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Independent Lens: When I Rise


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Editorial Reviews

An inspirational journey toward finding forgiveness within oneself. A gifted black music student at the University of is cast in an opera to co-star with a white male classmate, fueling a racist backlash from members of the Texas legislature. This small-town girl, whose voice and spirit stem from her roots in East Texas, emerges as an internationally celebrated mezzo-soprano and headlines on stages around the world.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Pbs (Direct)
  • DVD Release Date: February 8, 2011
  • Run Time: 73 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004D45NXS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,177 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Andy Orrock VINE VOICE on February 20, 2011
This Independent Lens production by director Mat Hames is as good as documentaries get. It follows the full-circle 50-year arc of triumph by the Texan-born operatic mezzo-soprano, Barbara Smith Conrad. It centers on two periods of her life: 1957, in which she is selected and then unceremoniously dumped as the romantic lead in a UT-Austin production of Dido and Aeneas; and present-day, in which Ms. Smith Conrad has ascended to the pinnacle of her profession and leads a life of international stature from her base in New York City.

Through it all, what resonates is the class and elegance of Ms. Smith Conrad. The legislators and school administrators complicit in the 1957 events come across - without any type of framing by Hames - as weaselly and Neanderthal. In recent years, both the school and the state have worked arduously to reverse the errors of half-a-century past, through official proclamation, awards and teaching partnerships. One revelatory moment: Ms. Smith Conrad reading aloud from 1957 letters maintained by the university. Though one she reads stands up for the decision, others reveal passionate, eloquent support for her. Also notable is the steadfast support of the singer's friends during that period. It says a lot that these are relationships that endure to this day.

The film is granted an even higher level of regalness through the presence of Harry Belafonte, who recalls the events of 1957 (and his role in it) with a crystal clarity despite his 80+ years.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By KnoxKen on February 10, 2011
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This film documents the triumph of character, hard work, talent, and perseverance over racism, bigotry, and smallness of spirit. Barbara Smith Conrad is simply beautiful - both outwardly and inwardly. The story of her determination to "stay her course", remain a student at The University of Texas despite the volatile environment, and conquer the world of opera is an inspiration for anyone who faces difficulty in any worthwhile endeavor, great or small. I wish every young person in America could see this story! The title, "When I Rise", is from the spiritual which begins "In the morning, when I rise, give me Jesus." After seeing this film the words of the song have been in my heart and on my mind all day. This is the story of true nobility. I cannot begin to say enough good things about . . . so I rest until "in the morning when I rise...!"
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By E. Perry on May 7, 2013
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I purchased this for a friend who is an Opera singer whose career is growing. I originally watched this on PBS and loved it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Xavier on March 15, 2012
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"When I Rise"!!! What a deserving title; I enjoyed the history presented and victory accomplished. It is simply amazing what some of the greatest singers had to go through to even get the slightest recognition. Always had to leave the U.S. to be accepted and become famous then return home and be less accepted. Such perserverance beyond belief!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sean-Paulo Dos Santos Sa on July 30, 2013
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First saw this on PBS and had to own it. Amazing story that I had never been aware of. Moving.
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