Through A Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People is about contemporary artists probing the recesses of the American dream by interrogating images of stories suppressed, forgotten and lost. The film brings to light previously hidden and largely unknown images by both professional and vernacular African American photographers which add to our understanding of history by providing a window into lives, experiences and perspectives of Black families that is absent from the traditional historical canon.
The documentary draws inspiration from the work of Marlon Riggs, particularly his ground-breaking Tongues Untied, in its assembly of a diverse yet focused community of storytellers to follow and transform a singular journey into a communal journey of discovery and a call to action. Through A Lens Darkly highlights Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, Anthony Barboza, Hank Willis Thomas, Coco Fusco and Clarissa Sligh; in addition to LGBT artists of color, such as Lyle Ashton Harris, Glenn Ligon, Lola Flash and Carla Williams, who are rethinking the archive and its relevance to issues of identity and representation. The film was awarded the 2015 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Documentary Film, an Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Diasporic Documentary, and Fund for Santa Barbara Social Justice Award.
Thomas Allen Harris is the founder and President Chimpanzee Productions, a company dedicated to producing unique audio-visual experiences that illuminate the Human Condition and the search for identity, family, and spirituality. Chimpanzee’s innovative and award-winning documentary films have received critical acclaim at International film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Toronto, FESPACO, Outfest, Flaherty and Cape Town and have been broadcast on PBS, the Sundance Channel, ARTE, as well as CBC, Swedish broadcasting Network and New Zealand Television. Mr. Harris’ experimental videos and installations have been featured at museums and galleries including the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Biennial, Corcoran Gallery, Reina Sophia, London Institute of the Arts and the Long Beach Museum of Art.
The Film Institute at Montclair State is dedicated to the preservation, growth and experience of the art of film. The Films and Filmmakers series is a weekly program that features filmmakers who come to speak about their work and profession. The series, open to both University students and the general public, welcomes audience questions while being a unique forum to hear inside stories from some of the most innovative filmmakers working in the field today.