American Masters Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth
Premieres nationally Friday, February 7, 9-10:30 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) in honor of Walker’s 70th birthday and Black History Month
Writer, Director and Producer
Filmmaker Pratibha Parmar has a passionate commitment to telling human stories that illuminate experiences rarely seen in the mainstream. Parmar’s award-winning work has been widely exhibited at international film festivals and broadcast in many countries. Her dedication in bringing complex subjects to mainstream media has helped changed the contours of popular discourse on race, feminism and creativity. Parmar has an exemplary track record as a director of excellent ability and vision for her pioneering documentaries and dramas.
In 1991, Parmar’s career reached a critical turning point with the release of A Place of Rage, a documentary on African-American women and the Civil Rights Movement, featuring Angela Davis and June Jordan. The film received international critical acclaim and was named Best Historical Documentary at the National Black Programming Consortium in the U.S. In the same year, she broke ground with her film Khush, one of the first film’s to give voice and visibility to South Asian gay and lesbian people. In 1993, Pratibha released her most challenging and inspirational film, Warrior Marks, which documented female genital mutilation in Africa at a time when the subject was taboo globally. This award-winning documentary was made in collaboration with Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple. Parmar and Walker also collaborated on the book Warrior Marks – Female Genital Mutilation and the Sexual Blinding of Women, which documented the making of the film (Jonathan Cape, U.K.; Harcourt Brace, U.S.).
Nina’s Heavenly Delights, her award-winning narrative feature film debut was released theatrically in the U.K. and U.S. in 2006-7 and nominated for a GLAAD Award. In October 2007, she was awarded the Visionary Award for her body of work from the One in Ten Film Festival, and is a past winner of the Frameline Film Festival Life Time Achievement Award.
Pratibha is also the co-author and editor of several books. For a full list, visit kalifilms.com.
Born in Kenya, and of Indian decent, Parmar and her family moved to England when she was 11 years old. Parmar studied at Bradford University where she was awarded a B.A. Honors Degree. Parmar spent her gap year in India working as a volunteer in rural development projects in addition to dedicating 3 months to working with Mother Teresa.
She undertook a postgraduate degree at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at Birmingham University set up by the legendary Professor Stuart Hall. While there, she co-wrote and co-edited the seminal book, The Empire Strikes Back: Race & Racism in 70s Britain.
Parmar has worked as a youth and community worker working with young South Asian women in schools and colleges envisioning and organizing the first ever U.K.-wide Young Asian Women’s Art & Culture Festival.
Parmar was an active working member of the pioneering publishing collective, Sheba Feminist Press. At Sheba, Parmar was responsible for editing and publishing writings by women of color, including the publication of The Cancer Journals by Audre Lorde (British edition). Parmar instigated and enabled the UK publication of numerous books by U.S. poet and essayist June Jordan.
Parmar teaches regularly at various educational institutions, the most recent includes Stanford University. She divides her time between London, England, and Berkeley, California.
Shaheen Haq is a production executive with Kali Films. Her association with the company began 20 years ago as a production designer on Pratibha Parmar’s early films Sari Red, Emergence, A Place of Rage, Khush and Warrior Marks. In her role as the lead producer on American Masters —Alice Walker: Beauty In Truth, Shaheen actively raised finance for the documentary with international broadcasters and investors. Shaheen has a background of 20 years of experience as an architect and project manager where she was actively involved in bids, schedules, resources, organizing and managing multiple projects from initial creative development through to successful final delivery on schedule and within budgets. She brings this discipline and extensive knowledge base to her film producing career. Shaheen had the challenging job of organizing 16 shoots over the last three years and successfully reporting to almost as many funders for Beauty In Truth.
Tena R. Clark
A musical compass has guided Tena R. Clark from rural Mississippi to Hollywood. Beginning at age five, she would visit New Orleans with her mother, a songwriter from the big band era, where she absorbed the city’s intoxicating rhythms. Her first professional gig at age 15 was playing drums at the Crescent City’s famed Roosevelt Hotel. Since then, Clark has excelled in multiple genres across an astonishing breadth of mediums. Highlights include penning award-winning country hits, contributing to multi-platinum movie soundtracks including Hope Floats, The Five Heart Beats, Where the Heart Is and My Best Friend’s Wedding. Tena has written and produced hits for the likes of Patti LaBelle, LeAnn Rimes, Dionne Warwick and Aretha Franklin, and amassed a slew of film and television credits. In 1997, she brought her interests under one umbrella when she launched DMI Music & Media Solutions.
Featured Music by
Classically trained musician Christen Lien performs original compositions on viola and bass guitar that are a mixture of classical and postmodern, acoustic and electronic sounds. Incorporating the use of guitar effect processors and looping pedals, Lien creates hybrid music and haunting, evocative performance art. Lien’s career has been a study of the subconscious, with the intention of creating sensory experiences through music and media that allow audiences to process the most challenging and vulnerable emotions and ideas of our times.
Stephen Segaller joined WNET in September, 2008. He has primary responsibility for the coordination of all national and local programming from WNET’s producing subsidiaries – THIRTEEN, WLIW21 and Creative News Group. Among the acclaimed productions Segaller coordinates are: Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, Secrets of the Dead, PBS NewsHourWeekend, Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, Cyberchase, NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, Women, War and Peace and Shakespeare Uncovered.
Segaller has been a journalist, producer, director, writer and author whose work has been broadcast and published on both sides of the Atlantic and all over the world. In the U.K., he worked for London Weekend TV and Granada TV in current affairs, then spent six years as an independent producer making documentaries for Channel 4. In the U.S., he worked at WGBH and supervised national production for Oregon Public Broadcasting – producing for PBS, CNN, Discovery, TLC, Channel 4, and other networks.
From 1999-2008 Segaller was Director, News & Public Affairs Programming for Thirteen/WNET. He created That Money Show in 2000-01; the international documentary series Wide Angle in 2002, and Exposé – America’s Investigative Reports in 2006. After 9/11, he and Bill Moyers jointly produced the specials that led to the creation of NOW with Bill Moyers. He also supervised documentaries and series such as The War of the World; Extreme Oil; Red Gold: The Epic Story of Blood; Local News; the Fred Friendly Seminars; Srebrenica – A Cry From The Grave; Kofi Annan: Center of the Storm; Maggie: Prime Minister Thatcher; Allies at War; The Blair Decade; City At War: London Calling and Legacy of War, both with Walter Cronkite; and the films of Frederick Wiseman, and Roger Weisberg.