Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am

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“Ultimately I knew that words have power.” Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’s documentary about Toni Morrison is an exploration of the author’s life story, her values and challenges, and her creative work. The film includes engaging interviews with Morrison, as well as notable peers, colleagues, and admirers such as Hilton Als, Russell Banks, Angela Davis, Walter Mosley, Sonia Sanchez, and Oprah Winfrey.

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We Are Not Done Yet

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“This poem is not a cry for help. This poem is not my broken pieces. And we are not done yet.” In this HBO documentary, a group of veterans and active-duty service members come together to write a collaborative poem and turn it into a stage performance. The film is directed by Sareen Hairabedian and coproduced by Jeffrey Wright and David Holbrooke.

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Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin

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“I’d like us not to be resigned but to be rebellious—I want to see science fiction step over the old walls and head right into the next wall and start to break it down too.” Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin is a crowdfunded documentary directed by Arwen Curry, who was able to collaborate with the late author before her death. The film features interviews with Le Guin, as well as authors including Margaret Atwood, Michael Chabon, Neil Gaiman, and Theodora Goss.

Tom Wolfe: Blood Lines

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This independent documentary film directed by Oscar Corral explores Tom Wolfe’s writing life and his fourth novel, Back to Blood (Little, Brown, 2012), which is set in Miami and focuses on the subject of immigration. Wolfe died at the age of eighty-seven on May 14, 2018.

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold

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“I’ve always found that if I examine something, it’s less scary.” This documentary offers an intimate exploration into the trajectory of Joan Didion’s writing career and her personal struggles. Directed by Didion’s nephew Griffin Dunne, the film features interviews with Hilton Als, Harrison Ford, Vanessa Redgrave, Anna Wintour, and others.

The Last Bookstore

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“I think that the digital age has made print books more popular in a weird way. It’s made everyone come out of the woodwork that really want to see books survive.” This short film directed by Chad Howitt explores the life of Josh Spencer, owner of the Last Bookstore, and what inspired him to open this popular independent bookstore in downtown Los Angeles. 

I Am Not Your Negro

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Based on an unfinished manuscript for a book by James Baldwin that would “tell his story of America through the lives of three of his murdered friends: Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X,” as the opening declares, this Oscar-nominated documentary is directed by Raoul Peck and narrated by Samuel L. Jackson.

Neil Gaiman: Dream Dangerously

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“I want to be remembered as somebody who told good stories.” This documentary follows Neil Gaiman on his last book signing tour and chronicles his youth and successes as an author. Directed by Patrick Meaney, the film features interviews with the late Terry Pratchett, Lev Grossman, Michael Sheen, and others.

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Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women

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“When you think about all her heroines who struggled to curb their temperament and discipline themselves, you get a sense of the writer herself.” Directed by Nancy Porter, this film biography from PBS's American Masters series, offers an intimate portrait of Louisa May Alcott and the influence her novel Little Women continues to have across cultures and generations.

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Four Portraits of John Berger

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The Seasons in Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger is a documentary about art critic, novelist, essayist, painter, and poet John Berger, whose latest essay collection is Landscapes: John Berger on Art (Verso Books, 2016). Cowritten by Ben Lerner and Tilda Swinton, the film was released in August 2016.

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