Honoring the Legacy of Author Toni Morrison



my grandfather bragged all the time that he had read the Bible and it was illegal in his life Tory ultimately I knew that words have power I wanted as many people who could hear my voice to understand the importance of our work get people to trust and go this is something safety and then hit him with Toni Morrison one of the early reviews says she's got a great talent one day she won't limit it to only writing about black people like really it's limiting for her to write about black people people began to by Toni Morrison and then we began to teach her and as a consequence they had to pay attention don't you just stick them to death for being late with a black writer I prefer it oh I'm tired of people asking the question wow that that that's powerful stuff that's from Toni Morrison the pieces I am we are pleased to be joined by timothy greenfield sanders a producer and director of this wonderful film well it's great to have you thank you why Toni Morrison why not why not certainly you know Toni's probably one of the greatest artists of our time and that's kind of an artist with a capital A in addition she and our friends for 38 years how so I photographed you have a long career as a photographer and I photographed Toni in 1981 she came to my studio in the East Village and we became friends at that moment and I started do book covers for her and eventually she was very much part of my life I did a whole series of films on identity starting with the blacklist which was on HBO and Toni was the inspiration for that so Toni Morrison I mean people identify her Oprah you know oh wow she's great right who else is Toni Morrison that's what's important about the film that that toni is more than just the Nobel Prize winning writer oh that oh my god she was a very important editor at Random House really creating a lot of the the books and the and the kind of conversation around black writes in the 60s late 60s and 70s she was a single mother of two children she was a professor at various colleges and eventually at Princeton where she started the Atelier so it's a you know it's not just Toni the writer it's really this life and at 88 what a life what she like these days she's always funny with when I'm with her I mean I think what's comes through in the film is how funny Toni is I mean people think of her as as tremendously serious and what she writes about is tremendously serious but there's a person there as well and that person is very full of humor and kind and you'll see it in the film you know it's I think what comes through in the film is that our friendship and trust are there so that Toni is the person I know her to be in the film when you said to Toni Morrison I want to do this she said she said I'll think about it which I knew was a good sign because she could very easily have just said I don't want to do this it's not for me to do I don't want to do it but she said I'll think about it and I think she she trusted me enough to do it that way that was a big deal for me and you know we started this about four years ago in the planning stages raising the money getting to the point where we could do interviews and finally got into Sundance it became a big deal yeah and by the way our friends at the Montclair Montclair film through the Montclair Film Festival we're taping this program on the 9th of May and in fact tomorrow night it's gonna be one of the closing films of this wonderful festival at Montclair Film let me ask you this you said interviews you interviewed lots of folks such as well for the film yes Angela Davis Walter Mosley Sonia Sanchez Oprah Paula Giddings fair fair Griffin Hylton Ailes Fran Lebowitz they don't want to talk about tonymont all about Tony these are all people who are either friends for hers for a long time or Toni Morrison scholars for people who don't understand I mean you talked about why she was important as an editor and doing so many other things how courageous was Toni again see the film how courageous was she to do what she did when she did it and how she did it she's loaded I know toni is a pivotal figure in our culture and I think that she is someone who was in the forefront she first as an editor where she really put out a lot of books that were important they wouldn't have gotten scene without Toni pushing back on against a lot of middle-aged white guys absolutely I mean she was at Random House in a very white she talked about the film it's very funny but but you know more than that I think there was there there's a kind of grandness about her and a fearlessness that that comes through in the film that you're just in awe of her and and what she stands for it's she's a very encouraging figure when you see the film your work your photography mmm when did you well yeah you fell in love with photography when I fell in love at the tog raphy but I was in film school I went to the American Film Institute in Los Angeles in the 70s and I was hired by the school or 25 look at some of your shots well see ya Maxim Ellen DeGeneres I'm sorry I interrupt you guys no I was I was started out taking portraits for the school of the visiting dignitaries people like Betty Davis and Alfred Hitchcock and even my Bergman all came to the school after we'd seen their work and I remember leaning down to photograph Betty Davis from below and she said what the f are you doing shooting from below you don't shoot from below and don't walk shots and she said but if you can drive a car young man I'll teach you about photography and she for a week I drove her around Hollywood and we would talk about kind of the great stars like George Worrell who would photographed her at least kind of great photographer stars why her face was a certain way and the light that hitted this way and I'm just sort of driving around in my 54 4 with Betty Davis telling me about portraiture and and I fell in love with photography at that point really dana Davis Betty Davis and to make it worse Alfred Hitchcock said to be a young man your lights are in the wrong place come to the studio and I'll introduce you to some good lighting people so I learned kind of at the feet of these you know mentors really for me unbeliev I thought I know because I read the material but that is you had an eye I have they must have seen that I had something even if you did yeah well I think I had an eye of some sort and I had a kind of answer and charm I guess as well but they saw something in me that I didn't know I had they had two of you still got a lot of charm here on public broadcasting do you mind if I let folks know again about the film please the film is called Toni Morrison the pieces I am the producer director we are honored to have right here is timothy greenfield sanders and we thank you so much and encourage everyone to check out this film thank you very much great we're at the Tisch wnet studio here in the heart of New York City be right back one on one with Steve Adubato has been a production of the caucus educational corporation celebrating over 30 years of broadcast excellence this special edition of one on one with Steve Adubato was brought to you from the Tish wnet studios at Lincoln Center funding has been provided by New Jersey sharing Network adler aphasia center horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey United Airlines the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Guarani Institute for government and leadership at think Peters University and by angle would help transportation provided by air Brook limousine serving the metropolitan New york-new Jersey area

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