Thomas Allen Harris’ lush, lovely, loving “Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People” chronicles the role of photography in a 170-year history of the lives of black Americans. While amateur photography is key to the film, professional photographers to whom the film pays tribute include Roy DeCarava, Gordon Parks and Carrie Mae Weems. It’s also a family memoir, an intimate epic weighted with eloquent words. But cultural stereotypes are not neglected in the frames within the frame: montages of demeaning imagery are not limited to caricatures, and include a history of the circulation of photos of lynchings. “Lens” presents a teeming abundance of stirring and often brilliant imagery by African-American artists. 92m. (Ray Pride)
“Through A Lens Darkly” opens Friday, September 19 at Siskel. A trailer is below.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published later this year.