Filmmaker Charlene Gilbert uses her work to create a metadialogue at the intersection of the social construction of gender, race, and representation. A professor of film at SUNY-Buffalo, Gilbert’s most recent film, Homecoming—Sometimes I Am Haunted by Memories of Red Dirt and Clay, was broadcast on PBS in February 2000. A professional filmmaker since 1991, Gilbert is the founder, producer, and director of KinFolk Productions, a production company that promotes socially responsible media projects.
Gilbert’s work in progress is titled “The Henrietta Lacks Film Project.” The film focuses on the story of an African-American woman who died in 1951 but whose cells, known as HeLa cells, were found to be one of the first immortal cell lines. The cells, which continue to be used in laboratories around the world, were removed from the body of Henrietta Lacks without the consent of her family. The film picks up on the current debates surrounding the patenting of genes and human biology, within its exploration of bioethics and the ethics of American medicine. Gilbert’s previous films have been screened nationwide and Gilbert has received many accolades, including recognition as a Kellogg National Leadership Fellow and as one of Seven Arts Magazine's “50 Rising Stars.”
Gilbert received her BA in economics and political science from Yale University and her MFA in film and media arts from Temple University. She has served as an artist in residence at both the Smithsonian Institution and at the Caprock Cultural Association as an NEA Arts Fellow.