(b. Chicago, IL) Dr. Artel Great is an American writer, Independent Spirit Award-nominated filmmaker, and Black cinema scholar, highly regarded as a leading authority on race and popular culture. His insightful and innovative contributions bridge the gap between cinema and social justice.
As a public scholar and critically-informed film director, his work transcends boundaries and defies conventional categorization. Dr. Great approaches the art, production, and criticism of Black cinema and culture as a form of creative and intellectual activism to address social issues and highlight the myriad links between art and politics.
His professional output extends to major Hollywood studios, garnering supporting roles in films like the box-office hit Save the Last Dance, Oprah Winfrey's Their Eyes Were Watching God, and the indie classic Dahmer, where he delivered an award-winning performance opposite Jeremey Renner.
Dr. Great is the first Black valedictorian at UCLA Film School, where he graduated summa cum laude and holds his BA and MA degrees. He later earned his PhD at New York University.
A noted social entrepreneur, Dr. Great is the creator of one of the internet's earliest web series. He also founded Project Catalyst, the very first streaming service dedicated to showcasing entertainment by and for global communities of color. This groundbreaking streaming platform won him the Cinema Research Institute Fellowship for innovation.
Dr. Great has taught a range of university courses on cinema, television, and popular culture at UCLA, NYU, and Spelman College. Presently, he holds the distinguished position as the George and Judy Marcus Endowed Chair of African American Cinema Studies at San Francisco State University. And his rigorous production of knowledge landed him a selection as the 2023 Social Justice Research Fellow at the University of Oregon.
Recognizing his insights and expertise, the Smithsonian affiliate Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco recently appointed Dr. Great as its inaugural Cultural Critic-in-Residence, where he has curated remarkable public programming and events. He is frequently sought after as a media commentator and consultant, sharing his knowledge and perspective on popular platforms like The New York Times, CNN, The Guardian, and USA Today. His influential essay "Black Cinema Matters" was published in The New Republic magazine.
He is the author and co-editor of the best-selling book Black Cinema & Visual Culture: Art and Politics in the 21st Century (Routledge, 2023), alongside preeminent film scholar and critic Ed Guerrero. The socially timely book debuted number one on Amazon Books: New Releases.
As a multi-hyphenate filmmaker, Dr. Great's movies have been showcased in major multiplexes, art-house theaters, U.S. and global film festivals, as well as on cable, broadcast television, and popular streaming platforms like Amazon and Netflix. His contributions as a writer/director gained recognition with his debut feature Love Like Winter, for which he won a Best Director nomination at the 2021 Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles. His acclaimed second feature, Love Walks In, has screened in theaters and film festivals nationally and internationally. Both films represent the initial installments of his cinematic tetralogy, "The Love Cycle," which explore the nuances of Black love in America.