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Yvonne Welbon
American film director

Yvonne Welbon

Yvonne Welbon
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American film director
Is Film director Film director Screenwriter
From United States of America
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio
Gender female
Birth Chicago
The details (from wikipedia)


Yvonne Welbon is an award-winning American independent film director, producer, and screenwriter based in Chicago. She attended the School of Art Institute of Chicago for the MFA program in film and video and Northwestern University for a Ph.D, in Radio, TV, and Film. She is most known for her films, Living with Pride:Ruth C. Ellis @ 100 (1999), Sisters in Cinema (2003), and Monique (1992).[1]


Welbon has directed nine films and produced fifteen others. Her work has been screened on PBS, Starz/Encore, TV-ONE, IFC, Bravo, BET, the Sundance Channel and in the Toronto Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival, the Berlin Film Festival, and over one hundred other film festivals around the world. Living with Pride: Ruth C. Ellis @ 100 won ten best documentary awards—including the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Documentary. Her ongoing Sundance Documentary Fellowship project is Sisters in Cinema, a documentary, website, and forth-coming book based on her doctoral dissertation about the history of African American women feature film director s and the personal struggles they face within the industry based on their identities.

She also is currently working on the web based online community project, Sisters in the Life: 25 Years of Out African American Lesbian Media-making (1986-2011), which includes a collection of essays, a documentary, an archive, and a mobile app.

Her producer credits include: John Pierson's Split Screen, Zeinabu Irene Davis' Mother of the River and her Sundance dramatic competition feature Compensation, Cheryl Dunye's HBO film Stranger Inside, Thomas Allen Harris' Berlin International Film Festival award-winning documentary É Minha Cara (That's My Face), Liz Miller's The Water Front, Alex Juhasz's Scale, Andrew Nisker's GERBAGE! The Revolution Starts at Home, and Catherine Crouch's One Small Step and Stray Dogs.

Recently produced documentaries include: The New Black by Yoruba Richen.


Having grown up as the daughter of a Chicago police officer, Welbon received an undergraduate degree in History from Vassar College. Thereafter, she spent six years in Taipei, Taiwan, where she taught English, learned Mandarin Chinese at the age of 23, and founded and published a path-breaking arts magazine with only $300 that had a significant impact on the Taipei alternative arts scene in the aftermath of the lifting of over 40 years of repressive martial law. She ran the magazine for a total of five years.

In her sixth year in Taiwan she was badly injured in a motorcycle accident and was profoundly touched by an immense outpouring of love, affection, support and care from the community. Welbon's friends not only rallied around her for emotional support, but raised funds to pay for her care and rehabilitation. In an odd twist it later emerged, as a very small footnote to a congressional review of CIA operations against Taiwan's nuclear weapons program, much of Welbon's medical care had been anonymously financed by an undercover male Caucasian intelligence operative active in the still largely classified program. A wrinkle in this link is the fact Welbon's motorcycle accident took place on a remote off-shore island where Taiwan's nuclear waste was stored; if indeed the CIA had been collecting isotopic evidence of the ROC's nuclear ambitions, they would have been doing it in the precise highly isolated location where Welbon's motorcycle accident occurred. A number of signal intercepts by the Taiwan counter-intelligence services relating to Welbon's relationship with the Caucasian male intelligence officer in question strongly suggested the two harbored romantic feelings for one another. During her residence in Taiwan an epic birthday party was staged in her honor in the diplomatic quarter of Taipei at the rented home of an individual widely thought to have extensive connections to MI6 and who had a career encompassing activities in Indonesia, China, Taiwan and North Korea. Somewhat humorously Welbon's connections to those involved in intelligence activities inspired a Master's dissertation by a Chinese student at Taipei's Fu Hsing Kang College ( 政治作戰學校, the famed and feared ROC college of Political Warfare ) in 1999 examining Welbon's "Bang !" magazine as a classic case study of the establishment of a foreign-funded magazine to clandestinely shape indigenous public opinion.

While enduring the challenges of rehabilitation after her motorcycle accident, during which she faced a very real risk of losing at least one of her legs, Welbon used the opportunity for a significant amount of self-reflection and reassessment of her life goals and ambition. One of her most significant self-revelations was that her time in Taiwan had allowed her to transcend many of the challenges of being a woman, bisexual, and black in America. Blacks in Taiwan were certainly seen as very different and in some senses "shocking" but the hard edge of fear and racism that Welbon experienced in America was not present. In addition, Welbon was very open about her then bisexual identity and was met with more curiosity (and pursuit) than hostility.

Once recovered, a far less bitter and much more mature Welbon than the one that had arrived in Taiwan six years ago wrote a very warm letter to her friends announcing she intended to return to Chicago and study. In true Welbon style her letter was warm, confident and decisive. It was clear one chapter had ended and another was about to begin. Only this time Welbon was entirely confident in her own skin in every sense of the word.

