Michael J. Dennis is a graduate of both New York University and The American Film Institute, his short films and documentaries have won awards and screened worldwide. In 1999, Dennis founded Reelblack, a full-service production company. In addition to producing work-for-hire, it is responsible for Reelblack TV, an entertainment/newsmagazine partnered with YouTube with over 6 million views. His Reelblack Presents and Soul Food Cinema are monthly events designed to showcase classic films and work by up-and-coming filmmakers chronicling the Black experience. Since 2002, he has screened and/or promoted over 900 films. He is proud bring his knowledge, experience and vision to the PIFVA board during this exciting period in the growth of regional and independent filmmaking.
As a filmmaker, Dennis specializes in music-related work, having documented the burgeoning Philly Neo-Soul scene in his films JAZZYFATNASTEES: IN PROCESS (2002), A TASTE OF LADY ALMA (2004), KINDRED: IN THIS LIFE TOGETHER (2006) and the upcoming LAST NIGHT AT THE FIVE SPOT (2011). His documentary feature, PHILLY BOY: A MOVIE ABOUT M.C. BREEZE, made its debut at the first annual H2O Hip Hop Film Festival in 2002. His short film, NEXT TUESDAY, produced for WYBE-TV in Philadelphia (and later aired on BET) is noted for its early soundtrack appearances by John Legend and Jazmine Sullivan.
In 2008, Dennis won the fist ever CNN IReport Film Festival’s Jury Prize for THE 13TH AMENDMENT, a short film about his grandmother, Helen Dennis getting the opportunity to vote for Barack Obama. It premiered at the 2008 Urbanworld Film Festival and went on to screen at festivals worldwide as well as on BET’s Real Stories and Youtube’s Screening Room, where it racked up an impressive 300,000 views in its first three days. 2008 also brought the premiere of the half-hour documentary URSULA RUCKER: POET, which also premiered at Urbanworld. In February 2010, he was selected as one of 5 “Artists To Watch,” by his hometown paper, Philadelphia Weekly.