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African American motion picture producers and directors

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Film Director Wendell Harris

Wendell's new movie is "Chameleon Street," about an imposter: a young black man who successfully passed himself off as a surgeon, a Yale Student, a Time magazine journalist, and an attorney. It's based on a true story, and won the 1990 Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize for Best Dramatic Film.


Director and Writer Gordon Parks

Parks directed the early black action film, Shaft. His son, who died in 1979, was also a director. The elder Parks began his career as a photographer for Vogue and Life, and documented difficult aspects of the African American experience. He's just written his memoir, "Voices in the Mirror."


Director Charles Burnett

The African American film director made a number of documentary films; his first widely distributed, commercial film, To Sleep with Anger, stars Danny Glover. Burnett comes from the American South; he's inspired by a lot of the folklore that comes from that region.


Melvin Van Peebles on Taking Control of Black Representation

The African American film director is best known for Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, which added a political dimension to the black action movie genre. Van Peebles says that, unlike his own work, the blaxploitation films that came later were apologies for systems of oppression, not critiques of them. Prior to his career in film, he lived in France as a writer. His new book, coauthored by his son Mario, is called No Identity Crisis.


"Do the Right Thing" Leaves Critics Confused

Spike Lee's new movie, about a neighborhood's response to the murder of a black man, climaxes in a violent ending that many believe sends an ambiguous message about race relations in the U.S. Lee disagrees, and tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that the movie's intent is clear.


The Director of "She's Gotta Have It"

Independent filmmaker Spike Lee's first feature, She's Gotta Have It, has garnered critical adulation and popular success. He joins Fresh Air to discuss his experiences as a black director, having an all-black cast, and making a movie that deals frankly with women's sexual desires.


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