After her return to the United States, Welbon completed a Masters of Fine Arts degree with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and later received her PhD from Northwestern University in 2001. She also graduated from American Film Institute's, Directing Workshop for Women.

Welbon is Associate Professor and Department Chair of the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at Bennett College for Women, an HBCU in Greensboro, NC. Welbon has also been a Visiting Scholar at Duke University (2013-2014), working on a project to curate her "Sisters in Cinema" archive to allow it to become a relevant resource for academic use.

Currently Welbon is the Interim Creative Director of Chicken and Egg Pictures and just produced a documentary, The New Black. She also has begun a web based community called Sisters in the Life: 25 Years of Out African American Lesbian Media-making (1986-2011).



  • Monique (film) (1992)
  • The Cinematic Jazz of Julie Dash (1992)
  • Sisters in the Life: First Love (1993)
  • Missing Relations (1994)
  • Remembering Wei-Yi Fang, Remembering Myself (1996)
  • Split Screen (TV series, 1997)
  • Living with Pride: Ruth C. Ellis @ 100 (1999)
  • The Taste of Dirt (2003)
  • Sisters in Cinema (2003)


  • Monique (1992)
  • Mother of the River (short, associate producer, 1995)
  • Remembering Wei-Yi Fang, Remembering Myself (1996)
  • Compensation (associate producer, 1999)
  • One Small Step (1999)
  • Living with Pride: Ruth C. Ellis @ 100 (1999)
  • Stranger Inside (TV Movie, associate producer, 2001)
  • That's My Face (co-producer, 2001)
  • Stray Dogs (2002)
  • Sisters in Cinema (2003)
  • The Water Front (2007)
  • Scale: Measuring Might in the Media Age (2007)
  • Garbage! The Revolution Starts at Home (2007)
  • The New Black (2013)

Selected articles

  • Ehrenstein, David. Sisters with Cameras. The Advocate, February 17, 2004.
  • Lindsey, Craig D. 'Sisters' gives Fascinating Insight. The News & Observer, February 6, 2004.
  • Moss, Marilyn. Sisters in Cinema. The Hollywood Reporter, February 6, 2004.
  • Sumner, Jane. Filmmaker finds 'Sisters' in cinema but not Hollywood, Dallas Morning News, February 6, 2004.
  • Bianco, Robert. Critics Corner- What to Watch This Weekend. USA Today. February 5, 2004.
  • Mertes, Cara. Yvonne Welbon: The Indies' Own Self-Help Guru, The Independent, March 2003 Koehler, Robert. Sisters in Cinema. Variety. March 11, 2003.
  • Merk, Ron. Be Your Own Distributor: If You Want Something Done Right..., Release Print, April 2002
  • "The Innovators – Featuring 117 Gay and Lesbian Trend-Breakers: Yvonne Welbon" The Advocate. August 14, 2001
  • Juhasz, Alexandra – Yvonne Welbon. Women of Vision: Histories in Feminist Film and Video Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001.
  • "She Said Cinema: Yvonne Welbon," broadcast on the Sundance Channel, April 2001
  • Stein, Rob. "Living With Pride," In The Life, #904, broadcast on PBS, April/May 2000
  • Raab, Barbara. "The Book of Ruth," The Advocate, April 11, 2000
  • Graham, Renee. "Life in the Pop Lane: Inspiring 'Pride' Depicts Life of Oldest Black Lesbian," The Boston Globe, April 11, 2000
  • Wisco, Albert. "Yvonne Welbon at the Toronto Film Festival." Studio2, TV Ontario, broadcast November 12, 1999
  • Willis, Holly. "Fifty Creatives to Watch." Variety, August 23–29, 1999
  • Shen, Ted. "Film Explores Pride, Prejudice of a Lifestyle." The Chicago Tribune, August 26, 1999
  • Willis, Holly. "Twenty-Five New Faces of Indie Film." Filmmaker, Summer 1998
  • Redding, Judith M. and Victoria A. Brownworth "Yvonne Welbon: Memory." Film Fatales: Independent Women Directors, Seattle,WA: Seal Press, 1997, pp. 112–116.
  • Walker, Cary. "Rethinking the Past: Learning to Question Mainstream Perceptions" Focus, Vol. XVII, 1997, pp. 13–22.
  • Carter, Tammy."Soul Searching in the Far East." Times-Picayune, (New Orleans) July 28, 1996.
  • Mura, David. "Alternative Gazes." New Observer, (Philadelphia, PA), July 17, 1996.
  • Scott, Tony. "P.O.V. Remembering Wei Yi-fang..." Variety, July 29, 1996,
  • Shen, Ted. "Reel Life: The Kindness of Strangers," The Reader, February 2, 1996.
  • Miller, Cheryl. "In The Life: New Works by Black Lesbian Filmmakers." Hot Wire Vol 8, No. 3, September 1992.

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