David Winton Bell Gallery

Event Details

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Janicza Bravo, Savannah Knoop, and Brontez Purnell in a conversation moderated by Maori Karmael Holmes | Savannah Knoop: Soothing the Seams


Four filmmakers discuss adaptation, “truth” in narrative, and their most recent projects; the feature-length Zola (Bravo), and shorts The Tumbler and SCREENS: A Project About “Community” (Knoop), and 100 Boyfriends (Purnell). This pre-recorded event is in conjunction with the exhibition Savannah Knoop: Soothing the Seams, which opens to the public on July 9th.

Janicza Bravo is an award-winning director and writer who continues to push the creative boundaries in Hollywood by breathing life into the most distinctive of stories. Most recently, Janicza served as the director and co-writer of the highly anticipated film, Zola, which is based on a viral 148-tweet thread by A’ziah “Zola” King. A24 will release the film in theatres in Summer 2021. The film explores the story of Zola’s road trip to Florida with an unlikely friend, Stefani. What begins as a seductive and glamourous trip quickly transforms into a 48-hour odyssey. Co-written by Slave Play playwright Jeremy O’Harris and starring Taylour Paige, Riley Keough, Nicholas Braun, and Colman Domingo, the film premiered in competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and received critical acclaim, calling it “indie film art.” Upcoming, Janicza will write, direct and executive produce Annapurna’s series adaptation of Ian Parker’s New Yorker article A Suspense Novelist’s Trail of Deceptions, which will star Jake Gyllenhaal. The series will explore the complex life of former book editor Dan Mallory, and the struggles and strange twists that led to his historic success of writing the first debut novel to hit number one on The New York Times bestseller list in twelve years. Janicza’s previous film work has screened at AFI, BAM, Carnegie Hall, SXSW, Sundance, and Tribeca. Her feature film debut Lemon premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was sold to Magnolia Pictures. In 2014, Filmmaker Magazine named her as one to watch in "25 New Faces of Film.” That same year, her short film Gregory Go Boom won the Jury Prize for US Fiction at Sundance. On the television side, she directed the “Juneteenth” episode of Atlanta as well as episodes of HBO’s Divorce, Here and Now, In Treatment; Netflix’s Love and Dear White People; and Amazon’s Forever. A NYU graduate with a degree in directing and theatre design, Janicza was born in New York City and currently resides in Los Angeles. 

Maori Karmael Holmes is a curator, filmmaker and writer. She founded BlackStar in 2012 and serves as its Artistic Director and CEO. She has organized programs in film at a myriad of organizations including Anthology Film Archives, Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles), The Underground Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. As a director, her works have screened internationally including her feature documentary Scene Not Heard: Women in Philadelphia Hip-Hop (2006). She has also directed and produced works for Colorlines.com, Visit Philadelphia, India.Arie, and Mike Africa, Jr. of MOVE. Her writing has most recently appeared in The Believer, Film Quarterly, Seen, Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good, How We Fight White Supremacy: A Field Guide to Black Resistance, and the forthcoming Collective Wisdom: Co-Creating Media Within Communities Across Disciplines and Algorithms. Maori received her MFA in Film & Media Arts from Temple University and her BA in History from American University. She currently serves on the board of American Documentary (POV), Asian Arts Initiative, the advisory boards of Ulises, Vidiots, and Lightbox Film Center; and is a member of Brown Girls Doc Mafia, The Community Board, and Programmers of Color Collective. Maori was a 2019-2020 Soros Equality Fellow and serves as Mediamaker-in-Residence at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, Curator-at-Large at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, and a Creative Executive with Blackbird.

Savannah Knoop is an artist and educator working in film, sculpture, writing, and performance. They have exhibited and performed at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Artist Curated Projects, Los Angeles; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Modern Art, Movement Research, and Leslie Lohman Museum, New York. Their solo exhibition Savannah Knoop: Soothing the Seams is currently on view at the Bell Gallery at Brown University.

Brontez Purnell is a writer, musician, dancer, filmmaker, and performance artist. He is the author of a graphic novel, a novella, a children’s book, and the novel Since I Laid My Burden Down. Recipient of a 2018 Whiting Award for Fiction, he was named one of the 32 Black Male Writers for Our Time by T: New York Times Style Magazine in 2018. Purnell is also the frontman for the band the Younger Lovers, the co-founder of the experimental dance group the Brontez Purnell Dance Company, the creator of the renowned cult zine Fag School, and the director of several short films, music videos, and, most recently, the documentary Unstoppable Feat: Dances of Ed Mock. He recently released his current novel 100 Boyfriends on FSGxMCD.  Born in Triana, Alabama, he’s lived in Oakland, California, for 19 years.