Mercedes Cooper is the director of programming for ARRAY, a company founded by filmmaker Ava DuVernay that is dedicated to amplifying independent films made by women and people of color globally. We asked Mercedes to recommend five storytellers—authors, artists, filmmakers, and more—this community should be following. Here are her picks.
Five to Follow: Mercedes Cooper's Picks
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UPILE CHISALA | @beingupileA Malawian storyteller based in Johannesburg, Chisala has published two books— soft magic and Nectar—but I follow her day-to-day work on Instagram, as do many members of my social circle. Her words are affirming and soothing—gentle reminders that my joy, sorrow, anger, and desires are valid. The beauty of her pieces is in sharing our present, everyday stories.
Elizabeth Colomba | @elizabethcolombaColomba uses 18th and 19th-century painting techniques to depict black and brown bodies during those times. Given that women of color are still too often erased or relegated to supporting roles in the mainstream retelling of history, it makes me happy to see women in my image inserted back into the narrative of those eras.
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released a documentary portrait about this filmmaker and activist, who is referred to as the grandmother of Indigenous cinema. Mita’s work in the ‘70s and ‘80s highlighted the injustices of Māori people—and the telling of those stories often put her in harm's way. I have a degree in film, and yet I first heard about Ms. Mita this year. This shouldn’t be the case. But, a wonderful reminder that there is always more to learn than what is taught.
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