Elena Oumano, Ph.D., book author, music journalist, lecturer

Works

Cinema Today: A Conversation with 39 Filmmakers from Around the World

Reading Cinema Today is like attending a fascinating panel discussion chaired by a host smart enough to step back and allow this distinguished and varied group of 39 contemporary international filmmakers their say on subjects that include cinematography, the filmmaking process, rhythm and structure, cinema and business, the viewer, and cinema and society. The participants include such cinema legends as Constantin Costa-Gravas and Olivier Assayas, critically-adored radicals like Andrew Bujalski and Brillante Mendoza, and many other gifted film artists whose collective work represents the finest examples of contemporary international filmmaking, all of whom were interviewed by the author specifically for this book.

The Woodstock Museum: Because You Weren't There A myth, and a vivid reality, await you
It was high summer—rock 'n' roll season—and we were just uncomfortable enough with our dull and repressive landscape to work up that friction into a rush of revolutionary blood, and then kick it off with a party. For the nearly half-million revelers at the 1969 Woodstock Music & Arts Fair—and the many more who either wish they'd been there or have convinced themselves over the decades that they actually were on Max Yasgur's dairy farm in Bethel, New York, for those three days in August— Woodstock was the most vivid proof possible of a larger dynamic at work.

Six Decades of French Noir Come to Film Forum: Crime Pays in "French Crime Wave" series
What more delicious—not to mention cheap—way to pass the dog days of a New York City summer than by taking a vicarious plunge into the French underworld from the safe comfort of an air-conditioned cinema? Starting with the bleak contours of the period preceding the German Occupation and its aftermath's anxious confusion to the stylish rebellion of the New Wave and today's slicker psychological studies, French film directors like Jean-Pierre Melville, Jacques Becker, Jean-Luc Godard, and Claude Chabrol refashioned the tropes of American B-movies to create enduring masterpieces of good and evil.

Six Decades of French Noir Come to Film Forum Crime Pays in "French Crime Wave" series.
What more delicious—not to mention cheap—way to pass the dog days of a New York City summer than by taking a vicarious plunge into the French underworld from the safe comfort of an air-conditioned cinema? Starting with the bleak contours of the period preceding the German Occupation and its aftermath's anxious confusion to the stylish rebellion of the New Wave and today's slicker psychological studies, French film directors like Jean-Pierre Melville, Jacques Becker, Jean-Luc Godard, and Claude Chabrol refashioned the tropes of American B-movies to create enduring masterpieces of good and evil.

Flash Rosenberg http://cityarts.info/2012/03/06/flash-rosenberg/
Profile/Q&A on the prolific and versatile artist/filmmaker/stand-up/storyteller

Jah Division
Here in New York City, gays in clubs win' up to wildly popular reggae dancehall lyrics like "Fire fi de man dem weh go ride man behind," much as older gays pray in churches that condemn homosexuality. A mere dozen or so protesters picketed the sold-out Hot 97 "On da Reggae Tip Live" at Hammerstein Ballroom last September. Why pay mind to the words when the riddim and the vibe sweet yuh so?
But on Sunday, January 29, JAMPACT, an NYC-based Jamaican American civic group, held a panel at St. Francis College composed of Dr. Gordon Shirley, Jamaica's ambassador to the U.S.; Rebecca Schleifer of Human Rights Watch; Jamaican gay activist Larry Chang; and others. Schleifer was asked to address and defend points in her recent report issued by HRW in which she found that widespread homophobia in Jamaica endangers the welfare not only of those at high risk for HIV/AIDS, but also of HIV/AIDS outreach health care workers. Three days later, Amnesty International's OUTfront! program and New York's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center hosted a panel discussion at LGBT's Manhattan headquarters with representatives from the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), as part of J-FLAG's campaign for support in holding Jamaican authorities accountable for failing to protect the human rights of their LGBT citizens. While dancehall homophobia has been fodder for international headlines lately, "at the Forum, J-FLAG made clear that reggae dancehall's homophobia merely fuels Jamaica's widespread cultural bias against homosexuality and bisexuality," says Alisa Wellek, of the LGBT center.

