Congratulations to Neema Barnette - Writer, Director, Producer, one of
Lady Filmmakers Extraordinary Women will receive the 2014 Moving Image Award!
NEEMA BARNETTE - DIRECTOR, WRITER, PRODUCER
Prominent, innovative and prolific, director and producer Neema Barnette has engaged audiences with a body of compelling socially- and politically-charged work that defies the narrow stereotypes of African-Americans usually depicted in entertainment.
Working in both television and film, Barnette has earned the respect of peers and critics alike by winning countless accolades.
“WOMAN THOU ART LOOSED ON THE 7th DAY” marks Neemas 11th movie and 3rd for theatrical release. The film stars Pam Grier, Blair Underwood, Nicole Jarbari and Sharon Leal and is produced by Neema, Bishop TD Jakes of “Jumpin The Broom” and “SPARKLE”, and code black entertainment.
The movie is a dramatic thriller that explores problems in the modern day marriage and the abduction of a little girl. THE AMC THEATER CHAIN theatrically released the feature on April 13th on 129 screens. It was number one per screen average opening weekend, beating out HUNGER GAMES. The DVD release was September 4th 2012. In Jan. 2013, the film was one of three pictures nominated for “Best Independent Feature” by the NAACP IMAGE AWARDS, along with Beast of The Southern Wild and Red Tails.
Known for her creativity and innovation, in 2009 Neema directed a gospel musical film, “HEAVEN AIN’T HARD TO FIND”, starring Kim Whitley, Cliff Powell & Reed MCCants. Neema developed a new format for gospel plays by shooting actual locations and combined theater with cinema. The picture aired on paid preview, hbo and bet.
Neema began 2007 by directing the feature film “MY SUPER SWEET 16 THE MOVIE” for MTV Paramount. The picture stars rockers Alyi & AJ and singer serria and was released in May 2007.
In 2006 Neema executive produced CUTTIN DA MUSTARD, an independent feature written and directed by Reed McCants. The film is a comedy but deals seriously with young adult illiteracy and stars Brandon T. Jackson, Sinbad, Charles Dutton, Adrienne Bailon, Keisha Knight Pulliman, Lil Zane, Jonathan Wesley and Chico Benyman.
In July 2007, Neema directed her ninth feature film “ALL YOU’VE GOT” for MTV Paramount Films. The picture was released in May of 2007.
The mini series “MIRACLE BOYS” produced in 2005 for the NOGGIN station by filmmaker Spike Lee marks Neema Barnette’s ninth movie directed for the small screen. Neema was the only female director invited to join Spikes directing team along with Laver Burton, Ernest Dickerson and Bill Duke. The project aired in February 2005 to rave reviews.
Barnette, a native of Harlem New York, began her career as a stage actress while attending New York’s High School for the Performing Arts. While earning a BA from The City College of New York, and an MFA from NYU School of The Arts, she subsequently took a position in Vinnette Carroll’s prestigious “Urban Arts Corps” as an actress and directed inner city kids in plays designed to enhance their reading skills. It was then that Neema fell in love with directing. At twenty-one, Neema made her directing debut at Joseph Papps’ Public Theatre with “THE BLUE JOURNEY” by Oyamo. Finding cinema in her work, Papp suggested she enroll in a Third World Cinema program. After graduating from the program, Neema produced an after school special titled “TO BE A MAN” for ABC Television for which she won her first EMMY AWARD.
Neema was awarded acceptance into THE AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTES DIRECTING WORKSHOP FOR WOMEN where she wrote, produced and directed her first film “SKY CAPTAIN”, a surrealistic fantasy drama about teen suicide. Sky Captain was an urban Peter Pan from the South Bronx who jumped from roofs of abandoned buildings onto mattresses.
The films innovative style and unmistakable originality propelled Neema into the vanguard of Hollywood’s film and television community. “ONE MORE HURDLE”, an NBC dramatic special won Neema her first NAACP IMAGE AWARD for her directing efforts. “THE SILENT CRIME” an NBC documentary on domestic violence, received four local EMMY NOMINATIONS and Neema won an AMERICAN WOMEN IN RADIO & TELEVISION AWARD for directing.
