Kay Meek Center
DOXA Documentary Film Festival’s Motion Pictures Film Series is very happy to present Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack’s Maya Angelou And Still I Rise. The screening will be preceded by a spoken word performance by local poet and activist, Jillian Christmas.
The life and times, and most importantly the art, of Maya Angelou is given expansive coverage in Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack’s film biography. Made over the course of four years, before her death in 2014, Still I Rise traces the writer-performer’s life from the time she and her brother Bailey were sent to Stamps, Arkansas, to live with their grandparents. From early stints as a singer, dancer, and actress, Angelou found her true calling through a chance meeting with Random House publishers Jules and Judy Feiffer, who convinced her to put her stories down on paper. The result was I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, a book that vaulted her into the first rank of American writers.
Ms. Angelou’s work in the civil rights movement and ties to Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and fellow writer James Baldwin, made her work and politics inseparable. But throughout her remarkable life, whether she was on Sesame Street or delivering a poem during a presidential inauguration, she remained defiantly herself, a strong, proud artist with a voice that would not be silenced.
“Through a rich selection of archival material, directors Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack trace the traumas and triumphs of an extraordinary life, a trajectory that Angelou explored in seven autobiographies, beginning with the career-making I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. The filmmakers illuminate Angelou’s political engagement, including her work with Martin Luther King and years as a journalist in Ghana…” – The LA Times
“ . . a nuanced portrait of a woman who owned both the joy and pain of her life and poured all of it into her writing in an effort to liberate herself and others. This is a revelatory exploration of Angelou, a rebel who relished defying those who wanted to confine her in a box.” – Winston-Salem Journal
“What Coburn Whack and Hercules do so well is capture Angelou’s power and elegance, which seems to have increased as she got older. An important figure throughout the 60s, in the 70s and 80s she developed into a maternal figure for black America, ushering in the period of Oprah and black female empowerment. It’s that longevity and creative drive that the film celebrates. No hagiography, it paints a portrait of a life lived to the full and dedicated to being true to oneself.” – The Guardian