Michelle Materre, a New School professor whose accomplishments span more than thirty years in media and film, died of cancer at White Plains Hospital on March 11, according to a Facebook post by The black documentary collective.
From 1992 to 2001, Materre and his co-founded motion picture distribution and marketing company, KJM3 Entertainment Group, Inc., directly managed the release of 23 independent films, including Julie Dash’s “Daughters of the Dust,” which was listed at the Library of Congress National Library of Film in 2004. Materre served on the boards groups such as New York Women in Film and Television, Women Make Movies and International Youth Leadership Institution.
In addition, Materre organized speak creatively, a film series dedicated to women filmmakers and people of color. Her most noted series were “Tell It Like It Is: Black Independents in New York: 1968-1986” and “One Way or Another: Black Women’s Cinema, 1970-1991”, the latter being listed in the new yorker as “The Most Important Directory Series of 2017.”
“During this period, filmmakers generally produced completely independently, without the limited support and resources of institutions and granting agencies – in fact, work was produced ‘one way or another,’” wrote mother in Black camera: an international film journal in 2019. “Yet this work lives on and remains relevant today, fulfilling the Creatively Speaking film series’ mission to capture the often-buried voices, harsh realities, and boundless creativity of historically marginalized and underrepresented filmmakers of color. .”
Since 2000, Materre has served as associate professor of media and film studies at The New School, later becoming Director of the Media Management Program, Director of Creative Strategies at the Institute for Race, Power, and Political Economy, and Director of the Bachelor’s Degree Program for Adults and Transfer Students. She received the “Distinguished University Teaching Award” from The New School in 2005.
Materre’s courses related to his life’s work of film history and criticism. She has taught courses such as Distribution of films and new media and Race, ethnicity, class in the media as recently as this semester.
“Professor Michelle Materre embodied the meaning of teaching,” Terri Bowles, who co-taught Race, Ethnicity, Class in Media with Materre, said in an email to The free press of the new school. “She taught in a way that was both grand and intimate; it enlightened and nourished. She radiated a love of media and film, immersing her students, colleagues and friends in the vernaculars of the image, its countless presentations and its critical importance.
Bowles and Vladan Nikolic, dean of the School of Media Studies and Materre colleague for 20 years, highlighted Materre’s commitment to women and students of color.
“A generous and dear friend, a beloved teacher, a cherished colleague and a passionate champion of important films by and about women and people of color; Michelle was all of that and more,” Nikolic said in an email to Free press. “She was cheerful, outspoken, direct and could put everyone at ease instantly. Words are limited in their ability to capture all that has made Michelle so loved by so many of her students and peers. His absence will be deeply felt, but his immense impact and legacy will live and stay with us, along with the memories, for as long as we are here.
In an email to the New School community this afternoon, the Executive Dean of Public Engagement Schools, Mary Watson, spoke about the impact Materre has had on those she knows.
“She was known for her generous and exuberant presence, bringing joy to everything she did,” Watson said. “A trusted colleague and friend, she could be counted on to be there when needed and to know what to do and say.”
Community members can share memories of Materre on a virtual memory card set up by the School of Media Studies. This story will be updated with additional reflections from faculty and students.