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I Was Born a Back Woman - Production Notes

    Director: Maria Luisa (Maisa) Mendonša
    Cinematographer, editor: Vicente Franco
    Executive Producer: Rick Tejada-Flores
    Producer, writer, still photographer: Kit Miller
    Consultants: Medea Benjamin, Jurema Werneck, Evelyn C. White

    From Kit Miller

    I Was Born a Black Woman was based on the acclaimed biography, "Benedita da Silva: An Afro-Brazilian Woman's Story of Politics and Love," written by Benedita da Silva, Maisa Mendonša (co-director of the film) and Medea Benjamin and produced by Global Exchange Following the success of the book in schools and with readers around the world, Global Exchange decided to produce the film. In addition to being about the life of Benedita da Silva, I Was Born a Black Woman was conceived as a piece on race in Brazil. Funding was raised quickly to send the film crew to Brazil to film Carnival 1998, where Benedita, Nelson Mandela, Pele and Martin Luther King were being honored by a 3,000 member samba school in a tribute to African roots. During three weeks in Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia the crew (Maisa Mendonša, Vicente Franco and Kit Miller) filmed Carnival and Benedita at home in the favela, and interviewed many of her colleagues, family and friends. We also filmed conditions in the favelas and community organizing dealing with education, health and childcare and youth needs.

    Following the filming in Brazil we edited the film for two years, raising money primarily from individuals and from a few smaller foundation grants. Global Exchange heavily subsidized the project. In the spring of 2000 we received a grant from the National Black Programming Consortium and we are now editing I Was Born a Black Woman for a national PBS airing.


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