2013, 92 minutes, color & b/w, U.S.A.
A rich and lyrical tapestry that is both personal and epic in scope, Thomas Allen Harris’s extraordinary documentary, Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People, is a unique examination of they way black photographers—and their subjects—have used the camera as a tool for social change from the time photography was invented to the present. Using the family album as a rubric, Harris confronts the way images of “blackness” have affected his own family and sense of self-worth as an African American. He also illuminates the ways fellow photographers such as Deborah Willis, Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, Anthony Barboza, Hank Willis Thomas, Lyle Ashton Harris, and Glenn Ligon have challenged popular culture’s definition of “blackness” and “black people.” Through a Lens Darkly is a powerful and elegant engagement with the burden of representation and serves as a testament to the redemptive powers of creativity.
This documentary is part of a larger transmedia project that includes the website/traveling roadshow Digital Diaspora Family Reunion, which invites audiences to share and upload their own family photographs and participate in the creation of a national family archive that can form communities.
Director: Thomas Allen Harris
Screenwriters: Thomas Allen Harris, Don Perry, Paul Carter Harrison
Producers: Thomas Allen Harris, Kimberly Steward, Deborah Willis, Ann Bennett, Don Perry
Cinematographer: Martina Radwan
Editors: Kim Miille, Matthew Cohn
Composers: Vernon Reid, Miles Jay
Associate Producers: Sabrina Hawkins, Sheila Maniar
Production Associates: Sienna Pinterhughes, Natalie Shmuel