AMERICAN MASTERS “James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket”
The life, works and beliefs of the late writer and civil rights activist are recounted: what it is to be born black, impoverished, gifted, and gay in a world that has yet to understand that “all men are brothers.” James Baldwin tells his own story in this emotional portrait. Using rarely-seen archival footage from nine different countries, the film melds intimate interviews and eloquent public speeches with cinéma vérité glimpses of Baldwin and original scenes from his extraordinary funeral service in December 1987. His close friends and colleagues — even critics — illuminate the narrative, among them writers Maya Angelou, Amiri Baraka and William Styron, plus entertainer Bobby Short. Originally broadcast August 1989, AMERICAN MASTERS presents this special encore broadcast 25 years after Baldwin’s death and 50 years after the historic March on Washington and publication of his bestselling essay The Fire Next Time. 90 minutes.
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James Baldwin in 1965, drinking tea from a samovar in Istanbul, Turkey. his home for a total of seven years, Istanbul was a refuge from Western racism -- and the place where he finished "Another Country," "Blues for Mister Charlie," and "Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone." Credit: Sedat Pakay
James Baldwin in 1964, against the mosques of Istanbul, Turkey. His home for a total of seven years, Istanbul was a refuge from Western racism -- and the place where he finished "Another Country," "Blues for Mister Charlie," and "Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone." Credit: Sedat Pakay
Co-Writers/Producers Karen Thorsen and Douglas K. Dempsey at work on James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket. 16mm archival footage of Baldwin is threaded up on the Steenbeck editing machine at Maysles Films in NYC. Over 100 separate pieces of archival material from nine different countries appear in the finished film. Credit: Marcel Dumont
Producer-Director Karen Thorsen and Producer Williami "Bill" Miles with Dr. Maya Angelou, project scholar-advisor and on-camera "witness" in "James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket." Credit: DKDempsey