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Through a Lens Darkly:

Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People

(a (formerly entitled "Reflections in Black")

 

Through A Lens Darkly Trailer
Trailer


Production Stills

AOL Black Voices Interview during Tribeca All Acess Program

Through A Lens Darkly is a two-hour film that will explore the role of photography, since its rudimentary beginnings in the 1840s, in shaping the identity, aspirations, and social emergence of African Americans from slavery to the present.The dramatic arch is developed as a visual narrative that flows through the past 160 years to reveal black photography as an instrument for social change, an African American point-of-view on American history, and a particularized aesthetic vision .

Through A Lens Darkly is inspired by Dr. Deborah Willis's ground breaking book Reflections in Black.

 

 




The Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela

 


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73 minutes, Color, 2005

- Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Documentary Film - Roxbury Film Festival H

- Best Documentary - Pan African Film Festival

-Best Documentary - Santa Cruz Film Festival

- Revolution Award - Imagenation Festival

- Honorable Mention as Audience Favorite - Bermuda International Film Festival

- Independent Spirit Award Nomination - Truer Than Fiction Category

- 2005 Toronto International Film Festival - World Premiere

-- 2005 MACUFE Festival, Bloemfontein - African Premiere

THE TWELVE DISCIPLES OF NELSON MANDELA, film based on the story of the first wave of South African exiles who left Bloemfontein in 1960 to keep the anti-apartheid movement alive from East Africa, Europe, America and Cuba. In their heroic journey, this group of twelve -- and the thousands of young South African freedom fighters that would follow them - helped to create a global seismic shift that ultimately toppled the apartheid system in South Africa. One of the Disciples, Pule Benjamin Leinaeng, was the filmmaker's late father.

 

"Harris pays tribute to Benjamin Pule Leinaeng, the stepfather who raised him, by traveling to South Africa and excavating the late Leinaeng¹s life as a political activist [in] the ANC and whose real-life exploits play like a James Bond film. Harris¹ trademark elegant visual style (owing much to both high-end fashion magazines and experimental film and photography) is put into the service of dramatic re-creations that flesh out documentary commentary from old friends and political allies, while family photos and home video become potent artifacts in the transformation of grief into celebration" - LA Weekly.

"An important documentary" - The New York Times

"Intensely personal yet historically expansive" - Time Out New York

"Inspiring" -The Tennessean "

"Intimate and intriguing.Ó Joanne Weintraub"

- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"A fascinating hybrid" - New York Magazine

"Harris' historical re-enactments are impressively colorful and detailed" - New York Press

"...represents a strong calling card for U.S.-born helmer Thomas Allen Harris" -Variety
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E Minha Cara/That's My Face

 

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56 minutes, Color, 2001

- 2001 Toronto International Film Festival - World Premiere

- International Filmmaker Award -Toronto Reel Black Awards 2002

- Gordon Parks Award Finalist -Independent Feature Project Market 2001

- 2002 Sundance International Film Festival - USA Premiere

- 2002 Berlin International Film Festival - Prize of the Churches of the Ecumenical Jury

- 2002 Tribeca Film Festival - New York Premiere

- 2002 Denver Pan-African Film Festival - Best Documentary

- 2002 San Francisco Black Film Festival - Best Documentary


"A visually gorgeous melding of poetry and politics."
-Ernest Hardy, LA Weekly

A mythopoetic odyssey exploring identity and spirituality across three generations of an African-American family. USA, East Africa and Brazil.

Astoundingly beautiful and epic in scope, That's My Face (é minha cara) is a personal documentary offering an entire generation of African Americans a groundbreaking perspective on the maddening diasporic search for a mythic motherland. In healing his own cultural yearnings, director Thomas Allen Harris journeys beyond the political movements of his day and into a spiritual realm where he finds much more then he expects.

His grandparents' African Methodist-Episcopal church taught Thomas as a child that Africa was a place that could only be saved by Christian missionaries. But his rebellious mother was part of the 1970s' movement that regarded Africa as home "because we knew America didn't want us" and migrated the family to Tanzania, East Africa. When they arrived in the modern city of Dar-es-Saalam, Africa seemed more like Miami than the motherland they imagined.

Thomas learned to love Africa for what it was, but when he returned to the Bronx, he was unable to express his newfound identity. Even his African Methodist-Episcopalian faith failed to provide him comfort until he learned from an Afro-Brazilian friend that beneath the patina of conventional Christian iconography is a rich double life of African ancestral spirit worship. Like his mother, Thomas embarks on a migration across the ocean, this time to Brazil, in an effort to find a sense of home and belonging.

"Shot entirely on Super-8 film and employing an innovative sound design that uses rap and hip-hop multivoice sampling, That's My Face is as much an artistic gem as a spiritual gift."
- Shari Frilot, Programmer, 2002 Sundance Film Festival

"The impressionist beauty of Harris's Super-8 footage should give pause to anyone continuing to shoot their documentaries on digital video."
- Anthony Kaufman, The Village Voice

"Mesmerizing documentary..."
- Ronnie Scheib, Variety


To purchase a VHS copy of É Minha Cara/That's My Face, contact Chimpanzee Productions

Institutions VHS: $350.00
Festival Rental Beta or 35mm: $300.00






VINTAGE - Families of Value

 

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72 minutes, 1995, Color

Awards:

Best Documentary Video, 20th Annual Atlanta Film and Video Festival,1996

Golden Gate Award, San Francisco International Film Festival, 1996

VINTAGE - Families of Value is a fantasy documentary film which intimately explores three African-American families through the eyes of lesbian and gay male siblings -- two or more in the same family.

Awarded Best Documentary by the 1996 Atlanta International Film Festival and a Golden Gate by the 1996 San Francisco International Film Festival, this lyrical and impressionistic film, blends intimate and sometimes painful conversations between family members, with dramatic re-creations, verit* footage, performance, audio visual collage and archival photos and films to sketch a provocative tableau of three modern black families negotiating sexuality and identity.


Any questions or comments please e-mail Thomas Allen Harris.
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