Chatham News

Author Alice Walker to speak at premiere of Pittsburgh filmmaker’s new film

PITTSBURGH: On Thursday, October 27, Pulitzer Prize winning author, Alice Walker, will be in Pittsburgh to speak at the premiere of a film which she narrated.  The film, “Yemanja: Wisdom from the African Heart of Brazil,” is by Pittsburgh Filmmaker Donna Roberts and will be screened as part of the Just Films series, sponsored by the Chatham University Women’s Institute, New Voices Pittsburgh, the Women and Girls Foundation, and the Women’s Law Project.

Ms. Walker will speak on a panel following the screening in the Campbell Memorial Chapel on Chatham University’s Shadyside campus at 6:30 p.m. Overflow seating is in the Eddy Theater. The event is free and open to the public with registration at

Lead support for this event is generously provided by Eden Hall Foundation.

About the Film
Produced, directed and co-written by Pittsburgh filmmaker, Donna Roberts, this fascinating new film tells stories of the Afro-Indigenous culture of Candomblé – a tradition based on ancient African rituals and celebrations honoring the natural world, ancestors and spiritual energies known as Orixás. With wisdom the world desperately needs today, Candomblé is thriving in contemporary Brazil. Candomblé evolved from the ways of enslaved Africans forced to Brazil, the last country to abolish slavery. Women are at the apex of Candomblé leadership. The film’s story is told through the voices of four elder women leaders, the eldest is 109. Yemanjá is a story of universal wisdom and timeless values…an inspiring tale of outstanding women of color transforming lives and communities with their leadership, vision, faith and activism.

In conjunction with this screening, Chatham University’s Art Gallery is presenting a photography and paper art exhibit, “Goddesses of Nature,” shot on location by Yemanja videographer and still photographer Gerald Lee Hoffman. The exhibit includes handmade paper art by local youth, a product of a summer workshop facilitated by Hoffman and Mr. Keith Murphy of McKeesport Healthy Village Learning Institute community center.

About the Panel
Following the screening of the film, a panel of special guests will speak and take questions from the audience:

Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and narrator of film.
Dr. Rachel Elizabeth Harding, Associate Professor of Indigenous Spiritual Traditions, University of Colorado Denver.
Donna C. Roberts, producer, director and co-writer.
• Moderator: Dr. Huberta Jackson-Lowman, Associate Professor, Psychology, Florida A & M University.

More About Alice Walker
Alice Walker is an internationally celebrated writer, poet and activist whose books include seven novels, four collections of short stories, four children’s books, and volumes of essays and poetry. She won the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction in 1983 and the National Book Award for The Color Purple, which was made into a critically acclaimed movie directed by Steven Spielberg and a Broadway musical (now playing again and winner of this year’s Tony Award for Best Musical revival).

Walker has written many bestsellers; among them, The Temple of My Familiar (a wisdom tale that originates in prehistory); By The Light of My Father’s Smile (sexuality and forgiveness as paths of healing); Possessing the Secret of Joy (1992), which explores the effects of female genital mutilation on one woman’s psyche as well as her body (she becomes a patient of a fictional Carl Jung). This novel led to the 1993 book and documentary film Warrior Marks: Female Genital Mutilation and the Sexual Blinding of Women, both collaborations with British-Indian filmmaker Pratibha Parmar, and We are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For: Inner Light in a Time of Darkness. Her most recent books are: The Cushion in the Road: Meditation and Wandering as the Whole World Awakens to Being in Harm’s Way; and The World Will Follow Joy: Turning Madness into Flowers, poems.

Walker coined the term “womanism” her 1983 publication, In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose, which examines the creative inheritance of one’s maternal line, and how our own contributions, whether political, activist, or poetic connect on this foundation. Her work has been translated into more than two dozen languages, and her books have sold more than fifteen million copies. She was honored as one of the inaugural inductees into the California Hall of Fame and most recently the Mahmoud Darwish Literary Prize for Fiction 2016. Walker has been an activist all of her adult life, and believes that learning to extend the range of our compassion is activity and work available to all.

About Just Films
Just Films is a collaboration of four organizations committed to women, girls, gender equity, and social justice: the Chatham University Women’s Institute, New Voices Pittsburgh, the Women and Girls Foundation, and the Women’s Law Project. Just Films believes in the power of film to promote conversations about social, political, and economic change, and also in engaging the community broadly and deeply in dialogue around the pursuit of equality together.

Ten documentaries for this film series were chosen that cover a wide range of issues – from immigration to human trafficking, trans families, paid leave, and more. Many of these films were made by women, and most will be showing in Pittsburgh for the first time. Visit to learn more.

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