Filmmakers and Producers

Charlene Gilbert

Charlene Gilbert is a full professor in the University of Toledo’s Women’s and Gender Studies program and a professor in the Theater and Film department. Gilbert began her career as a public advocate in 1987 working on behalf of homeless women and families. She was co-chair of Women for Economic Justice based in Boston, a community organizer and former rape crisis counselor. For the past 16 years Gilbert has been an independent documentary filmmaker and university scholar. She is a national producer for public television and her current film project is a documentary on bioethics and the HeLa Cells.

As an independent documentary filmmaker, Charlene Gilbert has produced two award-winning feature documentaries and several short non-fiction films. Her first feature documentary film, HOMECOMING, SOMETIMES I AM HAUNTED BY MEMORIES OF RED DIRT AND CLAY, premiered nationally on PBS and won several national awards including the NBPC (1999) and Paul Robeson (2000) Awards for Best Documentary. Ms. Gilbert also co-authored, with Quinn Eli, a companion book to the film entitled HOMECOMING: THE STORY OF AFRICAN AMERICAN FARMERS published by Beacon Press. Her documentary, CHILDREN WILL LISTEN premiered at the 2004 AFI Silverdocs Documentary Festival and had its national primetime PBS broadcast premiere in fall 2004. Her films and videos have been screened in numerous international and national festivals including: The Women in the Director’s Chair Festival, the Chicago International Television Festival, FESPACO, the Athens International Film and Video Festival and the Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema.

Gilbert is also the recipient of several awards and fellowships including the Rockefeller Media Fellowship, Harvard University’s Radcliffe Fellowship, and the Kellogg National Leadership Fellowship award.

Gilbert received her bachelor’s degree from Yale University and her Master of Fine Arts degree from Temple University.


Ina Mae Best
Charlene Gilbert
1993, 25 min., Color
A documentary portrait of a courageous African American woman, who after 18 years working at a textile factory in Goldsboro, North Carolina, became a passionate and outspoken leader in a struggle to unionize her plant. As a result of her efforts she was fired, but despite losing her job she continue...

The Kitchen Blues
Charlene Gilbert
1994, 14 min., BW, US
An intimate portrait of an everyday moment, focusing on a young girl getting her hair braided. It opens with a photograph of the filmmaker at age 5 and her voice describing her own childhood hair memories. Archival footage of African American women "doing" their hair is layered over the image of the...

This is My House
Charlene Gilbert
1995, 6 min., Color, US
This experimental short humorously and powerfully explores women's body imagery. A Black woman's body is defined and re-defined in her own voice, exploring the notions of beauty, power, gender, ownership and empowerment....

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