Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People

19 Nov
A photograph by Lyle Ashton Harris as seen in Through a Glass Darkly. [Photo: First Run Features]

A photograph by Lyle Ashton Harris as seen in Through a Glass Darkly. [Photo: First Run Features]

Announcing the premiere of The Henry Hampton Minority Documentarian Series

Washington University Film & Media Archive is excited to announce the premiere of The Henry Hampton Minority Documentarian Series. The series seeks to share documentary films made by minority filmmakers or that depict the stories of often underrepresented groups with a focus on the African-American experience. We aim to screen 4-5 films a year as well as bring in at least two of the filmmakers.

In partnership with Cinema St. Louis and the Department of African and African-American Studies, the series will kick off this Saturday, November 22, 7:30pm at Brown Auditorium with a free screening of Through A Lens Darkly with filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris in attendance. The film explores the role of photography in shaping the identity, aspirations, and social emergence of African-Americans from slavery to the present.

“Inspired by the book “Reflections in Black” (2000), Deborah Willis’s groundbreaking and thorough excavation of a vital and neglected photographic tradition, Mr. Harris’s film is a family memoir, a tribute to unsung artists and a lyrical, at times heartbroken, meditation on imagery and identity. “

A.O. Scott,  New York Times Aug. 26, 2014

Henry Hampton - Photo by Dave Henderson.

Henry Hampton – Photo by Dave Henderson.

Henry Hampton (1940-98) was a St. Louis native and 1961 graduate of Washington University. In 1968, he established his Boston-based company Blackside, Inc., which quickly became the largest African-American-owned film production company of its time. Hampton’s works chronicle the 20th century’s great political and social movements, focusing on the lives of the poor and disenfranchised.

Hampton originally aspired to be a fiction writer but the circumstances of his life and upbringing in the segregated city of St. Louis led him to his great subject: the civil rights movement. Hampton’s involvement in the protests in Selma, Alabama in 1965 created the idea for a film in Hampton’s mind. It would take twenty years to bring that story to the twenty million viewers who saw Eyes on the Prize. The series chronicled the epic struggle of unknown heroes, as well as the leaders of the movement. Hampton interviewed key people who had previously been unknown to historians, and he used innovative documentary film techniques to present the story. Decades after its release, Eyes on the Prize is still considered the definitive work on the civil rights movement. The Boston Globe praised the series as “one of the most distinguished documentary series in the history of broadcasting.” Those sentiments were echoed again when Eyes on the Prize was re-broadcast in the fall of 2006, attracting a new generation of viewers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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