The episode of “What’s Happenin now” that Neema directed got her a NAACP IMAGE AWARD NOMINATION.
It also made her the FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMAN IN THE HISTORY OF TELEVISION TO DIRECT A SITCOM. This critical breakthrough resulted in subsequent directing stints on HOOPERMAN, THE ROYAL FAMILY, CHINA BEACH (Peabody Award), FRANKS PLACE (Emmy Award), and THE SINBAD SHOW, DIAGNOSIS MURDER, A DIFFERENT WORLD and multiples of THE COSBY SHOW.
While directing an episode for Cosby in which Mr. Cosby gets pregnant “THE DAY THE SPORES LANDED”, Neema mounted a new play by Richard Wesley at the Manhattan Theatre Club, “THE TALENTED TENTH”. The success of the workshop production propelled Lynn Meadows to open her off Broadway season with the play and Neema as director. That year the play won 10 ADELCO AWARDS, including BEST DIRECTOR. Also that year, neema won an “international monitor award for best director for the cosby sow episode “the day the spores landed”.
The unique cinematic style in the direction of “THE TALENTED TENTH” caught the eye of Lindsay Law, head of American Playhouse and he offered Neema a Playhouse production “ZORA IS MY NAME” starring Ruby Dee & Lou Gossett. The Delta Society awarded Neema their prestigious LILLY AWARD for exceptional representation of African American images in film.
An offer from David Putnam at Sony Pictures soon followed. Neema was selected to be in Putmans “New Directors Program”. She was given a two deal on Sony’s lot. Along with Umberto Paseline, Neema developed a feature film to direct “Listen For The Fig Tree”. Ironically, Neema was signed by the Creative Artists Agency as Mr. Putnam left Columbia. She has remained a client for thirteen years.
Barnette’s work on a CBS after school special “DIFFERENT WORLDS, AN INTERRACIAL LOVE STORY” received 4 DAYTIME EMMY NOMINATIONS and got Neema a prestigious DIRECTORS GUILD OF AMERICA NOMINATION FOR BEST DIRECTING. It also brought her to the attention of the telefilm community.
Gloria Steinman and Roselyn Heller hired Neema to direct “BETTER OFF DEAD” a motion picture for Lifetime starring Mare Winning ham and Tyra Ferrell. The film was nominated for a CABLE ACE AWARD. The critical acclaim and success of the picture catapulted Neema into the ranks of the handful of sought after directors whose telefilms brought in high ratings.
It also got her the attention of FRANK PRICE, then chairman of Sony Pictures, who gave her a two-year housekeeping deal to produce, write and direct “LISTEN FOR THE FIG TREE” an original screenplay. This was the second time Neema made history. She became THE FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMAN TO GET A DEAL at a major motion picture studio. Neemas three-year housekeeping deal included developing film and television projects for the studio.
Neema directed the television feature “SCATTERED DREAMS” for CBS starring Tyne Daley, Gerald McCrainey and cast Alicia Silverstone as Daley’s daughter. Critics raved and gave it an “A” in People magazine.
Producer Dick Berg, father of Jeff Berg, CEO of ICM Talent Agency, hired Neema to direct another CBS feature movie “SIN & REDEMPTION”. The picture garnished critical acclaim and was released theatrically abroad. Later, Neema worked with Rob Estes on an ABC movie “CLOSE TO DANGER” and also directed a feature for video release for ARTISION FILMS, “SPIRIT LOST”, staring Regina Taylor, Cynda Williams and Leon.
Mr. Bill Cosby contracted her to direct several episodes of his one-hour detective series for NBC, THE COSBY MYSTERIES. For one episode she directed the show received a PEABODY AND EMMY AWARD.
Viacom’s event Olympic telepicture produced for the ShowTime Network, “RUN FOR THE DREAM, The Gail Devers Story” marked Neema Barnette’s 7th movie directed for the small screen. The critically acclaimed picture stars Charlene Woodard and Academy Award winner Louis Gossett Jr. and earned Neema her 5th NAACP IMAGE AWARD NOMINATION.
