As the conversation continues on the dearth of black representation in sci-fi cinema, I receive an email with this announcement.
When she’s not partnering up with acclaimed best-selling author Pearl Cleage to bring her novels to the screen, in what has been dubbed The Pearl Cleage Film Project, filmmaker and professor Ayoka Chenzira is developing an innovative sci-fi multimedia (film, gaming, social media) project called HERadventure.
I’ll be interviewing her in a little bit about both her teaming with Cleage as well as on this newly-announced HERadventure project.
In the meantime, the press release says it all…
HERadventure: Innovative Approach using Film/ Gaming/ Social Media to Empower Women
What would happen if the societal issues affecting women put other planets at risk? We will soon find out in HERadventure, a science fiction-based, multimedia platform project that interweaves virtual worlds, digital and social media to create a cutting-edged gaming and storytelling experience.
The HERadventure project is helmed by Ayoka Chenzira, Ph.D. (Ayomentary Productions) and HaJ (Urban Chameleon Media). The team has been developing the project since 2006. At the heart of HERadventure is a coming of age story that stars a reluctant, young woman of color who comes to earth and ends up a superhero. Ayoka and HaJ also happen to be mother and daughter with a long history of collaboration on projects featuring a unique lens on issues of women and people of color.
The National Endowment for the Arts recently validated the need for HERadventure’s interdisciplinary approach to storytelling and engagement in social issues when it awarded the project a $100,000 grant through Spelman College, where Ayoka is the founder and director of the Digital Moving Image Salon. The award is the first NEA grant for Spelman College.
Ayoka and HaJ’s innovative approach on the HERadventure project combines filmmaking, interaction through gaming elements and amplification of message through social media. “We are experimenting with ways to address social issues, personally engage viewers and reach them where they get entertainment / education in the digital age” said Ayoka. “Stories and superheroes developed for the new digital film and gaming formats seldom include women of color. HERadventure will not only address this issue but engage more young women through gaming and illuminate the interconnectivity of us all,” said HaJ.
HERadventure is scheduled to release in the spring of 2013.
Ayoka Chenzira (Ayo) is one of the first African American women to write, produce and direct a 35mm feature film, Alma’s Rainbow. Her films and digital media projects have been exhibited internationally. Ayoka is also the first African American female animator. In addition to the HERadventure project, she is currently developing the novels of New York Times Best-selling author, Pearl Cleage for the screen. This past November, Ayoka was invited to present her work at TEDx Peachtree and at the Bronze Lens Film Festival.
HaJ is an Emmy nominated film, video and media producer. She has developed her craft working at Sony Picture’s Red Wagon on the development team that produced Jarhead, Stuart Little and academy nominated film Memoirs of a Geisha. HaJ is the creator and founder of Tickles.TV and Urban Chameleon Media, which creates content for multimedia platforms for and about the multifaceted experiences of people of color. Her work has been show cased at Women of Color in Film & TV, The Black Women in Film Network, National Black Programming Consortium and the Alliance Theater.
Here’s Ayoka give her TEDx talk last November, in which you get a glimpse at what she’s going for: