UCSD Social SciencesUCSD Social Sciences
May 23, 2000

Media Contact: Dolores Davies, 858.534.5994


The San Diego premiere of the award-winning film Compensation, directed by filmmaker Zeinabu irene Davis, a professor of communication at the University of California, San Diego, will be held June 2 at 7 p.m. at the San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts. Additional screenings will occur June 2 at 9:30 p.m., June 3 at 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., and June 4 at 12 noon and 2:30 p.m. Admission is $7.50 for adults, $6 for MOPA members, and $5 for students and seniors.

Compensation, which will be the first local independent film to be screened at MOPA’s new state-of-the-art Joan and Irwin Jacobs Theater, was one of only 16 films out of more than 900 included in dramatic competition at the Sundance Film Festival this year. Davis’ film has received rave reviews and numerous awards, including the Reel Black Outstanding Film Award at the Toronto Film Festival and the Gordon Parks Award for best director at the Independent Feature Market in New York. The film has also been nominated for Best First Feature by the Independent Spirit Awards in Los Angeles.

Davis and screenwriter Marc Arthur Chéry will be present at the premiere screening to introduce the film and discuss the work with the audience. Michelle Banks, the film’s lead actress, will also be present for some of the screenings.

"Compensation" is thought to be the first film to feature a Black Deaf person (Michelle Banks) as the lead character. The dialogue in the film alternates between American Sign Language (ASL) and English, thus subtitles are essential for both hearing and Deaf audiences. Davis’ elegant black and white feature combines early 1900’s photographs, two stories of romance (past and present), silent film conventions, and an uncanny insight into African-American and deaf culture.

Inspired by a 1906 poem from African American writer Paul Laurence Dunbar, "Compensation" intertwines two bittersweet love stories between two couples respectively placed at the beginning and the end of the 20th century. Both couples are played by Banks, a New York-based actress and the Chicago-based John Earl Jelks. The film’s soundtrack features the talents of critically acclaimed ragtime composer Reginald B. Robinson and the African percussive master Atiba Y. Jali. The film also includes original choreography by acclaimed Deaf dancer Christopher Smith.

Davis, a film producer and director who has made over seven films including the award-winning Mother of the River, A Powerful Thang, and Cycles, teaches classes on media production and theory at UCSD.

The film’s premiere screening is co-sponsored by the UCSD Department of Communication, the UCSD Cross-Cultural Center, and the UCSD Women’s Center. For more information about the screening or Davis’s films, please contact Rosalie Escobar, UCSD Department of Communication, at 858.534-6328 or visit Professor Davis’ Wimmin With a Mission Productions web site at www.wwamp.com