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Original Motion Picture
Bessie Coleman Flying the Blues
"Bessie Coleman Flying the Blues”
REGISTRATION #: 1677619
A story about the amazing and touching life of the first African-American female to fly an airplane. The beautiful and brave Bessie Coleman fights through harsh racism and gender bias in the 1920s to eventually triumph in the new and dangerous aviation field as a barnstormer and stunt pilot.
The major newspapers in the 1920s had a fascination with aviation. The first black female to fly an airplane, however, was made a household name among African Americans by the black press. They both covered her. Bessie Coleman was called “a vivacious little cutie” in one major newspaper and a “nervy lady” by The Chicago Defender, a black weekly. Bessie’s antagonist is a storm of circumstances that includes her being female, black and economically poor in the exciting times of the roaring twenties. Blues songs and swing-Jazz dances created excitement everywhere. Bessie’s best friend and confidant, Ethel, becomes one of the most celebrated Blues, Gospel and Jazz singers of the day.
Reporters flock behind the incredibly dressed Bessie at airshows. She repeatedly tells them her dream of building a flight school so that [everyone] could learn how to fly. She also angers some by refusing to perform at events that did not permit African Americans. Coleman gets her way because she is a star whose skills as a barnstormer are unmatched. She out dazzles even the best stunt pilots of her day. She walks on the wings of planes and makes her airplane do tricks that only a few would dare. Many barnstormers died at airshows during the early times in aviation. Queen Bess, as she is sometimes called, consistently compels thousands to come see her defy death.
STORY: “Hidden Figures” meets “Amelia”
Bessie Coleman Film Project
UNF Documentary Film Study
BJ Rouse entered the film industry as Script Supervisor for Showtime’s short film, "Jacob’s Sound." She was on the production team of Showtime’s AIDS Awareness and NYU thesis short film, "A Spoonful of Sugar" which has received numerous awards and accolades. Rouse wrote, directed and produced her first short film, "Billie" that made its screening debut at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles and won best short film at the Denver International Film Festival. She has served as writer, director and producer of her short film “Queen Victoria’s Wedding” and director/producer on the horror short, “Are You Looking.” Rouse has also produced the award-winning NYU thesis film, "Rose’s Brew," horror short, “Blood Moon” and documentary short film, “Ryan’s Story.”
Rouse is a former recipient of both the Kodak and the Panavision New Filmmakers Grant. In 2006, she was one of twelve writers selected for the prestigious Guy Hanks and Marvin Miller Advanced Screenwriting Program at the University of Southern California. Aside from her writing, directing and producing, BJ served as Assistant Director on projects such as gospel artist Deitrick Haddon's music video "Love Him Like I Do," featuring Mary Mary and Ruben Studdard, television series “Dr. Brown,” and WEtv's season premiere promos for "Braxton Family Values" and "Tamar & Vince" reality television series. Rouse also contracts as a Producing Consultant for various independent commercials, narrative and documentary films.
Currently, Rouse is the Director of the non-profit organization she founded, After School Arts Academy, that teaches the Arts to middle and high school students in the underserved areas of Los Angeles County. She also serves as Production Specialist at El Camino Community College where she creates, develops and oversees the video productions of ADA compliant content for deaf, hard-of-hearing and visually impaired students, oversees production personnel, envisions, creates and develops audio-visual materials, maintains the budget for production assignments and oversees student use in the college’s television studio.
In her spare time, Rouse volunteers as an advisor for the El Camino College News Broadcasting Club, serves as a judge for three film festivals: Long Beach Indie, Directing Change and Hollywood Foreign Press/CSULB Short Film Festival. She also is a proud mom, caddy and manager of her young son’s junior golf career.