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Tell About the South
Voices in Black & White

"Tell About the South" Study Guide

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Tell About the South

Nominated BEST DOCUMENTARY SERIES OF THE YEAR 2000 by the International Documentary Association

BOOKLIST "Editor's Choice"

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"A great story about a remarkable group of storytellers told by another remarkable storyteller. A landmark documentary." -- Lewis Simpson, Emeritus Editor, The Southern Review

"A magnificent film!"
-- William Ferris, Director, Center for the Study of Southern Culture

"I enjoyed it from start to finish."
-- Shelby Foote, Novelist and Historian

Tell About the South: Voices in Black and White is a series of three feature length films telling the story of modern Southern Literature, one of the major cultural achievements of our time. The series is divided as follows:

I. Tell About the South - Part One tells the story of modern Southern Literature before World War II. It features William Faulkner, Thomas Wolfe, Zora Neale Hurston, Jean Toomer, Erskine Caldwell, Margaret Mitchell, the Fugitive Poets, the Blues poets and many more. Tell About the South was screened on national PBS in summer, 1998.

II. Prophets and Poets - Part Two of the series tells the story of Southern Literature from 1940 until the Civil Rights Movement. It features Eudora Welty, Richard Wright, Robert Penn Warren, Ralph Ellison, Lillian Smith, Flannery O'Connor and many more. Prophets and Poets premiered at the Virginia Festival of the Book in March, 1999.

III. Let Freedom Ring - Part Three of the series tells the story of Southern Literature from the Civil Rights Movement until the present. It features Walker Percy, Alice Walker, William Styron, Ernest Gaines, Reynolds Price, Alex Haley, Margaret Walker, Lee Smith, Larry Brown, Clyde Edgerton, Pat Conroy and many more. Let Freedom Ring premiered in February 2000.

Since the 1920's, when William Faulkner and Thomas Wolfe made their indelible marks on the American literary scene, the South has produced far more than its share of major literary figures. A central question posed by the film is: How did the poorest, least educated, most racially troubled region in the country produce so many first-rate writers. And how does it continue to do so?

Within the South's unique historical context, Tell About the South: Voices in Black and White explores the growth and interrelationship of white and African-American writers. The literature of the South is the creation of both black and white voices, and the history of Southern literature is one of the most compelling tales of cultural diversity of our time.

Writers who are spotlighted in the series include William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, Thomas Wolfe, Jean Toomer, Robert Penn Warren, Richard Wright, Flannery O'Connor, Eudora Welty, Erskine Caldwell, Ralph Ellison, Walker Percy and many others.

Tell About the South features interviews with most of the greatest contemporary Southern writers, including William Styron, Eudora Welty, Shelby Foote, Alice Walker, Reynolds Price, Ernest Gaines, Pat Conroy, Nikki Giovanni, Wilma Dykeman, Mary Lee Settle, Rita Dove, Margaret Walker, George Garrett, Willie Morris and many more. In addition, some of the nation's most pretigious scholars have contributed their insights to the project, including Henry Louis Gates, William Ferris, John Hope Franklin, Louis Rubin, Cleanth Brooks, Mary Helen Washington, Thadious Davis, Lewis Simpson, Fred Hobson and Michael Kreyling.

Narrated by former Poet Laureate, Rita Dove, Tell About the South: Voices in Black and White has been termed "one of the greatest films about literature ever made" by public television viewers and educators throughout the nation.

Part Two of Tell About the South, Prophets and Poets, is now available via streaming and download, as well as on DVD. View the trailer below, and click on Watch Film to rent or download the film. And look for Parts One and Three, coming soon.


Click here to order Tell About the South.

TEACHERS: Our Study Guide for Tell About the South is now available online!

 This film is made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding provided by the Kentucky Humanities Council, North Carolina Humanities Council, Southern Humanities Media Fund, South Carolina Humanities Council, Tennessee Arts Commission, Tennessee Humanities Council, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and The Von Waveren Foundation.

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