Tambay Obenson announces plea to filmmakers to save Shadow and Act

by Jamie Walker

Los Angeles – Tambay Obenson, founder of Shadow and Act, a collective of writers, filmmakers, film critics and film enthusiasts, all interested in discussing primarily film and filmmakers of the African Diaspora, recently announced a plea to save his online film collective, which will be discontinued at the end of the month if it is not saved by other filmmakers and supporters. IndieWire, which hosts the Shadow and Act blog, was acquired by Penske Media in January; however, as Tambay Obenson, who founded the site in 2009, revealed, “None of the individual blogs are part of the package.”

Filmmaker and critic Tambay Obenson was a panelist on the Tribeca Talks Industry Panel, “Look Who’s Talking,” during the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, on April 19, 2013 in New York City. – Photo: Slaven Vlasic
Filmmaker and critic Tambay Obenson was a panelist on the Tribeca Talks Industry Panel, “Look Who’s Talking,” during the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, on April 19, 2013 in New York City. – Photo: Slaven Vlasic

Obenson writes: “My initial long term vision for S&A was to build a global brand – a massive online space where readers anywhere in the world could read, watch and hear about Black cinema wherever it was happening. It would comprehensively cover Black filmmaking and filmmakers globally, with writers who are informed and are experts in cinema by and about people of African descent in whatever country they live in, contributing with some regularity to the website.”

As time passed, Obenson envisioned the site evolving “beyond the usual news, interviews, reviews, essays, think pieces etc., adding new features, like original video, scripted and otherwise, on-the-ground reporting globally, podcasts and even eventually financing and producing its own films – the kind of work that we often champion on this blog, but that we are not getting enough of, or at all, from the dominant Hollywood studio system that has demonstrated it isn’t willing to take risks when it comes to content produced by and about people of color – although maybe that’s starting to change somewhat.”

This interactive site has championed actors and filmmakers of the African diaspora, including but certainly not limited to LA Rebellion filmmakers and more recent filmmakers like Ava DuVernay, Bradford Young, Ryan Coogler and more, placing their narratives in the center of mainstream Hollywood. Shadow and Act, according to Obenson, is truly a place “where creatives of African descent can network and learn, and so much more – all of it happening on a global scale.”

This interactive site has championed actors and filmmakers of the African diaspora placing their narratives in the center of mainstream Hollywood.

Shadow and Act has been extremely valuable – not just to Black cinema but to WORLD cinema. It has given voice, perspective and a unique lens on cinema throughout the African diaspora, which is often excluded, undervalued and/or marginalized by the mainstream. More importantly, it has documented new and established independent Black filmmakers as well as producers, directors, media and change makers.

We simply will not abandon this precious resource that has been vital to ALL filmmakers – regardless of gender, race, background or orientation. It is essential to the world of independent film and a valuable resource for agents, acquisition directors and distributors.

Shadow and Act has given voice, perspective and a unique lens on cinema throughout the African diaspora, which is often excluded, undervalued and/or marginalized by the mainstream.

Obenson states, “What is of most importance to me right now is connecting with professionals who work in areas of fundraising, ad sales, grant and sponsorship writing.”

Like many filmmakers who understand the overwhelming value of Shadow and Act to the film community, we pledge to help and support Obenson in any capacity. We urge other filmmakers to support his efforts to keep Shadow and Act up and running. Like many filmmakers, I remain grateful for Shadow and Act, which has chronicled my own film projects and the work of other filmmakers.

To contact Tambay Obenson, email obensont@gmail.com. To read more about Shadow and Act, as well as Tambay’s original post outlining his request for financiers, grant writers and more, click HERE.

We thank him for keeping us updated, attuned and alert to Shadow and Act’s future direction.

Jamie Walker is a producer, writer-director and lecturer on film studies. As a Howard University grad and student in the MFA Program in TV and Film Production at the University of the Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, Walker most recently co-produced “Justice for Flint” and “MLK Now” for Ryan Coogler’s Blackout for Human Rights Film Collective. She spent over 15 years as a freelance journalist and is the screenwriter of a biopic on Oscar Micheaux, which won the Sundance Film Festival Pitching Contest. She can be reached through her website, www.jdwalker.org.