February 6, 2010

HBO Presents The Black List: Volume Three

Portraits © Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

Next Monday, February 8, HBO will present The Black List: Volume 3, a documentary project conceived by photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders (who is white) and film critic Elvis Mitchell (who is black) in which numerous African-American leaders share their "stories and insights on the struggles, triumphs and joys of black life in this country". (The name is a reclamation of the term "blacklist" - in this case it denotes an honor.)

I have not seen either of the first two volumes, though both were well received by critics. Seeing the trailer and a few clips, it would appear Volume 3 also offers what the Washington Post's Tom Shales noted about Volume 1: "This is television that matters, and that very rare thing in current TV, reality that's real. " I would expect nothing less from an interviewer like Mitchell, having recently attended a discussion he had with the Coen Brothers in which he almost got them to take off their masks. 

My guess is that the film will unfortunately be dismissed by most people as something only African-Americans would be interested in, but from what I've gathered these are candid, self-aware, thought-provoking first person accounts that deserve some consideration in the "postracial America" of the Obama era (the same could be said for Chris Rock's Good Hair last year, which also deserved an audience much larger than it received). Here is a preview and list of the interviewees for Volume Three:

The List:

The Black List: Volume 3 premieres Monday, February 8 at 8.30pm ET/PT
Additional clips can be viewed on HBO's YouTube Channel

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