Nov 8-12, 2018

Through A Lens Darkly


Run Time: 92 minutes USA Language: English


An extraordinary examination of the way African American photographers and their subjects have used the camera as a tool for social change, Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People is a powerful study of representation and creativity. Moving poetically between the present and the past, through both vernacular and professional photographers, director Thomas Allen Harris calls attention to images long forgotten and sometimes hidden from sight. The film highlights Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, Hank Willis Thomas, Coco Fusco and Clarissa Sligh in addition to LGBT artists of color, such as Lyle Ashton Harris, Glenn Ligon, and Carla Williams. New York Times critic A.O. Scott commented: “Inspired by the book Reflections in Black (2000), Deborah Willis’s groundbreaking and thorough excavation of a vital and neglected photographic tradition, Mr. Harris’s film is a family memoir, a tribute to unsung artists and a lyrical, at times heartbroken, meditation on imagery and identity. The film is always absorbing to watch, but only once it’s over do you begin to grasp the extent of its ambitions, and just how much it has done within a packed, compact hour and a half.”

Following the screening, stay for the Digital Diaspora Family Reunion Roadshow, hosted by Thomas Allen Harris. Bring along (or watch and learn about) photographs from local photographers and family albums. Since its 2009 launch, DDFR has expanded in response to popular demand for an event that brings people together across age, racial, ethnic and cultural divides and helps to create a stronger sense of community. Images of the photographs and the event will join the DDFR national online archive at

Film Details

Director: Thomas Allen Harris
Cinematographer: Martina Radwan
Screenwriters: Thomas Allen Harris, Don Perry, Paul Carter Harrison
Editors: Kim Miille, Matthew Cohn
Music: Vernon Reid, Miles Jay
Cast: Lyle Ashton Harris, Thomas Allen Harris, Robin Kelly, Hank Willis Thomas, Carrie Mae Weems

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