Following widespread cancellations of dancehall concerts, Sizzla was banned in November from entering the U.K., while he and seven other dancehall artists—Beenie Man, Buju Banton, Elephant Man, Vybz Kartel, T.O.K., Capleton, and Bounty Killer—were investigated by Scotland Yard after gay activists asserted that their homophobic song lyrics constitute incitement to actual murder. In the U.S., where free speech is less restricted, "Stop Murder Music" had shut down only 30 or so Beenie Man and Capleton dates this past summer and fall, mostly on the West Coast. Meanwhile, U.K. gay activist group OutRage! shifted its "Stop Murder Music" campaign higher up reggae's food chain to retail outlets and record labels like NYC-based reggae indie VP Records. After months of negotiations, gay activist groups, the labels, and promoters announced early this month that they'd reached an agreement, and that the "Stop Murder Music" campaign had been suspended.

Various articles on music for
The Village Voice

Elena Oumano is widely viewed as a leading international journalist writing on Jamaican music, past and present.

Film Forum: 35 Top Filmmakers Talk
About Their Work

In Film Comment, the late documentary filmmaker Emile de Antonio wrote that Oumano “has sprung the catch” in the “revolving door” of the interview format, creating a new genre of nonfiction. In chapters titled “The Frame,” “Sound,” etc., prefaced by her own insights, Oumano allows the world’s greatest filmmakers to reveal the details their creative process, as if they were all gathered together at a film fan's dream round table. Received enthusiastic reviews, including from The New York Times Sunday Book Review.

Love Prescription: Healing the War Between Black Men and Women
(co-authored with Dr. Jeff Gardere, Fireside, December, 2002)
Packed with intriguing anecdotal material and hard-hitting truths, this title guides readers back to supportive, loving relationships and strong family ties. At the same time, the book tracks many of the issues plaguing African-American relationships to their root cause in Post Traumatic Slavery Disorder, a legacy of the most shameful episode in America’s history.

Selected Works

nonfiction book
From "Cinematic Rhythm & Structure": Cinema’s ability to defy ordinary limits of time and space means that a film’s structure can be as complex as an architectural space with various angles of entry and points of view, hidden rooms, and twisting, turning passageways. Some films are labyrinths in which the viewer searches for resolution, a way out, while other films are like big empty rooms in which everything is visible.
magazine article
I was there myself in '69, hired to oversee ticket-taking, and since there were no fences, I wound up backstage, eating grapes, drinking champagne punch, and dipping my pinkie into a vial of Orange Sunshine with one of the acts and his entourage. It would be more accurate to say that I dream Woodstock whenever I think about it, rather than remember it. http://www.villagevoice.com/2008-06-03/music/you-weren-t-there-then-so-go-there-now/
Great cinema seduces us with details, and Melville's a masterful image maker, prone to deeply shadowed, ravaged faces and urban landscapes, barren hotel rooms and dazzling nightclubs. His damaged but honorable thieves, uniformed in trench coats, fedoras, and cigarettes, are betrayed by interchangeable femme fatales sporting cat's-eye maquillage, pencil skirts, and stiletto heels as they act out their unvarying role: agent of fate in the protagonist's inevitable destruction. http://www.villagevoice.com/2008-07-29/film/six-decades-of-french-noir-come-to-film-forum./
Every dawn, as sunlight glinting off the top spire of the Empire State Building streams through the skylight positioned just over Flash Rosenberg’s bed, she springs up, eager for the fun of doing Flash work. She’s an award-winning filmmaker, a 2011 Guggenheim fellow in film and video, a performer in storytelling venues like Monologues and Madness and The Moth and a poet with Brevitas, and her audio snapshots—“Flash Moments”—were a daily public radio feature.
Magazine article
Magazine Articles
Free speech, cultural sovereignty, and human rights clash in reggae dancehall homophobia debate
Music Writing
Insights from an insider into Caribbean and African culture and music.
Nonfiction
From Altman to Godard to Scorsese, Oumano interviewed the world’s greatest auteur filmmakers on the primary issues of filmmaking then edited their responses into a revolutionary "you are there" symposium format.
Authored by a popular psychologist and New York City talk show host and ghosted by Oumano, this title addresses relationship issues faced by men and women in the African-American community.