By Y. Marie Johnson
The Black independent film community has lost a veteran. Filmmaker Jamaa Fanaka passed away in Los Angeles this week at the age of 69. Mr. Fanaka is best known for his popular PENITENTARY trilogy, as well as the seminal film EMMA MAE.
Fanaka was part of a film movement birthed at UCLA in the late 1960's known as LA Rebellion, which also included filmmakers Haile Gerima, Julie Dash, Charles Burnett, Zeinabu Irene Davis.
Ms. Davis posted, "Mourning the loss of my cinematic brother, Jamaa Fanaka who passed away yesterday. He is one of the LA Rebellion filmmakers - the only student to ever have made 3 feature films at UCLA and to also make money from them. He was a good soul, he will be missed, but earns his "secular immortality" with his films and his fight for better representation of Black directors with the DGA. Ashe, Jamaa!"
For those unfamiliar with the work of Mr. Fanaka, we have assembled a starter kit including Mr. Fanaka's filmography, film clips, select articles and interviews. We hope that you'll take a moment to introduce yourself to his work.
Jamaa Fanaka at Film and Digital Master Workshop
Trailer for "Penitentary"
Club scene from "Penitentary II"
Scene from "Welcome Home, Brother Charles"
- A Day in the Life of Willie Faust, or Death on the Installment Plan (short, 1972)
- Welcome Home, Brother Charles (1975)
- Emma Mae (1976)
- Penitentiary (1979)
- Penitentiary II (1982)
- Penitentiary III (1987)
- Street Wars (1992)
San Francisco Bay Guardian | The Cult of Fanaka
Archival Spaces | Forming History Through the Archive
UCLA Cinema Archives | L.A. Rebellion: Jamaa Fanaka
Nerdtorious.com | Welcome Home, Brother: Jamaa Fanaka Interview