A Choice of Words: Inspired by Gordon Parks explores the enduring legacy of photographer, writer, composer, activist and filmmaker, Gordon Parks, and spotlights his visionary work and its impact on the next generation of artists. The film debuts Monday, November 15 (10:00-11:30 p.m. ET/PT), commemorating Gordon Parks birthday (November 30) and will debut on HBO and be available to stream on HBO Max.
For decades, Gordon Parks brought the human struggle for dignity, justice, and the alienation of the Black community out of the shadows and to middle America on the pages of LIFE magazine from 1948 to 1972. As LIFE’s first Black photographer, his camera became an instrument of change – “a weapon” as he called it – to challenge the systems of racism and poverty – and to empower Black Americans with images that conveyed honor, resilience, and beauty. Directed by John Maggio (HBO’s “Mr. Saturday Night”), the feature documentary is executive produced by Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean and Alicia Keys.
The life and work of Gordon Parks remains strikingly relevant today. A Choice of Words: Inspired by Gordon Parks explores the power of images to inspire a new generation to work for social change. Through the lens of three contemporary photographers, we see Gordon’s legacy come to life. Devin Allen whose photograph “Baltimore Uprising” of the Freddie Gray protests was featured on the cover of Time Magazine; LaToya Ruby Frazier who for five years followed the Flint, Michigan water crisis and most recently photographed Breonna Taylor’s family for Vanity Fair; and Jamel Shabazz whose photographs on the streets of New York form a visual history of the hip hop era while simultaneously presenting affirming images for his community.
Other interviewees reflecting on Parks’ lasting impact include: Jelani Cobb, staff writer The New Yorker; Anderson Cooper, journalist and friend of Parks; Ava DuVernay, filmmaker; Nelson George, writer and filmmaker; Kareem Abdul Jabbar, writer activist; Spike Lee, filmmaker; Khalil Muhammad, historian and professor at Harvard Kennedy School; Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; Richard Roundtree, actor; Michal Raz-Russo, former associate curator, The Art Institute of Chicago; and Darren Walker, president Ford Foundation.
A Choice of Words: Inspired by Gordon Parks also features a compelling overview of the Black American experience as told through Parks’ own work and traces America’s Civil Rights movement as portrayed through his lens. From his prolific, photographic series of everyday Black Americans, his decades of magazine work, to composing music, writing memoirs and novels, to directing “Shaft” in 1971, Parks was a multifaceted trailblazer.
An official selection of the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival, A Choice of Words: Inspired by Gordon Parks pays homage to a true American legend whose work, by its beauty and import, stands at the pinnacle of socio-historical documentation of the 20th century while also serving as an empowering springboard for contemporary and future artists.
Watch the official trailer for A Choice of Words: Inspired by Gordon Parks.