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Zora's Roots
Zora's Roots
Actor: .
Director: Tom Lowe
Genres: Drama, Television, Documentary
UR     2008     1hr 0min

This program examines the life of author and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston. The film follows Hurston, best known for her novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, to the subtropical paradise that shaped her childhood and he...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: .
Director: Tom Lowe
Genres: Drama, Television, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Drama, Television, Biography
Studio: Pbs (Direct)
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 05/27/2008
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 1hr 0min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

American Literature Teacher Gives This Bio TWO THUMBS UO
A. Walker | 06/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I teach 11th Grade American Literature, and one of our in class novels is "Their Eyes Were Watching God". I've seen every Zora Hurston biography that I could possibly find, and this film is absolutely the BEST. Unlike the recent PBS American Experience bio, the personal interviews and antecdotes in Zora's Roots paint an engaging, fascinating, and entertaining picture of this famous author. I highly recommend it to any literature teacher."
A perfect item for Black History Month
Jeffery Mingo | Homewood, IL USA | 06/04/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I knew Zora was impressive, but I didn't know she was the first Black student to attend Barnard. I knew she traveled, but I never knew how much of the North American Black diaspora she'd seen. The work never uses the term "anti-classist" or "anti-elitist." Still, it comes through how much Zora was willing to embrace the have-nots of society.

Having said all that, they do point to questionable matters. They quote her saying, "I felt as good as the first time you realize you have pubic hair!" They do not shy away from her potentially strange disapproval of the 1954 "Brown v. Bd. of Ed." decision. They allude to how all of her romantic relationships seemed to have been terribly short-lived.

Oftentimes, people equate the present with the past to get others interested. A recent documentary on Walt Whitman showed drawings of New York City in the 1800s and juxtaposed them with video of that city today, for example. Well, on that note, Zora Neale is a lot like Whoopi Goldberg. Both women were highly celebrated, but highly controversial. Both women had some foot-in-mouth concerns. Both women made statements that seem highly contrary to most Blacks' positions on civil rights and racial justice.

The work has a diverse group of interviewees. Unlike many documentaries where only one biographer is seen, it felt like every ZNH biographer was seen here. Too, they showed living people who knew the author, so you get the sense of what she would have looked like had she lived longer. The reenactments done here weren't so cheesy as to be grating on yuh nerves. They chose a dark-skinned actor to portray Langston Hughes. I love when Black actors of any hue can get work. However, LH prided himself on being part-Native American. He was noticeably light-skinned. I think that's why biracial Daniel Sunjata was chosen to play him in "Brother to Brother." So this documentary does skew actual history to a small extent.

I think this work does say ZNH was buried in an unmarked grave. However, I always got the sense that she died penniless and unknown. This work suggests that she died as a retired teacher who was not poverty-stricken. It showed a man who knew that keeping her paperwork around was important.

This might be a perfect tool for encouraging young, Black girls who want to be writers or work for the stage. It's also an ideal viewing tool for Black History Month."
ZORA'S ROOTS-DVD Documentary
A. Y. Tyler | Central Florida | 01/23/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Well-written Documentary describing the stages of Zora Neale Hurston's Life. The director, Tom Lowe, chose 5 women from teen to mature to portray Zora's life. The artistic blending of scenery, music and narration creates a story for all ages. This should be available for sale at the [ASIN:B001690X5G Zora's Roots]Annual January Festival in her hometown of Eatonville, FL.
-AYT in Kissimmee (the 5th and oldest Zora!)"