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Member Spotlight: The Black Association of Documentary Filmmakers West

By Andrea Granera

The wide angle image shows an group of more than 100 people are sitting facing Stanley Nelson who has a microphone in hand is presenting with light spotlighting him.

The Black Association of Documentary Filmmakers West (BADWest) was formed in July of 2003 by iconic filmmaker St. Clair Bourne as a collective of documentary filmmakers of African descent working and residing on the West Coast. In 2004, BADWest hosted its first major event, a seminar on grants and proposal writing conducted by ITVS, held at Raleigh Studios in Los Angeles. Since its inception we have continually held monthly pre to post workshops providing industry speakers, information on resources for production, funding sources, festivals, and distribution; as well as screening works-in-progress and completed docs for feedback and discussion.

2007, unexpectedly became a watershed for the organization, for December marked the sudden, untimely death of our cofounder St. Clair Bourne. In 2020, BADWest proudly announced its first-ever award recipient – acclaimed filmmaker Stanley Nelson -- as the recipient of the St. Clair Bourne Vanguard Award for his body of work and contributions to documentary filmmaking. As we strive to continue the goals of our mission, we are proud to further the legacy of St. Clair Bourne by living up to our commitment to assist documentarians, and increase the impact of documentary filmmaking within our community. (Information provided to IDA by BADWest.)


Please tell us a little about yourself and your profession or passion.

I’m Joyce Guy, along with Tiffany Judkins and Joyce Lee, I’m one of the co-chairs of BADWest. By profession, I’m an actor who wanted to direct narrative films. In the summer of 2003, when St. Clair made the call to action to the Black documentary film community to gather at the Writer’s Guild on Fairfax, I felt compelled to attend that meeting. At the time, I began work on a short documentary film that in a sense gladly fell into my arms. It was my first film. I desperately needed help; I was floundering. By attending the meeting, I met St. Clair, a collective of Black documentary filmmakers was formed, and I found a strong support system assisting me and sharing resources along the way toward the completion of the film. As a Black documentary filmmaker, BADWest became that safe space; and it still is. I later became treasurer of the organization, then a co-chair. I’m enthusiastically proud to be part of the documentary film community.    


DAY OF BLACK DOCS is coming up! Congratulations! Can you tell us about the history of the Day of Black Docs?

BADWest began DAY OF BLACK DOCS in 2006, a celebration of the Black documentary and its filmmakers, at the American Film Institute. The event presented the West coast premiere of two critically acclaimed documentaries: Kevin Willmott’s CSA: Confederate States of America, and Michele Stephenson’s Faces of Change, as well as Yoruba Richen’s Promised Land and Mario Van Peebles’ Poetic License. BADWest also served as co-host to a screening of Mario Van Peebles’ documentary at the California African American Museum, where we went on to produce DAY OF BLACK DOCS TAKE TWO: “Celebrating Gordon Parks and His Legacy”, acknowledging the legendary artist, and including a special screening of works by BADWest members. Our DAY OF BLACK DOCS is now our signature annual event where we have showcased numerous exemplary and award-winning films. The event was held virtually for two years during the COVID-19 epidemic. The event is now back in person at the American Film Institute (AFI). 

For DAY OF BLACK DOCS 2023, we have invited a powerful selection of both short and feature-length documentaries to showcase this year–including a bizarre and complex story about the ‘racist trees’ of Palm Springs (RACIST TREES); an investigation of the complexities of the US parole process (SECOND SHOT); a career retrospective of pioneering Black model Bethann Hardison (INVISIBLE BEAUTY); and a heartwarming story of the friendship between two women training for the National Senior Games (TEAM DREAM). DAY OF BLACK DOCS is sponsored by the International Documentary Association (IDA), California Association of African-American Superintendents and Administrators (CAAASA) and Film Independent. 


Is there a specific panel that you are looking forward to for this year’s Day of Black Doc?

One of the great highlights of DAY OF BLACK DOCS are the Q&A’s with the filmmakers. After each film, there’s always a lively discussion with the audience without fail. This year the moderator for the event is Tim Cogshell. Tim is a veteran film critic and journalist with more than 30 years of experience working for broadcast, print, Internet and digital media. 2022, Tim moderated the virtual DAY OF BLACK DOCS with such an incredibly lively knowledgeable touch. I’m quite sure he'll do the same in-person. Since it’s a local complex story and I visited Palm Springs for the first time a few months ago, I look forward to the panel of filmmakers from the film RACIST TREES.


Lastly, is there anything you would like to share with our members?

BADWest is a fiscally sponsored (Fulcrum Arts) membership organization whose mission is to champion and further advance the art of Black documentary filmmakers across the Diaspora.  Our members are diverse in experience, and range from recent film-school grads to experienced documentary filmmakers with award-winning features produced for major broadcast outlets. While BAD West is a Southern California-based organization, focusing primarily on the issues and concerns relevant to Southern California documentary filmmakers, there is no geographical limitation on membership.

BADWest is living up to the commitment of assisting documentarians in developing stories and increasing the impact of documentary filmmaking within the African American community and beyond. On a national landscape, BADWest aims to create a home for an audience that hungers for diaspora stories about our history, people, and events told primarily by African Americans. For more information about BADWest, please visit our website at  And, we’d like to see you at the DAY OF BLACK DOCS event on Saturday, May 13, 2023. 

For more information about the event, tickets, the films, and filmmakers please visit, BADWest would like to thank IDA for their continuing sponsorship of this event throughout the years.