The Truth About Alice Walker
- Published: 15 February 2014
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Film-maker Pratibha Parmar has created a visually stunning and powerful documentary on the extraordinary life of her close friend and groundbreaking author Alice Walker, writes Katrina Fox.
She was the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for her novel The Color Purple in 1983. Yet Alice Walker came under fire from the black community when the book was published a year earlier for depicting domestic abuse.
Walker broke race and gender boundaries through her creativity and her political activism. Born on a plantation in America’s deep south, she was spared a life of slavery through the insistence of her mother that Walker have an education.
The story of her life – her struggles and achievements – is told in a compelling documentary by filmmaker Pratibha Parmar, who has known Walker for over 20 years. Unlike an ordinary talking heads documentary, Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth is a colourful and breathtaking cinematic experience.
“I wanted the film to be like a painting or a poem,” Parmar says in an interview (see below). She worked with talented graphic designers and composers to lift the words of Walker’s 30-plus creative works that span fiction, non-fiction and poetry off the page and bring them to life.
Through interviews with Walker herself, Hollywood celebrities including Stephen Spielberg and Danny Glover and other African-American writers Jewelle Gomez and Sapphire, Parmar has created a portrait of a remarkable woman determined to tell the stories of women who had to contend with both deeply ingrained racism of white America as well as black patriarchal culture.
“The film is a contribution to women in history and a cinematic contribution to the role women have played in shaping literary canons in the 20th century,” says Parmar.
Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth is currently screening at international film festivals. Visit http://www.alicewalkerfilm.com/the-film/ for details.