Directed by Tracy Heather Strain (USA, 2018, 118 min.). Digital. Narrated by LaTanya Richardson Jackson; Lorraine Hansberry voiced by Anika Noni Rose.
On March 11, 1959, Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun opened on Broadway and changed the face of American theater forever. As the first-ever black woman to author a play performed on Broadway, she did not shy away from richly drawn characters and unprecedented subject matter. The play attracted record crowds and earned the coveted top prize from the New York Drama Critics’ Circle. While the play is seen as a groundbreaking work of art, the story of Hansberry’s life is far less known.
Part of PBS’s American Masters series, the new documentary Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes, Feeling Heart is the first in-depth presentation of Hansberry’s complex life, using her personal papers and archives, including home movies and rare photos, as source material. The film explores the influences that shaped Hansberry’s childhood, art, and activism. Filmmaker and Peabody Award-winner Tracy Heather Strain (Unnatural Causes, I’ll Make Me a World, American Experience: Building the Alaska Highway) crafts the story of one woman who believed, like many of her generation, that words could change society. Family, friends, and colleagues, including Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Harry Belafonte, her sister Mamie Hansberry, Lloyd Richards, Amiri Baraka, and Louis Gossett Jr., share their personal memories of Hansberry, offering an intimate look at a woman who was, as Poitier says in the film, “reaching into the essence of who we were, who we are, and where we came from.”
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