Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am REVIEW

Directed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders (The Black List, Lou Reed: Rock and Roll Heart), a friend of Toni Morrison’s for over 35 years, the film premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

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Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ documentary on the iconic Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am is a modern day masterpiece. The documentary jumps right into it explaining the impact of Toni Morrison. The documentary features interviews with Angela Davis, Hilton Als, Fran Lebowitz, Walter Mosley, Sonia Sanchez, Farah Griffin, and Oprah Winfrey, who turned Morrison’s novel “Beloved” into a feature film. They all speak on Morrison like she’s a superhero in the Marvel Universe which is how she should be spoke of. Morrison commitment to writing books on black culture really has inspired and gave strength to some of our leaders in the community today. Two minutes into the film, she’s makes a voice appearance talking about her family and really how the foundation of her legacy was born.

Documentaries can often lose the viewers attention with so much information not being received in multiple ways. Some documentaries just stay the same throughout the whole duration film. It could lose the viewers attentions with bad editing. Greenfield and his editing team do a great job keeping the viewers intrigued and excited for next piece of information throughout the film. They did exceptional job of archiving photos, footage, and interviews from Morrison back in the 1950s to the present. This creates a great story line for younger viewers like myself to see the totality of her work.

Photo Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures/ Film by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

My favorite parts about the film is when Morrison talks about her time at Howard: first as a student, where she faced segregation outside and inside the black community; and then as a teacher, where she began developing her sense that fiction writing should be an act of empathetic imagination, not a journal of personal experiences. It really makes you appreciate the people who paved the way for us to have a better life and more opportunities to succeed. She fought for black voices to be more mainstream. Which was important because we are the trendsetters in society. When you look at music industry, pop stars go to hip hop stars for features to increase their music sales. Jordan’s are currently the highest selling shoes because we made it great.

The last twenty minutes of film touch on Toni Morrison accolades. Greenfield-Sanders’ panel explains how novels like The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song Of Solomon and the Beloved trilogy really changed literature for black writers. Toni Morrison challenged black writers to be fearless and to tell their truth.

Photo Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures/ Film by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

Toni biggest critics will never consider her one of the greats until she broadens her work to include more white characters. Which is honestly one of the most ridiculous criticism. They are many revered white writers in history that don’t have black characters or only speak negatively on black characters but nobody told them to broaden their work.

Greenfield-Sanders gives us a great experience and information on Toni Morrison on this documentary. The documentary covers enough ground by the closing credits that people who didn’t know about Toni Morrison before watching the film, will feel comfortable teaching others about her legacy.

Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am Trailer:

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