Wednesday, April 6th, 6:30pm
The Schomburg and the Maysles Cinema Present:
The Langston Hughes Auditorium
at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
515 Malcolm X Blvd (Between 135th and 136th Street)
Karen Thorsen, 2015, 87 min
Back in 1989, the 16mm version of Baldwin received stellar reviews and awards. Honored at festivals in over two-dozen countries – including Sundance, London, Berlin and Tokyo – the film was described as “Splendid” by Variety, “A video page-turner” by The San Francisco Chronicle, and “A haunting, beautifully made biography” by the Los Angeles Times. “Stays with you after the program ends,” said the New York Times. Now considered a documentary film classic, the original Baldwin film has been restored and re-mastered in 2K HD with the help of the Ford Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts in honor of James Baldwin’s 90th birthday. An emotional portrait, a social critique, and a passionate plea for human equality, this film is a vérité feast. Without using narration, the film allows Baldwin to tell his own story: exploring what it means to be born black, impoverished, gay and gifted – in a world that has yet to understand that “all men are brothers.”Intercutting rarely-seen archival footage from over one hundred sources and nine different countries, the film melds intimate interviews and eloquent public speeches with astounding private glimpses of Baldwin.
The film also includes a rich selection of original footage: scenes from Baldwin’s extraordinary funeral service; explorations of Baldwin’s homes on three continents, including France, Switzerland, Turkey and Harlem; plus on-camera interviews with close friends, colleagues and critics. Witnesses include his brother David; biographer David Leeming; writers Maya Angelou, Amiri Baraka, William Styron, Ishmael Reed and Yashar Kemal; painter Lucien Happersberger and entertainer Bobby Short.
Baldwin has not been shown in Harlem since 1989 (at the Schomburg then as well) and this is the first time the remastered version is being shown publicly in Harlem anywhere.
A Nobody Knows / DKDmedia / Maysles Films / American Masters Presentation of
A Karen Thorsen, Produced by William Miles & Karen Thorsen, Co-Produced by Douglas K. Dempsey,Executive Producers Albert Maysles & Susan Lacy
“Succeeds remarkably in getting into the mind and spirit of the most celebrated Black
writer of our time. — New York Times
“A splendid film. Keen and careful. Beautifully structured.” — Variety
A Q&A with director Karen Thorsen, James Baldwin’s niece Aisha Karefa-Smart, and his nephew Trevor Baldwin will follow the screening.