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Audrey T. McCluskey
Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center

Last modified: Friday, April 10, 2009

Filmmaker Aishah Shahidah Simmons to speak April 15 at IU's Critical Issues Lecture Series

April 10, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Filmmaker Aishah Shahidah Simmons will be the next speaker at Indiana University's Critical Issues Lecture Series, a collaboration between IU's Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies and the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center.

Aishah Shahida Simmons

Aishah Shahida Simmons

Simmons will speak at 5:30 p.m. on April 15 in Ballantine Hall room 103 and will present her award-winning film, No! The Rape Documentary. Her talk will focus on the making of the film and its impact. The talk and screening are free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception.

Since its release in 2006, the film has ignited widespread activism against the crime of rape worldwide.

Simmons is an award-winning African-American feminist lesbian and independent documentary filmmaker, television and radio producer, writer, lecturer and activist based in Philadelphia. She recently was appointed artist-in-residence at the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture and a lecturer in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago.

In 1992, she founded AfroLez Productions, a multimedia arts company committed to using the moving image, the written and spoken word to address those issues which have a negative impact on marginalized and disenfranchised people.

For three years, she co-produced two monthly public television programs for a PBS affiliate in Philadelphia. Her internationally acclaimed short videos "Silence . . . Broken" and "In My Father's House" explored the issues of race, gender, homophobia, rape and misogyny.

An incest and rape survivor, she spent 11 years, including seven full-time, to produce write, and direct No! The Rape Documentary. This groundbreaking documentary explores the international reality of rape and other forms of sexual assault through the first-person testimonies, scholarship, spirituality, activism and cultural work of African-Americans. It also explores how rape is used as a weapon of homophobia.

In 2006, the film won the Audience Choice Award and a Juried Award at the San Diego Women Film Festival. Most recently, it won the juried Best Documentary Award at the 2008 India International Women's Film Festival. Alice Walker, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Color Purple, praised the film, "If the black community in the Americas and in the world would save itself it must complete the work No begins."

The Critical Issues Lecture Series originated in the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies and was designed to address pressing issues dealing with conditions in and circumstances faced by black communities in the nation and throughout the African Diaspora. Past lectures have focused on HIV/AIDS, the imprisonment of black men and the racial politics of the Hurricane Katrina recovery effort.

"This series questions the arbitrary distinction between the ivory tower and concerns of people in their everyday lives by emphasizing the issues and challenges they face. The focus is not only on the problem, but the series is also about finding solutions," said Audrey T. McCluskey, the program chair in AAADS and director of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center.