Dir. Brian Gibson (1991) 131 min.
“Before Madonna. Before Marilyn. There was Josephine.” Brian Gibson’s made-for-cable TV Emmy Award winning biography of Josephine Baker (played by Lynn Whitfield) chronicles the different stages of La Baker’s life and her rise to fame, from her days as Freda Josephine McDonald living on the streets as a school drop-out in Saint Louis, MO to her promising beginnings as a vaudeville dancer, to her journey to New York during the Harlem Renaissance where she performed at the Plantation Club and later in a number of popular Broadway revues. From there, the film depicts her arrival in Paris at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees and later to the Folies Bergeres in Paris, where she strangely found more success than in the United States. To his credit, Gibson goes beyond the rags-to-riches formula, engaging Josephine Baker’s life in politics, her role in the French Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement, while broadly chronicling the relationships, experiences and circumstances that shaped Josephine Baker’s life and diverse oeuvre.
After the Movie:
Panel discussion including La Baker’s son and midtown restauranteur Jean-Claude Baker and other special invited guests.
With reception sponsored by Sugar Hill