Image

5:18 PM / Saturday February 4, 2023

23 May 2019

The-Pieces-I-Am

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
May 23, 2019 Category: Entertainment Posted by:

An intimate look at the award-winning writer, opening Friday, June 28 at the Ritz 5

“Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am” offers an artful and intimate meditation on the life and works of the legendary storyteller and Nobel prize winner. From her childhood in the steel town of Lorain, Ohio to 70s-era book tours with Muhammad Ali and the front lines with Angela Davis, to her own riverfront writing room, Toni Morrison leads an assembly of her peers, critics and colleagues on an exploration of race, America, history and the human condition as seen through the prism of her own literature. Inspired to write because no one took a “little Black girl” seriously, Morrison reflects on her lifelong deconstruction of the master narrative. Woven together with a rich collection of art, history, literature and personality, the film includes discussions about her many critically acclaimed works, including novels “The Bluest Eye,” “Sula” and “Song of Solomon,” her role as an editor of iconic African-American literature and her time teaching at Princeton University.  

In addition to Ms. Morrison, the film features interviews with Hilton Als, Angela Davis, Fran Lebowitz, Walter Mosley, Sonia Sanchez and Oprah Winfrey, who turned Morrison’s novel “Beloved” into a feature film. Using Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ elegant portrait-style interviews, “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am” includes original music by Kathryn Bostic, a specially created opening sequence by artist Mickalene Thomas, and evocative works by other contemporary African American artists, including Kara Walker, Rashid Johnson and Kerry James Marshall.

“On February 9, 1981, Toni Morrison entered my small East Village photo studio for a Soho News cover shoot,” director Timothy Greenfield Sanders said. “She wore a dark suit with a white blouse and smoked a pipe. I had no photo assistants and hung all of the nine-foot-wide backdrops myself. At this point in her career, she was a full-time writer. “Tar Baby,” her fourth novel, was in print. Her days as an editor at Random House were nearly over, and she no longer needed to teach to support her two sons.”

“It was an instant friendship,”  Sanders continued. “She recognized she could trust me as a photographer, something I always hope for in a photo shoot. This trust continued over the years as I took more portraits for her books and their press. When Vanity Fair profiled her, she insisted that only I could shoot her. They put me on the masthead soon after.

I was thrilled for her when she won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993.

In 2006, at a portrait shoot in my studio for “Margaret Garner,” Toni’s new opera based on the “Beloved” story, we discussed all the remarkable black divas she had interviewed for the production. ‘We should do a book about them – I’ll write the text and you take the photos,’ she said. That conversation sparked an idea to document discussions on identity by leading African Americans – musicians, politicians, writers and CEOs. Toni agreed to sit as our first subject. In 2008, my feature length documentary, The Black List: Volume 1, premiered at Sundance and aired on HBO. The project also included my portrait photography, a book and traveling exhibitions. Many volumes and iterations of “List” films followed.

In 2014, I suggested a documentary about her life. At this point, Toni Morrison was world famous but quite private. She was reluctant to talk about herself and hesitant about the hours required for filmed interviews. But she didn’t say no. I explained how important I thought it would be to hear from her friends and colleagues and to capture on film her history, accomplishments and the important themes of her many works. Hers was a monumental life that had impacted the world’s culture. A life that deserved an important documentary. It was also a film I really wanted to make.”

Eventually, Toni agreed. 

“Conceptually, of the film’s 13 interviews only Toni would be filmed in my direct-to-camera style,” Sanders continued. “Only she would look into the camera, directly addressing the viewer. Toni was open and intimate, thought-provoking and emotional. The result is powerful and historic. Our long friendship – nearly 38 years – comes through on camera.”

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Leave a Comment

Recent News

Local

Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson releases statement in response to Philadelphia Water Department’s proposed rate increases  

February 3, 2023

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: Katherine Gilmore Richardson (Photo/PHL City Council) Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson (At-Large)...

Entertainment

Philly Cultural Beat – February 2023

February 3, 2023

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: Gregory Porter (Photos courtesy: Philly Cultural Beat) By Steve Bryant February’s...

Go With The-Flo

Priceless will sing in the Roz Live musical tribute “GLADYS” at 54 Below in New York City

February 3, 2023

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: Priceless Photo courtesy:  Priceless By Flo Anthony Following her $24 million...

Oasis

cj speaks…  Waiting on the Lord

February 3, 2023

Tweet Share Pin Email No matter what is going on in your life, you rise to the...

Health

Are you ready to prioritize your health goals?

February 3, 2023

Tweet Share Pin Email Help protect yourself against pneumococcal pneumonia. BPT The beginning of a new year...

Food And Beverage

Gift decadence during this season of love

February 3, 2023

Tweet Share Pin Email FAMILY FEATURES Valentine’s Day may traditionally be a lovers’ holiday, but it’s also...

The Philadelphia Sunday Sun Staff