Johnson Adds Filmmaker to Her Credits

Monday, April 28, 2008

Add some more lines to Sheila Johnson's résumé.

The billionaire luxury hospitality mogul, co-owner of sports teams, Barack Obama fundraiser and a violinist had her documentary film "A Powerful Noise" accepted at Robert De Niro's Tribeca Film Festival.

The 90-minute film tells how three women from Vietnam, Bosnia and Mali overcome culture and gender barriers to make a difference in the lives of their fellow citizens.

It premieres Wednesday in New York.

"It's an amazing feeling to have been accepted into the Tribeca family," Johnson said. "Don't get me wrong, it's not to the point that I'm calling Robert De Niro 'Bob,' but the film-making community of New York has made me feel very much at home. As Whoopi Goldberg told me at a luncheon recently, 'Welcome to the campus.' "

She said her interest in "A Powerful Noise" started with her role as an ambassador for CARE, the international relief agency. She also credits Ted Leonsis, the former AOL mogul and majority owner of the Washington Capitals and the WNBA's Mystics, and a minority owner in Verizon Center. Leonsis has brought Johnson in on his own film projects.

"What I am trying to get across in this movie is how these three women have empowered themselves to spark a change in these communities," Johnson said. "I keep seeing Al Gore and how he is making a big difference. My main mission that I am focusing on is women's empowerment."

Johnson will be submitting "A Powerful Voice" to more film festivals and is looking at all kinds of venues, including general theater release, cable and broadcast television. She also plans to sell the movie on DVD and integrate it into some college or high school academic courses.

The film was directed by Tom Cappello and produced by Scott Thigpen.

-- Thomas Heath

© 2008 The Washington Post Company