First Run Features is proud to present the release of Myth of a Colorblind France on Virtual Cinema, opening nationwide on September 25, 2020.
For more than a century, Black artists, authors, musicians and others have traveled to Paris to liberate themselves from the racism of the United States. What made these African Americans choose France? Why were the French fascinated by the newcomers? And to what extent was and is France truly colorblind?
Alan Govenar’s new documentary investigates these questions and examines the ways that racism has plagued not only Blacks fleeing the United States, but Africans and people of color in France today. The film explores the lives and careers of renowned African Americans who emigrated to Paris, including Josephine Baker, James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Beauford Delaney, Augusta Savage, Barbara Chase-Riboud, and Lois Mailou Jones and includes rare home movie footage of Henry Ossawa Tanner in Paris.
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The myth of a Colorblind France features interviews with Michel Fabre (author of a landmark biography on Richard Wright), psychoanalyst and jazz aficionado Francis Hofstein, poet James Emanuel, historian Tyler Stovall, filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris, graffiti artist Quik, hip hop producer Ben the Glorious Bastard, African drummer Karim Toure, and many more.
Here’s the trailer:
Alan Govenar is a writer, photographer, and filmmaker. He is president of Documentary Arts, a non-profit organization he founded in 1985 to present new perspectives on historical issues and diverse cultures. Govenar has a B.A. with distinction in American Folklore from Ohio State University, an M.A. in Folklore and Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Ph.D. in Arts and Humanities from the University of Texas at Dallas. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and the author of thirty books, including Texas Blues: The Rise of a Contemporary Sound, Stompin’ at the Savoy: The Story of Norma Miller, Extraordinary Ordinary People, Everyday Music, Untold Glory, Stoney Knows How: Life as a Sideshow Tattoo Artist, Deep Ellum: The Other Side of Dallas, Portraits of Community, The Early Years of Rhythm and Blues: The Photography of Benny Joseph, and The Blues Come to Texas: Paul Oliver and Mack McCormick’s Unfinished Book. His book Osceola: Memories of a Sharecropper’s Daughter won First Place in the New York Book Festival (Children’s Non-Fiction), a Boston Globe-Hornbook Honor; and an Orbis Pictus Honor from the National Council of Teachers of English.
Govenar’s film, Stoney Knows How, based on his book by the same title about Old School tattoo artist Leonard St. Clair, was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and was selected as an Outstanding Film of the Year by the London Film Festival. Govenar has also produced and directed numerous films in association with NOVA, La Sept/ARTE, and PBS for broadcast and educational distribution. His documentaries The Beat Hotel, Master Qi and the Monkey King, You Don’t Need Feet to Dance, Extraordinary Ordinary People, and Tattoo Uprising are distributed by First Run Features.
Govenar is also a playwright, whose musicals include Blind Lemon Blues and Lonesome Blues (with Akin Babatunde) and Texas in Paris. His musicals have been performed at the York Theatre (New York), Forum Meyrin (Geneva), Maison des Cultures du Monde (Paris), Zuiderpershuis (Antwerp), Leidse Schouwburg (Leiden), Regentes (Den Haag), and Oude Luxor (Rotterdam).
His artist books and photographs are in collections in the United States and abroad, including The Museum of Modern Art (New York), Victoria and Albert Museum (London, Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), National Portrait Gallery (Washington, DC), and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Photo credit: 1) James Baldwin. 2) Video. 3) Book cover.