Michelle Materre, film historian and leader of women in independent film, dies at 67

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The community of black and independent filmmakers mourns the loss of Michelle Materrea champion of the independent film industry who died of cancer last month at the age of 67.

Materre died at a hospital in White Plains, New York, on March 11, a Facebook post by The Black Documentary Collective Lily.


The acclaimed film historian was well known and respected for her unwavering dedication to ensuring diverse stories are told through film.

His three decades of work impacted future generations of independent filmmakers and helped bring award-winning films to life. While running his film distribution and marketing company, KJM3 Entertainment Group Inc., from 1990 to 2001, Materre directly managed the release of 23 independent films, such as Noted by The free press of the new school.

Some of the projects to his credit include Chisholm ’72: not bought and without bosses by Shola Lynch, Channel Thirteen/WNET national series The rise and fall of Jim Crowand black women in medicine by Crystal Emery. Materre also curated Creatively Speaking, a film series dedicated to women filmmakers and people of color.

“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,’” explained 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 oft-buried voices, harsh realities, and boundless creativity of historically marginalized and underrepresented filmmakers of color.”

The New School professor leaves behind a community of students and supporters celebrating her life by remembering all that she brought to the independent film community.

“Michelle will be remembered as a tireless advocate and champion of films by and about women and people of color, a beloved teacher, an engaged university citizen and a cherished colleague,” the New School wrote in a lengthy communicated.

Emmy and Peabody award-winning director Neema Barnettethe first black woman to lead a network sitcom (What happens now!), wrote a Facebook tribute to Materre, honoring her for being a pioneer of diversity in the field.

“After a friendship that spanned over 35 years, I said goodbye to my sister friend Michelle Materre. A force to be reckoned with, Michelle’s love of third world cinema and her Creatively Speaking have helped hundreds of visionary young people make their films. A New School staple, Michelle has taught and mentored hundreds of others,” Barnette wrote.

“There will be celebrations of Michelle’s life and we will ensure that her work continues. Michelle was a true warrior queen who fought battles with bravery and hope. Rest in power Michelle, because you know how much you were loved.

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