It is unbelievably tragic that we have lost Michelle Materre. She was a huge presence in our world and an immense promoter of Black women and BIPOC filmmakers. Experienced in all aspects of the field, she always had brilliant curatorial ideas that brought BIPOC independent films and makers, including Third World Newsreel’s, into the light, winning the Film Heritage Award twice with Tell It Like It Is: Black Independents in New York, 1968–1986 (with Jake Perlin, Film Society of Lincoln Center 2015) and her 2017 series One Way or Another: Black Women’s Cinema, 1970–1991 (with Nellie Killian and BAMcinematek). One of her most cherished accomplishments was being an early promoter and champion of Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust. Dorothy Thigpen, our former Executive Director, first met Michelle in 1990 at a Flaherty seminar and they bonded. Michelle even worked for a time as TWN Distribution Director in the early 2000s. A great speaker, she led many public seminars with TWN, and would come up with ideas for exhibitions and more. But most of all, she was a warm, welcoming, and encouraging beacon for emerging filmmakers, working as a producer, teaching at the New School, being on numerous boards, and producing her Creatively Speaking series. We thought, hoped, that she would power through all this and keep going. We will miss her.
Another tragedy is the loss of activist/journalist Hyun Lee, who worked for decades to organize for change — from her work at the Committee Against Anti Asian Violence (CAAAV) to Nodutdol for Korean Community Development and Women Cross DMZ. Hyun presented at many TWN programs on Korean films and Korea peace issues and we were also fiscal sponsor for her Zoom in Korea web project. She was exactly the kind of organizer and thinker that we wanted to be “when we grew up”, and that we should strive to be now in her memory.
Finally, the third March tragedy is the death of Brent Renaud. Known for his brave award-winning social issue films with his brother Craig, TWN knew him when he was just starting out, an intern at DCTV, working with filmmaker and educator Hye-Jung Park. Another terrible loss–on top of the other journalists who have now been killed in conflict just this year.
Our condolences go out to the families, friends and colleagues of all these brave and impactful people who we will miss.
But this is our immediate tragedy. Our hearts also go out to the people of Ukraine, who are suffering and dying in this war. And please remember the women who were massacred in Atlanta one year ago — and all the people who are still being attacked for being Asian.
BIPOC history and culture through media and talk is part of the solution, and TWN will continue this work as Michelle and Hyun did, and as we hope you all will do as well.