emerging Marketing Director of Lemon Brands. A graduate from Kent State University in Ohio, with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Art History and Business Management, Pelzer’s strong leadership skills and creative vision assist clients with national and international business opportunities, develops and manages them for clients in the fashion, beauty and/or entertainment industries.

♦♦♦

Little Apple

Director: Riley S. Wilson

TRT: Approx. 10 min

Winner of the 2019 American Black Film Festival, Little Apple an award-winning sci-fi/drama series created using Afrofuturism. Take a dive into the world of a young Harlem girl, Little Apple, as she develops special abilities to combat evil spirits and dismantle systems of oppression.

 

A career content producer, Riley S. Wilson is a writer, director, and producer hailing from Columbia, SC. A graduate of the Howard School of Business, Wilson got his start reporting at Advertising Age and Creativity-Online before eventually going freelance as a content producer and copywriter for brands. He is the writer and director of ‘Orange Bright’, a short film based on his 2011 novella my ID.

In 2018, Wilson founded ATS.4 Inc., a production studio and multimedia services provider that specializes in the development and marketing of multimedia and new media, including: comic books, television programs, films, animation, games and interactive content with a specific tilt towards super-serving people of color. His most recent work, ‘Little Apple’ is the winner of the 2019 American Black Film Festival jury award for Best Web Series.

 

PANEL DISCUSSION

Defying Stereotypes: Writing Plays, Films, and Scripts from the Black Gaze

1:00 PM – 2:30 PM

Edison O. Jackson Auditorium at Medgar Evers College **

Panelists will explore the manner in which Black playwrights, screenwriters, and scriptwriters provide the Black gaze in the works they create. They will also examine the importance of writing stories and plays that depict the full spectrum of the Black community and experiences; the importance of resisting stereotypes and creating complex characters to reveal our interior lives; and how gender and identity politics impact the works that are created for the stage, film, and television. Panelists: Sandra Shannon, Shay Youngblood, Eisa Davis, and B. Nandi Jacob.

Moderator: WALLACE L. FORD II

ROUNDTABLE

The Playwright and Screenwriter as Activist

2:45 PM – 4:00 PM

Edison O. Jackson Auditorium at Medgar Evers College **

Addressing racial and other social justice issues in plays and films, the panelists of this roundtable discussion will examine how today’s climate influences character, plot, and viewpoint in the works they create.

Speakers: Keith Josef Adkins, Ngozi Anyanwu, Kia Corthron, Antoinette Nwandu, and Liza Jessie Peterson. Moderator: ADESOLA OSAKALUMI

 

ROUNDTABLE

Black Theater and Film: Looking Back, Moving Forward

“Celebrating 50 Years of Advancing Knowledge, Social Justice, and Excellence” at Medgar Evers College, CUNY

4:15 PM – 5:30 PM

Edison O. Jackson Auditorium at Medgar Evers College **

This panel is in “Celebrating 50 Years of Advancing Knowledge, Social Justice, and Excellence” at Medgar Evers College. Panelists take a look at current and future trends in plays, screenplays, and scripts written by Black writers and address the question: Do we need more complex and nuanced stories in theater, television, and film? They also discuss the importance of diversifying the film and theater industry and ways to inspire the next generation of writers and filmmakers.

Speakers: Carl Clay, Aurin Squire (pictured), Elizabeth Van Dyke, and Richard Wesley.

Moderator: SANDRA ADELL


SATURDAY, NOV. 14, 2020

Screenwriting, Poetry, Publishing, and Young Adult Fiction Talkshops

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Medgar Evers College (Rooms TBA)

Workshop Leaders: CEDRIC HILL (screenwriting), TBD (poetry), NORMA PEREZ HERNANDEZ (publishing), ARRIEL VINSON (young adult fiction)

Eventbrite - Talkshops at the 15th NBWC March 2020 (For registrants ONLY.)

NBWC Film Festival (This Festival is FREE and Open to All)

12:00 PM – 4:30 PM

Founders Auditorium at Medgar Evers College **

Curated and coordinated by AFRICAN VOICES/REEL SISTERS OF THE DIASPORA FILM FESTIVAL

The 15th National Black Writers Conference and African Voices magazine will present Milestones: A Celebration of Revolutionary Music & Thought, a selection of films celebrating the power of music to inspire community action and empowerment. The showcase includes a slice of award-winning films from Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series, the first Academy qualifying festival for short narratives devoted to women of color.

SANCTUARY — Film Section I – 12 noon-12:48 PM (includes 15 minute Q&A)

  • Brooklyn to Benin: A Vodou Pilgrimage
  • Cotton Candy
  • 800 lb Gorilla

SO WHAT — Film Section II – 12:50 PM – 1:50 PM (includes 20 minute Q&A)

  • Paris Blues In Harlem
  • Kojo: A Short Documentary
  • *Sundays at The Triple Nickel

Film Section III

FEATURE PRESENTATION

2 PM – 4:30 PM

*Miles Davis: Birth of The Cool

Featuring a special Q&A session with Quincy Troupe. Moderator: Rev. Malika Lee Whitney

Founded in 1997 by African Voices and LIU, Reel Sisters will be held on Oct. 24-25, 2020 at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Brooklyn. Info: www.reelsisters.org.

NBWC AWARDS AND TRIBUTE PROGRAM

7:30 PM – 9:00 PM

Founders Auditorium at Medgar Evers College, CUNY **

Host: ANTOINETTE ROBERSON

Opening Libation by CHIEF BABA NEIL CLARKE

A Tribute to Toni Morrison by SANDRA GUZMAN, journalist, documentary filmmaker, and author.

Presentations by 15th NBWC Honorees:


HOW TO CONTACT AND ENGAGE WITH US
CBL DIGITAL MARKETING DIRECTORY
For additional information, call or email us at (718) 804-8883 or writers@mec.cuny.edu

Request for interviews are directed to AKILA WORKSONGS: pr@akilaworksongs.com or (718) 756-8501

** VENUE LEGEND

  • Founders Auditorium at Medgar Evers College is located at 1650 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11225.
  • Dweck Auditorium at Center Brooklyn Library is located at 10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, NY 11238.
  • Edison O. Jackson Auditorium (EOJ) at Medgar Evers College is located at 1638 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11225 (across the street from the main building).