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African-American Documentary Films on DVD in the Leavey Library: Literature

Literature

4 Walls
"...a film documenting the daily struggles and artistic endeavors of Carlton 'S.T.A.R.R.' Releford, a spoken word/slam poetry artist from Knoxville, Tennessee. This short subject documentary features interviews, slams, and intimate revelations about life as a young black man trying to make ends meet. The film was a culmination of two years of work by director George Washington Rogers, IV."

Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth
"This film tells the compelling story of an extraordinary woman's journey from her birth in a paper-thin shack in cotton fields of Putnam County, Georgia to her recognition as a key writer of the 20th Century. Alice Walker made history as the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her groundbreaking novel, The Color Purple, which has been transformed from a novel, to a Hollywood movie and latterly to a successful Broadway musical. This universal story of triumph against all odds is not that different from Walker's own story. Born in 1944, eighth child of sharecroppers, her early life unfolded in the midst of violent racism and poverty during some of the most turbulent years of profound social and political changes in North American history. Alice Walker's inspiring journey is also a story of a country and a people at the fault line of historical changes..."

Coal Black Voices
"Coal Black voices is an intimate mosaic of images, poetry, and storytelling by the Affrilachian Poets as they glimpses of life in the American Black South and Appalachian region. The ensemble of African-American writers challenge simple notions of an all white Appalachian region and culture while drawing on the traditions such as the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Arts Movement, and the experiences of the African Disapora. The poetry of the Afrilachian poets celebrates their African heritage and rural roots while encompassing themes of racism and Black identity. In this documentary they give voice to the pleasures of family, land, good food, artistic community, music and transformation."

For My People: The Life and Writing of Margaret Walker
"Through interviews with writers, scholars, and Walker herself, this documentary examines the life and work of Margaret Walker focusing on the influence that her writing had on Black women writers."

Furious Flower II: Regenerating the Black Poetic Tradition
"This 3-part program provides the definitive teaching tool for exploring the world of today's black poetry. Providing a more focused, ambitious approach than its 1998 predecessor, Furious Flower II presents outstanding critical scholarship on black contemporary poetry's origins and trends, its conflicts and consonances. Throughout, notable authors share insights and offer inspiration to fledgling poets about the creative process, and about daily life as a published writer. Interspersed with these critical conversations are impassioned readings of the most representative poems of each poet. Viewers can watch as one of America's most exciting cultural movements evolves before their eyes and ears. Program I - Roots and First Fruits traces black literary traditions from African American folklore to the Blues Aesthetic to Hip Hop, and illuminates their impact on poetry. Program II - Cross-Pollination in the Diaspora reflects upon the reciprocal influence between black American poets and writers from the African literary Diaspora. Program III - Blooming in the Whirlwind locates black poets within their historic moment and contextualizes them within relevant political movements - Civil Rights, Black Nationalism, post-colonialism and multiculturalism."

Great African American Authors
"One of the amazing American sagas is the history of African-American Literature. It is a history of a literature that rose out of slavery, oppression and racism to become one of the great literary traditions in the world. Great African American Authors, an eight part series, brings to light the accomplishments of over 40 brilliant black writers, who against all odds wrote great novels, plays and poetry. These authors include Phillis Wheatley, James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, August Wilson, Rita Dove and many more. Their story is the story of America, the story that all Americans should know."

Hughes' Dream Harlem
"Langston Hughes was one of the most prominent figures of the Harlem Renaissance and is often referred to as Harlem's poet laureate. This film shows how Hughes successfully fused jazz, blues and common speech to celebrate the beauty of Black life. This multi-layered documentary consists of spoken-word sessions, roundtable discussions and a tour of Hughes' Harlem hang-outs."

In Black and White: Conversations with African American Writers
"Interviews with African American writers-including Alice Walker and Toni Morrison."

Jump at the Sun
"A biography of African American author and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston, the first black woman to enter the American literary canon."

Langston Hughes: His Life and Times
"Alice Walker and Arnold Rampersad discuss Langston Hughes with Bruce Schwartz. Topics include experiences shaping Langston's youth, how he became a writer, the beauty and style of his writing, and the Harlem renaissance."

A Litany for Survival: The Life andd Work of Audre Lorde
"Audre Lorde, poet and lesbian-feminist talks about being lesbian and black in New York in the 1950s and her social/political activity. Includes conversations and readings by Lorde and comments by other writers and family members."

Maya Angelou, And Still I Rise
"Examines the life and legacy of African American poet, memoirist, and civil rights worker Maya Angelou, from her upbringing in the Depression-era South to her work with Malcolm X in Ghana to the recitation of her inaugural poem for President Bill Clinton. Includes Angelou's own words woven together with archival photographs and videos as well as interviews with Angelou's friends and family."

Ralph Ellison's Legacy
"In 1952 an unknown African-American writer caught the nation's attention with his very first book, which begins, "I am an invisible man." In this program, NewsHour correspondent Elizabeth Farnsworth examines Ralph Ellison's legacy on the occasion of the publication of his novel, Juneteenth, left unfinished at the time of his death. Ellison's literary executor John Callahan and Professor Charles Johnson ... consider the man behind the fame and the impact of the posthumous novel on Ellison's literary reputation, first established by Invisible Man."  - Container

The Wanda Coleman Project
"Multi award-winning filmmaker Bob Bryan features 'One of the Major Writers of her Generation.' Mr. Bryan interviews brilliant Poet / Writer / Journalist Wanda Coleman, author of over 20 books (The Riot Inside Me, Mecurochrome, Heavy Daughter Blues, Mad Dog Black Lady, etal.) It is a 'must-see' interview if you've ever loved the writings of Wanda Coleman or if you're interested in finding out what her beautiful life, poetic conceptual process and philosophy of creative writing was all about."

Zora Neale Hurston: A Heart with Room for Every Joy
"This video examines the rich legacy of the writings of Zora Neale Hurston."

Zora's Roots: The Life of Zora Neal Hurston
"This program examines the life of author and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston. The film follows Hurston, best known for her novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, to the subtropical paradise that shaped her childhood and her life's work - where she returned again and again for inspiration and solace. This documentary tells her story through the people who knew her and the places and events that she brought to the world through her writing."