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Compensation is a dramatic feature film about a young African American couple at the beginning and end of the twentieth century. It stars Michelle A. Banks and John Earl Jelks in the leading roles. Inspired by a 1906 poem from early African American writer, Paul Laurence Dunbar, the unique drama explores aspects of Black culture in both turn of the century and 1990s Chicago in two parallel love stories, both about the relationship between a deaf woman and a hearing man. Both of these stories feature Black Deaf culture and Michelle Angela Banks is an award winning pioneering Black Deaf actress. The film is subtitled so that both Deaf and hearing audiences may enjoy the film.

  • Zeinabu irene Davis
    Mother of the River, A Powerful Thang, Cycles
  • Marc Arthur Chery
    Mother of the River
  • Yvonne Welbon
    Sisters in Cinema, Living with Pride: Ruth Ellis @ 100, The New Black
  • Michelle Angela Banks
    Key Cast
    "Malindy & Malaika"
  • Christopher Smith
    Key Cast
  • John Earl Jelks
    Key Cast
    "Arthur & Nico"
    True Detective, On Becoming a God ..., Night Comes On
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 33 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    November 21, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    90,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    American Sign Language, English
  • Shooting Format:
    16 mm, black and white
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Sundance Film Festival
    Park City
    United States
    Dramatic Competition
Distribution Information
  • Women Make Movies
    Country: United States
Director Biography - Zeinabu irene Davis

Zeinabu irene Davis is an independent filmmaker and Professor of Communication at University of California, San Diego. She is comfortable working in narrative, experimental and documentary genres. Her work is passionately concerned with the depiction of women of African descent. A selection of her award winning works include a short drama about a young enslaved girl, Mother of the River (1996); a love story set in Afro-Ohio, A Powerful Thang (1991); and the feature documentary, Spirits of Rebellion (2016).

Her dramatic feature film entitled Compensation (1999) features two inter-related love stories that offer a view of Black Deaf culture. The film was selected for the Dramatic Competition at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival, and was the winner of the Gordon Parks Award for Directing from the Independent Feature Project in 1999. Compensation garnered a two-year broadcast run on the Sundance and BlackStarz! Cable Channels. Compensation was recently featured in the Black Intimacy Film Series at MOMA in October 2017 and at Brooklyn Museum's Black 90s Film Series in Spring 2019.

Her most recent release, a feature documentary work, Spirits of Rebellion: Black Cinema from UCLA has won seven awards including the prestigious “African Oscar” for Best Diaspora Feature Documentary from the African Movie Academy Awards in Nigeria and the San Diego Film Awards for Best Feature Documentary. Zeinabu irene Davis holds an undergraduate degree from Brown University, a MA in African Studies and an MFA from UCLA. Ms. Davis has received numerous grants and fellowships from such sources as the National Black Programming Consortium, Rockefeller Foundation, the American Film Institute and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her works are distributed by Women Make Movies, Third World Newsreel and Cinema Guild.

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