Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes / Feeling Heart

When Lorraine Hansberry premiered A Raisin in the Sun on Broadway in 1959 (the first play by a Black woman to do so) actress Ruby Dee recalls marveling how it “opened a new chapter in theater, that included Black people.” While most may know the widely studied and performed A Raisin in the Sun as their only reference point for Hansberry, the documentary makes it abundantly clear that there is much more to know about the author. 

The filmmakers combed archives worldwide with unprecedented access to Hansberry’s personal papers, archives, home movies and photos in order to present her complex life. Like her writing and activism, the film draws attention to some of the most outstanding issues of the mid-Twentieth Century and beyond (racial justice, colonialism, feminism, class divisions, sexuality) and addresses the role of artists and intellectuals in bringing them to center stage. 

The film features interviews with the play’s original cast members, Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Louis Gossett, Jr. and Glynn Turman, director Lloyd Richards, producer Phil Rose, supporter Harry Belafonte, and writer Amiri Baraka.

After the film, Cornelius Moore (California Newsreel) and Ellen Sebastian Chang lead a conversation about the 14-year journey towards completing the film, why Hansberry’s complicated life story and cultural production is important to the social and political landscape, and why California Newsreel got involved.

CORNELIUS MOORE is a long time co-director of California Newsreel, the 50 year old non-profit film distribution and production company. He has been a guest lecturer and curator in the US and abroad with particular expertise on films from the Black world.

ELLEN SEBASTIAN CHANG is a creative director and educator with creative and theatre works spanning nearly 40 years in the Bay Area. Her most challenging project to date was as co-founder of FuseBOX, recognized as one of the Bay Area's premiere community dining experiences.

Red Bay Coffee
January 12 • 7:00PM

Genre: Documentary
Year: 2018
Length: 118’
Nation: USA
Language: English
Director: Tracy Heather Strain

The first feature documentary about Lorraine Hansberry