Join us for a screening of Songs from the Hole, directed by Contessa Gayles.

Songs from the Hole

  • Directed by Contessa Gayles (106 min). Not rated
  • At 15, he took a life. Three days later, his brother’s life was taken. An incarcerated musician struggles for healing and peace as he comes of age in this documentary visual album composed behind bars.

The screening will be followed by a Q&A with director, Contessa Gayles and producer, richie reseda.

Please note: Auditorium seating is available on a first come first serve basis for the film screening. An overflow space will be provided once we are at capacity. 

This screening is part of the 50th Newark Black Film Festival!

Meet the Filmmaker

Contessa Gayles

Director, Screenwriter, Producer

Contessa is a film director, writer, DP, editor and an Emmy-nominated producer. She tells stories about identity, socio-political movement, healing, Black liberation and the radical imagination.

Contessa’s forthcoming feature-length documentary visual album, Songs from the Hole, world premiered at SXSW 2024, where it won the Audience Award, Visions category. Her documentary short, Founder Girls (Exec. Producer Queen Latifah), premiered at the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival and broadcast on BET. Her work has been supported by Impact Partners, Field of Vision, Artemis Rising Foundation, the International Documentary Association, the California Arts Council, the DeNovo Initiative, and Queen Latifah’s Queen Collective. She was an SFFILM filmmaker in residence and has been awarded fellowships with the Film Independent/Netflix Amplifier fellowship, the Bay Area Video Coalition MediaMaker fellowship, the Firelight Documentary Lab, the Chicken & Egg Eggcelerator Lab and the Open Society Foundations Soros Justice fellowship.

Previously, she was a producer at CNN, where she created, directed, produced, shot and edited award-winning original series and documentaries, including the feature documentary, The Feminist on Cellblock Y, shorts; Women Who March, Women Who March: The Movement, and series including; This Is Birth with Lisa Ling and the 2016 News & Documentary Emmy-nominated Feeding America’s Most Vulnerable Children. She has additionally contributed to VICE, PBS NewsHour, PBS Frontline, CBS, Time, Al Jazeera, Vox, WIRED, AFROPUNK and documentary features, including Netflix’s Emmy-Nominated Convergence: Courage in a Crisis (2021), Disney/Hulu’s Anthem (2023), SHOWTIME’s Surge (2020), Black Mothers Love & Resist (2022) and others. Contessa earned a B.A. from Columbia University and an M.A. in Journalism & Documentary Film from New York University. Her thesis documentary short, School of Yoga, premiered at the 2015 DOC NYC Film Festival.