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Zora Neale Hurston: Jump at the Sun

4.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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(Feb 01, 2009)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The first definitive feature-length biography about Zora Neale Hurston was broadcast on PBS' American Masters series to wide acclaim across America.

Winner: BEST EDUCATIONAL FILM at the International Festival du Film sur l'Arts in Montreal (2009).

Zora Neale Hurston was the Queen of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s. She was one of America's most widely-published novelists in the 1930s, and would eventually become world-famous for her masterpiece novel Their Eyes Were Watching God about a young black woman's search for freedom and identity. Trained as an anthropologist by cultural modernist Franz Boas, Zora traveled the American South and the Caribbean through Guggenheim grants, documenting the culture of ex-slaves, filming them, interviewing them, recording their music and their tales. Her keen ear for dialect and her ability to render black speech into readable dialogue endeared her to many loyal readers, both black and white. Her name was a common by-line in magazines of the 1940s, reflecting the conservative beliefs she had acquired growing up in Eatonville Florida, the first all-black city in America. Her politics of positive self-help and accommodation made her enemies with Northern black intellectuals who wanted black writers to fight for their race. With her writing in a tail-spin, she struggled to protect her reputation from a scandal over trumped-up charges she abused two young Harlem boys. Disturbed by the false allegations, she moved back to the comfort of her native Florida in the 1950s, where the fight for Civil Rights and integration was beginning to take center stage. Her voice in support of the individual was overwhelmed by the urgent needs of the black majority for racial equality. She would eventually die in poverty in a small Florida beach town, no longer published nationally, fishing her days away while writing a column for a local newspaper. Black women writers eventually resurrected her, and interest in her work continues to climb.

This dvd is for home use. Schools, libraries and museums must contact California Newsreel for a version with public performance rights. This version carries a verbal and visual WARNING at the beginning and end of the film.

Review

"A fully rounded, intriguing account of an exuberant, independent woman who, in the words of her mother, refused to hide her gleam." --Chicago Tribune

"Does a fine job outlining Hurston's life and her near miraculous achievements, drawing on an unusually impressive and interesting group of talking heads." --New York Times

"An exhilarating portrait of an exhilarating woman." --Newsday

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: S. Epatha Merkerson, Kim Brockington, Marceline Hugot, Kristy Andersen
  • Directors: Sam Pollard
  • Format: Full Screen, NTSC
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    G
    General Audience
  • Studio: PBS American Masters & Bay Bottom News
  • DVD Release Date: February 1, 2009
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001QX49MU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,725 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Zora Neale Hurston: Jump at the Sun" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B. B. News on January 29, 2009
Full disclosure: I produced this film. It took me 18 yrs. to bring it to fruition. Why, you ask? Because I and my fellow filmmakers wanted this film to be perfect. And perfection takes time. This is not a Youtube video (although we like those Youtube videos), it is a 84-minute masterpiece. It is an entertaining study of a complex woman, designed to not only simplify her story so she can reach a wide audience, but also to bring her to life. I hope you enjoy the film.
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I used this video last year when I was teaching Their Eyes Were Watching God. I used it as a way to give some spark to a lesson about her life. The video really helps the class understand the time period she lived in as well as her own influence on society. I had taped it when it aired on ch 13 but am about to buy it because I lost it. Absolutely worth it.
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Congratulations to Kristy Anderson and the producers of this excellent documentary. I found it to be highly engaging, superbly researched, and artfully filmed- truly a masterpiece! As a Hurston scholar and educator, I appreciate the diligent research and quality production that characterize this film. Hurston's life and works are illuminated through lively narration, archival film footage, insightful interviews with Hurston's friends, and commentary from renown Hurston scholars.
This award-winning documentary not only fills a void in available biographical films on Hurston, it sets the standard for any that follow. - Virginia Lynn Moylan, author of Zora Neale Hurston's Final Decade.
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This film highlighted Zora's amazing life and creative perspectives. I enjoyed the ability to hear from interviewees that actually knew her and spoke about her artsy contributions to the world.
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