James Baldwin‘s (1924-1987) life and legacy can now speak to modern audiences in a new documentary called I Am Not Your Negro. The film is finally getting a long overdue theatrical release from Magnolia Pictures this February 3rd after wowing audiences at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival. I Am Not Your Negro is a film from Haitian director Raoul Peck that envisions Baldwin’s final, albeit incomplete novel Remember This House as an uncompromising and complete narrative of race in America. The unfinished memoir focuses on the authors personal memories and relationships with three enduring Civil Rights leaders: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers, and Malcolm X. Peck was allowed access to the entire Baldwin archives and composed the film over a period of 10 years, drawing from the incomplete manuscript and Baldwin’s own personal notes. It won the People’s Choice Documentary Award and, like Baldwin himself, is sure to stand as a vital testament to race in America today. Continue reading →
This week’s Memorable Movie Moment takes us back to 1962 and director Robert Mulligan‘s big screen adaptation of author Harper Lee‘s To Kill a Mockingbird. The story of Mockingbird goes even further back to the Depression-era South, and finds white attorney Atticus Finch defending a black man accused of beating a white woman. Atticus Finch has become a name synonymous with racial justice in twentieth-century America. The book was published in 1960 and became an instant best-seller, earning author Lee a Pulitzer Prize. It is regularly read among high school literature classes and has become one of the most famous and successful novels ever written. After publishing Mockingbird, Lee never wrote another book. She did assist author Truman Capote with research for his famous novel In Cold Blood, and the character of Dill is said to be based on Capote, who was a childhood friend of the authors. Lee’s estate also published the original manuscript for Mockingbird titled Go Set a Watchman earlier this year, but the release remains somewhat controversial as Lee’s health was deteriorating and questions arose regarding whether it was her idea to publish the novel or not. Continue reading →
Author Harper Lee pictured on-set with actress Mary Badham, who portrayed Scout in the film adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird with Gregory Peck.
Celebrated Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Harper Lee, has remained quite dormant over the last 50 years of her life, ever since she gave her last interview in 1964 regarding her American literary classic To Kill A Mockingbird. The novel became one of the most powerful and important literary reflections of racism in our modern society, taking place in Depression-era Alabama amidst hard economic times and astronomical segregation laws and practices that would remain in place until the Civil Rights Movement nearly 30 years later. And now, during a time when racial tensions are once again dominating news headlines in this country, Lee will be publishing a long, lost manuscript that she wrote prior to the publication of Mockingbird, titled Go Set A Watchmen. The novel, whose pages ended up being the earliest draft for Mockingbird, follows Jean-Louise Finch (Scout) as a 26-year-old woman living in New York City who returns to her home in the South to confront her father, Atticus, about the issues and lifestyles that people deemed as appropriate and necessary during her childhood. Lee’s writings of the character’s childhood in the form of flashbacks in Watchman became her inspiration to tell the story of Mockingbird from the perspective of Scout as a child instead of an adult, and thus To Kill A Mockingbird was written and published. Much controversy has already been stirred at the news of Go Set A Watchman‘s publication, including concerns about how readers will react to Lee’s writing about the issues, questions as to whether or not Lee is coherent enough to give her permission for the novel’s publication (which reporters and friends and Lee, herself, says she is) and what the reaction will be to Lee’s further development/portrayal of such beloved characters, especially Atticus Finch. Nevertheless the novel will be available on bookshelves this July 14th, and pre-sales have already made the book a Bestseller. So if you are a fan of Harper Lee or of To Kill A Mockingbird, I would definitely put this on your ‘To-Read’ list.