ELLE (UK)

The legend... TONI MORRISON

A STAGGERING NEW FILM EXPLORES THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ONE OF HISTORY’S MOST ENIGMATIC WRITERS

- INTERVIEW by BECKY BURGUM

You’ve read her books, you’ve gasped at her luminous prose, and you’ve posted her inspiratio­nal quotes on Instagram – but did you know Toni Morrison made the best carrot cake on the East Coast? Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, director of the intimate documentar­y Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am (out 6 March), draws on their 4O-year friendship to reveal a startling new side to the notoriousl­y private late author. ‘Being with Toni was a lot of fun,’ he says. ‘When she gave me permission to make the film, I took the head of the American Masters documentar­y series to her house and the lunch ended with Toni suggesting vodka shots at 2.3Opm. We had a blast.’ The Beloved author, who passed away last August aged 88, never wrote a memoir and turned away many a biographer, but allowed the directorph­otographer to interview her extensivel­y for the film. ‘I first met Toni in 1981, when she came to my studio for a SoHo Weekly News cover portrait. She smoked a pipe (which years later she told me that activist and scholar Angela Davis had got her into) and her confidence was unforgetta­ble. Many portrait sitters are insecure and need guiding through the shoot, but Toni didn’t need any help. She knew who she was.’ Starting from the Nobel laureate’s years as an editor at Random House – which Greenfield-Sanders believes are grossly underappre­ciated – the film offers a lively celebratio­n of her profound impact. In the late 196Os and 197Os, Morrison was responsibl­e for publishing extraordin­ary books by African American authors, including Angela Davis, Toni Cade Bambara and Lucille Clifton. Featuring interviews with the Pulitzer prize-winner herself, along with Angela Davis and Oprah Winfrey, the film offers insight into her personal life, from childhood in the steel city of Lorain, Ohio, to book tours with Muhammad Ali, which all goes to shows as Greenfield-Sanders says, ‘Toni Morrison was the greatest artist of our time.’

 ??  ?? A life in film THE FAMOUSLY PRIVATE AUTHOR AGREED TO BE INTERVIEWE­D FOR THE DOCUMENTAR­Y TONI MORRISON: THE PIECES I AM
A life in film THE FAMOUSLY PRIVATE AUTHOR AGREED TO BE INTERVIEWE­D FOR THE DOCUMENTAR­Y TONI MORRISON: THE PIECES I AM

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK