Interview: Roger Ross Williams, Academy Award-winning Director (“Music By Prudence”)

January 24, 2011 § 2 Comments

“It has totally changed my life,” says filmmaker Roger Ross Williams, director of the Oscar-winning documentary Music By Prudence. Afrofusion caught up with him at the posh B. Smith’s restaurant in Washington, DC a few days ago. Williams became the first black film director to win an Academy Award when Music By Prudence took the honors for Best Documentary Short at the 2010 Oscars. But Williams is not even talking about the Oscar that his film won, nor the several other accolades that followed the release of this remarkable documentary. It is a true testament to the power of independent documentary filmmaking that the effects of his initial encounter with a 21-year-old young woman with a punishing disability named Prudence Mabhena have reached far deeper than he ever could have imagined. How rare is it for an indie

Roger Ross Williams poses with Riziki

filmmaker with a story to tell, a story from a part of the world that is generally ignored, to be able to take that story all the way to one of the industry’s most prestigious stages? Even more meaningful for Williams is what the opportunity to tell such a story has done for the life of Prudence, and for other people with disabilities in all of Zimbabwe. What Roger Ross Williams was truly unprepared for, however, was how his own life would be affected. “It refocused my attitude and my energy,” he says. “She taught me valuable lessons, and I have learned and grown so much because of this film and because I know her.” Afrofusion would like to thank Roger Ross Williams for granting us this great interview, and B. Smith’s Restaurant for providing the space! If you haven’t seen Music By Prudence yet, you can get the DVD; it is now available on their website, and also at Amazon. It’s packed with lots of extra footage and features, but the documentary itself is the truth! There is also an outreach site, where you can join with the UN, Human Rights Watch, UNICEF, and the international disability community to take action. The full interview with Academy Award winning director Roger Ross Williams will be available very soon on Bless…

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