The Black List

Institute History

  • 2008 Sundance Film Festival


Timothy Greenfield-Sanders and Elvis Mitchell’s beautifully crafted collaboration presents a fascinating series of miniportraits of 20 influential African Americans. This inspirational and varied group of prominent artists, CEOs, politicians, and activists share their individual experiences and viewpoints in regard to societal, familial, and personal identity. Each compelling interview serves as a potent illustration of empowerment in the face of unique limitations and broader obstacles.

The Black List unveils a broad canvas of issues, including the shock waves Bill T. Jones felt from his contemporaries after referring to himself as an artist first and black second, Chris Rock discussing how he believes equality in baseball was only achieved when there were also bad black baseball players in the major leagues, and Vernon Jordon noting that there is a definition of black America, but none for white America. This country’s institutionalized racism is addressed as actor Lou Gossett Jr. speaks about his lack of acting offers after winning his Oscar, and museum curator Thelma Golden recounts how people mistakenly thought she actually only worked for Thelma Golden. These experiences contrast with Toni Morrison’s description of the encouragement she received in her childhood, specifically in not feeling threatened by being a woman.

In blending Greenfield-Sanders’s sleek and elegant portrait photography with Mitchell’s notable conversational acumen, The Black List offers a fresh, immediate discourse for deriving another definition of the word “blacklist.”

— Lisa Viola

Screening Details

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