THIRTEEN’s American Masters Series Presents the First Film Biography of Writer/Activist Alice Walker in Honor of her 70th Birthday and Black History Month
Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth premieres nationally Friday, February 7 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings)
Pratibha Parmar’s documentary features new interviews with Walker, Steven Spielberg, Danny Glover, Quincy Jones, Howard Zinn, Gloria Steinem and Sapphire
Preview video and connect with other cultural icons at pbs.org/americanmasters
Writer/activist Alice Walker (b. Feb. 9, 1944) made history as the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her seminal novel The Color Purple (1982), for which she won the National Book Award. THIRTEEN’s American Masters presents Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth, premiering nationally Friday, February 7 at 9 p.m. on PBS in honor of Walker’s 70th birthday and Black History Month. Filmmaker Pratibha Parmar’s new documentary tells Walker’s dramatic life story with poetry and lyricism, and features new interviews with Walker, Steven Spielberg, Danny Glover, Quincy Jones, Gloria Steinem, Sapphire and the late Howard Zinn in one of his final interviews.
American Masters — Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth charts Walker’s inspiring journey from her birth into a family of sharecroppers in Eatonton, Ga. to the present. The film explores Walker’s relationship with her mother, poverty, and participation in the Civil Rights Movement, which were the formative influences on her consciousness and became the inherent themes in her writing. Living through the violent racism and seismic social changes of mid-20th century America, Walker overcame adversity to achieve international recognition as one of the most influential — and controversial — writers of the 20th century. Delving into her personal life, Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth reveals the inspiration for many of her works, including Once (1968), The Third Life of Grange Copeland (1970), Meridian (1976), The Color Purple (1982), In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens (1983), Possessing the Secret of Joy (1992) and Overcoming Speechlessness (2010).
Praised and pilloried, Walker has driven people to express joy as well as anger and ruthless vilification over her art, personal views and global human rights advocacy. As seen in the film, Yoko Ono awarded her the 2010 LennonOno Peace Award for her ongoing humanitarian work. American Masters analyzes these aspects of the self-confessed renegade’s life and career.
“As a filmmaker, one of the deepest desires is to engage the audience in the conversation unfolding on screen. I am thrilled to offer this in Beauty In Truth, where Alice’s openness, warmth and on-screen intimacy reflects our long history of kinship,” said Parmar. “Making Beauty In Truth has been an adventure of discovery and sheer inspiration. I’m so pleased it will have a national audience on American Masters.” Parmar’s past works include feature film Nina’s Heavenly Delights (2006) and the documentary Warrior Marks (1993), based on the book of the same name that she and Walker co-authored.
“Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth is a complex exploration of a pioneering artist and human rights activist that gives audiences a penetrating look at a life lived with passionate commitment,” said Stephen Segaller, vice president of programming for WNET. “Having the American Masters premiere coincide with her 70th birthday is a nice bonus.”
Launched in 1986 by series creator Susan Lacy, American Masters has earned 26 Emmy Awards — including nine for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series since 1999 and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special — 12 Peabodys, an Oscar, three Grammys, two Producers Guild Awards, and many other honors. Now in its 28th season on PBS, the series is a production of THIRTEEN. WNET is the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21, New York’s public television stations, and operator of NJTV. For more than 50 years, THIRTEEN has been a partner with the tri-state community, using its rich resources to inform and inspire the passionate people of New York and the world to better understand and address the issues that challenge our diverse communities.
To take American Masters beyond the television broadcast and further explore the themes, stories and personalities of masters past and present, the companion website (http://pbs.org/americanmasters) offers streaming video of select films, interviews, photos, outtakes, essays, and other resources. American Masters is also seen on the WORLD channel, a 24/7, full-service multicast channel featuring public television’s signature nonfiction documentary, science and news programming, broadcast in nearly two-thirds of the United States.
American Masters — Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth is one of 50 films that form part of Women and Girls Lead, a public media campaign spearheaded by the Independent Television Service, that harnesses the power of documentary film to showcase extraordinary women and girls who are changing the world. The initiative features groundbreaking women like Alice Walker, who refuse to submit to gender stereotypes or compromise her form of artistic expression.
Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth is a Kali Films LTD and Kali8 Productions LLC and American Masters for THIRTEEN production in co-production with Buddhist Broadcasting Foundation and the Independent Television Service and in association with Artemis Rising Foundation. Pratibha Parmar is writer, director and producer. Shaheen Haq is producer. Babeth M. VanLoo, Eve Ensler, Regina Kulik Scully and Deborah Santana are executive producers. Pratibha Parmar, Paul Monaghan and Linda Peckham are editors. Original music composed by Tena R. Clark and Tim Heintz with featured music by Christen Lien. Andy Shallal is associate producer. For American Masters: Susan Lacy is executive producer. Stephen Segaller is executive-in-charge. For Independent Television Service: Sally Jo Fifer is executive producer.
American Masters is made possible by the support of the National Endowment for the Arts and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding for American Masters is provided by Rosalind P. Walter, Anne Ray Charitable Trust, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Rolf and Elizabeth Rosenthal, Jack Rudin, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation, and public television viewers. Funding for Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth is provided in part by National Endowment for the Arts, Ms. Foundation, Berkeley Film Foundation, Rosenthal Family Foundation, Schwab Charitable Fund, Integrated Archive Systems, Inc., Screen South (UK Film Council), and Astrae Lesbian Foundation for Justice.
As New York’s flagship public media provider and the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than 5 million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJTV News with Mike Schneider and MetroFocus, the multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. WNET is also a leader in connecting with viewers on emerging platforms, including the THIRTEEN Explore iPad App where users can stream PBS content for free.
About Women and Girls Lead
Women and Girls Lead is a multi-year public media initiative to focus, educate, and connect citizens worldwide in support of the issues facing women and girls. Combining independent documentary film, television, new media, and global outreach partnerships, Women and Girls Lead amplifies the voices of women and girls acting as leaders, expands understanding of gender equity, and engages an international network of citizens and organizations to act locally and reach out globally. By building a pipeline of some 50 public television documentaries and integrating content from partners across radio, commercial television, and beyond, Women and Girls Lead offers another model for public media to follow in serving its mission in the 21st century, connecting key stakeholders to sustain productive dialogue and participation on the most critical issues facing local communities, the nation, and the world. For more information, visit womenandgirlslead.org.