Neema also directed multiple episodes of “7th HEAVEN” for Spelling Productions and multiple episodes of “DIAGNOSIS MURDER” starring Dick Van Dyke for Viacom.
In September of 2003, Neema signed on as Director and Producer of the feature film “CIVIL BRAND” starring Lisa Rae, Mos Def, Da Brat, N’Bushe Wright, Monica Calhoun, MC Light, Reed McCants and Clifton Powell. In June 2002, the film won the BLOCKBUSTER AUDIENCE AWARD at The Black American Film Festival in Miami. In August 2002 CIVIL BRAND also won the AUDIENCE AWARD & SPECIAL JURY AWARD at the URBANWORLD Film Festival in New York City. CIVIL BRAND was an official selection of The American Film Institutes Film Festival in November 2002 in Los Angeles where it was featured in the American Directions division. In January of 2003, CIVIL BRAND was an OFFICIAL SELECTION of the SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL and was featured in their SPECTRUM division. CIVIL BRAND was the Opening Night Gala Feature for the 2003 PAN AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL in Los Angeles and won THE FESTIVAL AWARD at Pan African Film Festival in February 2003 and Neema received the SOJOURNER TRUTH AWARD. In April 2003, CIVIL BRAND was an official selection of the PHILLY FILM FESTIVAL and won the AUDIENCE AWARD at the Roxbury Black Film Festival in Boston. CIVIL BRAND is featured in the spring/summer issue of FRENCH INTERNATIONAL MENS VOGUE and also accepted into the DENMARK INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL in November 2004.
Lions Gate Films released CIVIL BRAND theatrically
Neema has been featured in AMERICAN FILM, DGA MAGAZINE, LOS ANGELES TIMES, VOGUE, BUSINESS WEEKLY, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER and other periodicals concerning her work with CIVIL BRAND
Before the theatrical release of “CIVIL BRAND” Neema directed episode five of the popular Warner Brothers show “GILMORE GIRLS”.
In March of 2006, the Reel Sistas of the Diaspora and NY Women in Film awarded Neema the “TRAILBLAZER AWARD” at the Brooklyn Museum of Art Neema.
Because of Neemas extensive background in television, the legendary Director/Producer of The Academy Awards, Gilbert Gates, hired Neema as a Professor at UCLA’s School of Film & Television in 1997. For fifteen years to present, Neema has been teaching television directing and producing for multi camera and single camera. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate level classes. In September 2002 Neema also became an associate professor at the USC School of Cinema where she taught film production, television development and directing to undergraduate students for seven years while continuing her professional directing and producing career.
Neema was one of ten prestigious artists selected to judge the American Film Institutes “Best Films Award” in 2002.
Neema serves on the DGA African American Steering Committee and is a member of The Black Filmmakers Foundation since its inception. She is an active AFI alumnus and serves on the panel of the AFI Independent Film committee. Neema was on the executive board of the IFP Gordon Parks Scholarship fund and is a judge for the NAACP Feature Film Award and serves yearly as a judge for the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles.
In February 2004, WOMEN IN FILM honored Neema along with Diane Carroll and Delores Robinson at their Breaking Ground Breakfast in Beverly Hills.
On November 30th, 2009 in New York City, Congressman Charles Rangel declared NEEMA BARNETTE DAY in her hometown of Harlem. Over 1000 fans gathered to pay tribute to Neema’s talent, success and making history by being the first Back Woman to ever-direct s sitcom and to garner a housekeeping deal with a major studio.
Neema operates her own production company, HOPE ENTERTAINMENT.
SHE served as EXECUTIVE PRODUCER for the feature; film “CUTTIN DA MUSTARD, staring Brandon T. Jackson, Keisha Knight Pulliam, Adrienne Bailon, Sinbad and Charles Dutton.
Neema is also Executive Director of Live Theatre Gang, a young urban theatre and performance company. She lives between New York and Los Angeles with her husband and daughter, playwright Ah’Keisha McCants.
Neema has just completed writing the screenplay “When All Is Said an Done” adapted from a short story by rapper/writer Queen Pen.
