Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People
New Frontier Film


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

About the Director

Thomas Allen Harris's award-winning films include Vintage—Families of Value, That’s My Face (E Minha Cara), and Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela. His work has screened at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Biennial, Reina Sofia, the Corcoran Gallery, and on PBS, ARTE, and CBC as well as at the Sundance, Toronto, Berlin, Outfest, and FESPACO film festivals. Harris is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Rockefeller Fellowship, and has garnered nominations for several Emmy Awards and an Independent Spirit Award.


1/17/2014 9:00 pm
Yarrow Hotel Theatre, Park City
1/18/2014 12:45 pm
Broadway Centre Cinema 3, SLC
1/19/2014 4:30 pm
Redstone Cinema 7, Park City
1/25/2014 5:30 pm
Holiday Village Cinema 1, Park City