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Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am at the Film Forum

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Toni Morrison in TONI MORRISON: THE PIECES I AM, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Timothy Greenfield-Sanders.
Toni Morrison in TONI MORRISON: THE PIECES I AM, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Timothy Greenfield-Sanders.

As with any jigsaw puzzle you must examine each individual piece to have a comprehensive view of the whole. In the 1 hour 59 minute documentary ‘Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am’ you are face to face with one of the most provocative authors of the last 100 years. Whether by syllabus, the Oprah Winfrey Book Club or personal interest, most have picked up one, if not all of Toni’s novels. Her writing is synonymous with pointed observations recounted in sentences styled as bite-sized truths with the power of a bulldozer.

Production team behind the scenes of TONI MORRISON: THE PIECES I AM, a Magnolia Pictures release. Front row: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Toni Morrison, Sandra Guzman. Back row: Chad Thompson, Johanna Giebelhaus, Jackie Sanchez, Graham Willoughby, Leon Coltrane, Tommy Walker. Photo courtesy of Timothy Greenfield-Sanders.

Production team behind the scenes of TONI MORRISON: THE PIECES I AM, a Magnolia Pictures release. Front row: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Toni Morrison, Sandra Guzman. Back row: Chad Thompson, Johanna Giebelhaus, Jackie Sanchez, Graham Willoughby, Leon Coltrane, Tommy Walker. Photo courtesy of Timothy Greenfield-Sanders.

In this documentary, Toni walks us through her many life experiences that shaped her and her writing. Intermittently she explains in matter of fact tones her impression of race, being an African American/Black author, gender equality, and the power of words. As a child you were taught sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you. Throughout this film you come to realize that words are key. Following Toni’s journey you also realize that she has impacted the lives of many readers and also many authors. There is a clear line drawn in the sand where she is acutely aware of the challenges she has faced, however she is so intensely focused on the things that matter, those challenges appear minuscule. Because it is Toni Morrison and because there is laughter, not based on levity, it is a worthwhile and important documentary to experience.

Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, director of TONI MORRISON: THE PIECES I AM, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Timothy Greenfield-Sanders.

Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, director of TONI MORRISON: THE PIECES I AM, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Timothy Greenfield-Sanders.

Both a voyeuristic and introspective delight, the viewer sees themselves in what is a one of a kind human being. New York Said can’t help but to appreciate the many New Yorkers also present in the film and the city of New York itself. Toni Morrison: Pieces I Am directed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders will open up at the Film Forum on June 21, 2019.

SYNOPSIS

Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am offers an artful and intimate meditation on the life and works of the legendary storyteller and Nobel prize-winner. From her childhood in the steel town of Lorain, Ohio to ‘70s-era book tours with Muhammad Ali, from the front lines with Angela Davis to her own riverfront writing room, Toni Morrison leads an assembly of her peers, critics and colleagues on an exploration of race, America, history and the human condition as seen through the prism of her own literature. Inspired to write because no one took a “little black girl” seriously, Morrison reflects on her lifelong deconstruction of the master narrative. Woven together with a rich collection of art, history, literature and personality, the film includes discussions about her many critically acclaimed works, including novels “The Bluest Eye,” “Sula” and “Song of Solomon,” her role as an editor of iconic African-American literature and her time teaching at Princeton University.

In addition to Ms. Morrison, the film features interviews with Hilton Als, Angela Davis, Fran Lebowitz, Walter Mosley, Sonia Sanchez and Oprah Winfrey, who turned Morrison’s novel “Beloved” into a feature film. Using Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ elegant portrait-style interviews, Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am includes original music by Kathryn Bostic, a specially created opening sequence by artist Mickalene Thomas, and evocative works by other contemporary African-American artists including Kara Walker, Rashid Johnson and Kerry James Marshall.

 

Toni Morrison: Pieces I Am directed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders will open in New York at Film Forum and Film at Lincoln Center (and Los Angeles) on Friday, June 21 followed by San Francisco, Washington DC, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia and Boston on June 28 and a further expansion in July.

Rubi Q hails from the imagination of her creator. She writes about art, New York City, and all things creative. Currently she is a contributing staff writer for New York Said.

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