Member – Directors Guild of America, Writers Guild of America
FEATURE SCRIPTS WRITTEN
WHEN IT’S SAID AND DONE – The coming of age of a female rapper from the streets of Brooklyn.
’WOMAN THOU ART LOOSED ON THE 7th DAY’ for Bishop TD Jakes and Code Black Entertainment- RE-WRITE- Released theatrically by AMC Theater Chain in April of 2012
FIVE–O - Two street friends, one Latino, one African American, who come of age in Spanish Harlem. Written for Henry Weinstein
THE GUIDE Columbia Pictures, Frank Price
LISTEN FOR THE FIG TREE – A coming of age Christmas story – written for David Putnam – for Sony Pictures.
OF CHURCH AND STATE – Mini series on politics and religion in Harlem with Director Carl Franklin.
CUTTIN DA MUSTARD - COMEDY –“Fame meets Boyz in the Hood” - Young aspiring actors in Queens NY tackle illiteracy and finding themselves.
CAFÉ MILLINIUMN” – Hip Hop poetic play about a café in New York where Urban Youth express their souls through their poetry. Continuous run since September 2000 at New York Comedy Club.
Award Presenter at Gatsby Awards & Gala
Romell Foster-Owens Producer/Director/Writer is an EMMY AWARD winning Producer, and award winning Director and writer who has been in the business of Writing, Producing and Directing award-winning commercials, television series, made for TV movies, documentaries, and independent feature films for over 20 years. Ms. Foster-Owens is a graduate of the prestigious American Film Institute (Directing) and San Diego State University (Theatre) and is an Alumnus of the 2009 Producers Guild of America’s Diversity Workshop and a 2004 Alumnus of Robert De Niro’s Tribeca All Access Program.
Ms. Foster-Owens has the rare distinction of three films that she produced being “Official Selections” of the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in France including the 2014 film THE BALLAD OF SNAKE OIL SAM directed by Arlene Bogna. Foster-Owens also directed the feature film THE THREE MUSCATELS starring Richard Pryor.
Foster-Owens has won numerous awards, including an Emmy Award, NAACP Image Award, Black Filmmaker’s Hall of Fame Award for Best Independent Film, the National Council of Christians and Jews Humanitarian Award, 2009 Women in Film Spotlight Award. Commercials and PSA’s that Romell produced, directed and or wrote won a 2008 Platinum Aurora Award, 2009, 2010, 2012 Gold Aurora Awards, 2009, 2010 and 2012 Telly and Addy Awards. Ms. Foster-Owens has developed and produced over 200 hours of series television.
Recent television pilots produced and developed by Ms. Foster-Owens include ALOHA!, COMEDY CAMP, RALLYE STAR and ALAKAZIA LIVE!
Ms. Foster-Owens produced the Lyndon Barrois film, THE LIFT winning Best Picture and Best Director at the 2012 Madrid International Film Festival and in 2012 produced the Tommy Ford directed feature film CONFLICT OF INTEREST and is Consultant Producer on the Nathan Ives Film, IT’S NOT YOU IT’S ME and Half Moon Films 2015 release Gibby.
Romell is developing a slate of feature films for Jowharah Films that includes the novel COLORED WAITING ROOM by Patricia Pope starring Vivica A. Fox, THE VELVET ROOM written by Allison Brandin and Jana Siciliano and with Vista Point Pictures, AMARYLLIS BANG! BANG! Directed by Arlene Bogna. In 2015 Ms. Foster-Owens will produce and direct her passion project a true story about the Vietnam War, THE JUNGLE WARRIORS based on her screenplay adaptation of the book of the same name by Sgt. Bobby Briscoe that she will produce and direct. Foster-Owens will also direct LORD GIVE ME A SIGN written by Koji Steven Sakai and Emily Brauer Rogers starring Earl DMX Simmons and Vivica A. Fox
Ms. Foster-Owens is a member of the Alliance Of Women Directors, Women In Film, is a current Board Member of the Gang Alternatives Program and a Board Member Emeritus of The American Film Institute’s Center for Advance Film Studies and is the President of Jowharah Films. Reel: www.jowharahfilms.com