Photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders brings his signature portraiture to film with HBO's The Black List: Vol. 3, a compilation of interviews with prominent African Americans including Whoopi Goldberg, United Negro College Fund President Dr. Michael Lomax and Precious Director Lee Daniels.
Like Greenfield-Sanders's photography (see his Please Don't Retouch Me), the film is a series of simple, perceptive portraits. Its subjects are positioned in front of a clean, grey backdrop and speak directly to the camera. "It's as if you could look at my portraits and interview the subject," says Greenfield-Sanders, "They're talking portraits."
Though he's not seen or heard on camera, NPR correspondent and film critic Elvis Mitchell conducts the interviews, examining the contemporary African American experience. The interviewees' candidness, along with the aesthetic simplicity of the film, achieves something strikingly authentic -- more oral history than celebrity interview.
Whoopi Goldberg delivers colorful anecdotes from her childhood and early career; as a kid she believed there would be no black people in the future -- a conclusion she came to from watching science fiction shows at a time when there were few images of African Americans on TV. Until Star Trek, she says, "anything you saw in the future never, ever had any black people."
The Black List: Vol. 3 debuts February 8, 2010 on HBO and continues airing throughout the month. It's part of a multimedia project conceived of by Greenfield-Sanders and Mitchell that also includes The Black List: Volumes One and Two, a book, an educational initiative with the United Negro College Fund and museum exhibits of photographic portraits.