Patricia Lessane is the Executive Director of The College of Charleston’s Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, a post she has held since 2010. She is an affiliate faculty member in Sociology and Anthropology, Women’s and Gender Studies, and African American Studies. Lessane began her teaching career at Chicago State University in the English department in 1996. She earned her doctorate in Cultural Anthropology in 2005. She was a faculty member at Roosevelt University from 2008-2010. She is co-editing, We Hold These Memories Inside of We: Examining Daughters of the Dust and the Black Arts Aesthetic of Julie Dash, currently under review by University of South Carolina Press.
Lessane began her museum career at The Field Museum as a graduate researcher in the Center for Cultural Understanding and Change, before working as the community liaison for the “Wrapped In Pride” exhibition. She was the Project Administrator for the museum’s Diversity Project until 2006. From 2008-2010, Lessane worked as a consultant on the Museum of Science and Industry’s annual “Black Creativity” exhibition and programs, where she developed and facilitated lectures, workshops, and panel discussions around African Americans in film, medicine, and the green energy movement. Lessane is currently an executive board member of Collegium of African American Research (CAAR), and a board member of the Coastal Conservation League. In 2013, she was named one of Charlie Magazine’s “50 Most Progressive People in Charleston.”
Twenty-four years ago, filmmaker Julie Dash broke through racial and gender boundaries with her Sundance award-winning Daughters of the Dust (Best Cinematography), and she became the first African American woman to have a wide and general release of her first feature film. In 2004, The Library of Congress placed Daughters of the Dust in the National Film Registry, it joins a select group of American films being preserved and protected as national treasures. Dash has since written and directed for movies for CBS, BET, ENCORE STARZ, SHOWTIME and HBO. Her work as a Film Director includes music videos, industrials, documentary, and PSA’s. Dash’s work includes Theme Park and Museum Design for Disney’s Imagineering, and The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center’s Brothers of the Borderland, a film she directed for its environmental theater. Her film work has also been featured in retrospectives across the globe; and in 2013 she held the Bob Allison (Allesee) Endowed Chair in Media at Wayne State University. Her most recent film retrospectives include the Scribe Center in Philadelphia, Femme des Films in Paris, Women Make Waves in Taiwan, the L.A. Rebellion Retrospective, organized by the UCLA Film and Television Archives, which has toured North America in 2012-13; and the 2013, First Women’s International Film Festival in Beijing, China and Hong Kong.
Watanabe-Batton has over fifteen years of media and entertainment experience working across various platforms, including film, television, new media, commercials and music videos. Watanabe-Batton began her career in feature film development at Warner Brothers, working for Australian director Peter Weir on the film Fearless. She has produced short films including, The Killers andBajodel Perro, and has been an associate producer on independent features including Ripe and The Book of Love. Watanabe-Battan also worked onDemocracy in South Africa, a feature documentary about Nelson Mandela, and produced the documentary Cutting Edge for HBO, as well as Insider Trading With Gabrielle Reece. Watanabe-Batton excels in project management skills, including budgeting, contract negotiation, creative collaboration, celebrity partnerships, and international productions. She is Vice Chair of the Producers Guild of America East (PGA), and Chair of PGA’s Diversity Committee.
Juanita Anderson is a veteran producer and documentary filmmaker whose work has centered on the African American experience, the arts, and social issues that give voice to diverse perspectives in the Americas. As an executive producer, Anderson has launched more than twenty-five station and independent projects into the national PBS schedule and has guided the work of nearly forty independent producers across the nation. In addition to seven regional Emmys for her work in local public television, Anderson’s work has garnered numerous national awards including the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award and a DuPont Columbia Silver Baton for excellence in broadcast journalism. Her exhibition credits include producer/director of 18th and Vine a People’s Journey,on permanent exhibition on permanent exhibition at the Horace M. Peterson Visitors Center of the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, Missouri; and executive producer and segment director of the Favorite Poem Video Anthology, which was originally commissioned for the Bicentennial of the Library of Congress. Anderson is currently the Director of Film and Digital Initiatives for the Department of Communication at Wayne State University and managing producer/fiscal officer for the Michigan Creative Film Alliance.
David Claessen, Director of Photography/Cinematographer
David Claessen has shot documentary films for Dutch, French, and British Television, and has worked as a Camera Operator under French Cameramen Henri Alekan and Sacha Vierny. In 1983, Claessen became a Feature Film Director of Photography and has worked on several major feature film projects includingDiary of a Mad Black Housewife, Bring It On: Fight to The Finish, Make It Happen, and Back To Nine. He won the Kodak Achievement Award for Best Cinematography for his work on Marc Chiat’s Every Dog Has It’s Day. Claessen also completed several films with Julie Dash, including Brothers of The Borderland, Love Song and The Rosa Parks Story.
Mary Battle, PhD – Scholarly Consultant
Mary Battle is the Public Historian at the Avery Research Center. She received her PhD in Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts from Emory University in 2013. Battle has professional experience museums, including the Smithsonian Institution. Her research interests include African American history and culture in the South Carolina Lowcountry, public history, digital humanities, and oral history.
Floyd Webb – Digital Media Consultant
Floyd Webb’s background includes global work in cinema, photojournalism, publishing and advertising. All these experiences contribute to his convergent skills as a producer, multimedia specialist,designer and consultant for the Internet.
His past work includes; producer for Paris-based Effervescence Production’s Future Mag series for France Arté; consultant for the THE MARCH, director John Akomfrah’s 50 Anniversary March on Washington produced by Robert Redford, March 2013; local producer of the American Masters film, The World of Nat King Cole (2006); associate producer of the award-winning Julie Dash Film, Daughters of the Dust (US 1992); 3D animation producer for Amen Ra Studios; writer/director/producer of music videos, short documentaries, and animations projects; designer of mobile applications and augmented reality project development.