LORAIN — Toni Morrison is loved, Oprah Winfrey said during the author’s biopic.
Lorain residents would agree, filling Lorain Palace Theater for a special screening of the Nobel Prize winner’s biographical film “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am.”
Morrison, 88, grew up in Lorain and her first book, “The Bluest Eye” is set in the International City. The film follows Morrison’s life via interviews with the critically acclaimed author and her contemporaries, including her childhood in Lorain, through teaching at Princeton University and winning a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993.
The movie premiered at Toronto’s Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and includes images and research from Lorain that editor and producer Johanna Giebelhaus gathered from the Lorain Public Library and Historical Society when she visited in 2017.
“I can’t express to you how deeply I feel ... what an honor it is to tell your aunt’s story,” Giebelhaus told members of Morrison’s family in the audience during a question-and-answer session after the screening. She added later, “I just wanted to thank the town of Lorain. For all of your support of the film; and when I was here in 2017 I was so welcomed by people I met in town, by the historical society, by the Lorain Public Library. They were integral to the vast research and imagery you saw in the film.”
The film was initially part of PBS’ American Masters series before it got into the Sundance Festival. It was picked up by distributor Magnolia Pictures and premiered in New York City and Los Angeles last weekend, before coming to Morrison’s hometown Friday.
Outlining Morrison’s literary career and her impact on race, history and American literature are Oprah Winfrey, Farah Griffin, Sonia Sanchez and nine others interviewed for the film, giving Morrison ample space to speak her own story, Giebelhaus said. Those interviews are accompanied by artworks by African American artists and scored by Kathryn Bostic, the first African American female to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The film itself was brought about by a 40-year friendship Morrison had with director and photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, who sparked the process in 2015.
There is another showing at the Palace Theater 2 p.m. Sunday, with a question-and-answer session to follow the screening. Tickets are $10 and all proceeds benefit the Harrison Cultural Community Centre in Lorain.
The movie also is playing at the Cedar Lee Theatre, 2163 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights, through Thursday.
For more information, including showtimes, visit tonimorrisonfilm.com.
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