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117: A Conversation With host Floyd Marshall Jr. – EPS 117 – Mike Dennis and the Fight for Black Film Restoration and Empowerment

In a recent podcast interview titled "On A Mission: Mike Dennis and the Fight for Black Film Restoration and Empowerment," Michael J. Dennis, also known as Mike D or Mike Dee of Reelblack, shared insights into his journey as a filmmaker, educator, and curator in Philadelphia. With a deep passion for black film and empowering the black community, Dennis has dedicated his career to educating, entertaining, enlightening, and empowering through film.

Dennis, the founder of Reelblack Inc., has been actively involved in the film industry for over two decades. His work includes hosting monthly film screenings of black films, contributing to the launch of Ava Duvernay's ARRAY, and curating a diverse range of content on his YouTube channel. Over the years, Dennis has interviewed various independent and Hollywood personalities, most notably the late Dick Gregory. He has also worked with industry giants such as Bill Cosby, Oprah Winfrey, and Spike Lee.

One of Dennis' notable achievements includes serving as the executive producer on the restoration of Sam Firstenberg's 1989 action film, "Riverbend," which starred Steve James and Margaret Avery. The film had its world premiere at the Denton Black Film Festival, showcasing Dennis' commitment to preserving black cinema and telling authentic stories.

During the podcast interview with host Floyd Marshall, Dennis shared his early beginnings in the film industry, highlighting his education at New York University and the American Film Institute. His journey led him to work on projects like "Beloved" and collaborate with renowned filmmakers like M. Night Shyamalan. Inspired by the potential of Philadelphia's burgeoning film scene, Dennis believed in the city's ability to carve out its unique identity in the industry.

Driven by a desire to showcase independent black cinema, Dennis started a monthly screening series in Philadelphia, introducing audiences to the works of emerging black filmmakers. Through Reelblack, he aimed to create a platform for underrepresented voices and provide opportunities for filmmakers of color to share their stories.

Throughout the conversation, Dennis emphasized the importance of representation and empowerment in film. He highlighted the need for diverse voices in storytelling and the impact of digital technology in democratizing the filmmaking process. By championing black film restoration and empowerment, Dennis continues to be a leading figure in the industry, inspiring others to pursue their creative endeavors.

As a filmmaker, educator, and curator, Michael J. Dennis has made significant contributions to the world of black cinema. His dedication to preserving black stories and empowering filmmakers of color serves as a beacon of hope for the future of the industry. Through Reelblack, Dennis remains committed to educating, entertaining, and empowering audiences, one film at a time.


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