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It hasn’t quite sunk in as yet. Two weeks ago we had the world premier of Beauty In Truth in London. The event turned into so much more than a screening. The hunger to see Alice and our film was evident in two sold out screenings. 1,800 people roared, clapped and laughed as they watched the film and later heard Alice speak during the Q&A.
We have been overwhelmed with incredible heartfelt responses from audience members who attended the event. We are posting many of these comments on twitter as well as our Facebook page, Alice Walker Film As a result of the wide scale publicity we received, I was asked to write a blog for the U.K’s leading television newspaper, Broadcast. Here it is.
This was no ordinary film premier. How could it be when the icon that is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Color Purple Alice Walker, comes to town for the world premier of a feature documentary on her life and art.
Alice Walker: Beauty In Truth had its world premier at Queen Elizabeth Hall on March 10th as part of a 3 day Women of the World (WOW) festival at the Southbank. The vision of Jude Kelly OBE, the festival brings together women from all over the world for a vibrant gathering, celebrating International Women’s Day.
Producer Shaheen Haq and I couldn’t think of a better way to unveil our film. We wanted our first audience to be diverse and reflective of Alice Walker’s universal appeal. We couldn’t have imagined in our wildest dreams what would unfold as soon as soon as the announcement was made.
Within three days, and with no advance publicity the screening sold out– just word of mouth and our own social media networks. Distressed people rang the Southbank for tickets, our company Kali Films was inundated with pleas and requests for comps. We suggested to WOW, why not do a second screening. They went for it and that screening too sold out. Talk about a hot ticket. The hunger to see Alice Walker was palpable and we understood perfectly why this would be so.
Alice Walker’s extraordinary story is one of triumph against all odds. Born in a paper-thin shack on a plantation in Georgia in the Deep South, she was the eighth child of a sharecropper family. As her older brother recalls in the film, “baby Alice used a twig to write in the dirt” while her mother picked cotton.
Alice Walker talks about being forced to sit at the back of a bus as she left home for college. She vowed then and there that she would do everything within her power to change the system of racist apartheid.
Her adult life unfolds during some of the most turbulent years of cultural and political shifts in North America. Hearing Martin Luther King speak while a student, Alice Walker’s intimate involvement in the civil rights movement was inevitable. Always breaking taboos, Walker fell in love and married a white civil rights lawyer. They lived in Mississippi where interracial marriage was illegal. “I did it because it was illegal. How dare they tell me I can’t marry someone I want to marry.”
Beauty In Truth is first time Alice Walker has given unprecedented access to herself as well as her personal archive of photographs and journals, making it possible to create an unparalleled portrait of her indelible mark on contemporary culture.
I could not have been more delighted with the audience response to the film at the film’s world premier. 1,800 people roared, clapped and screamed as Walker and I stepped out and onto the stage. As someone said, “It was like being at a rock concert”. After the agony of raising funding from 16 different funders over the last 4 years and crowd sourcing to raise the final $55k, I am allowing myself to glide into a filmmaker’s heaven.
Writer | Director | Producer