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Conversations with Roy DeCarava
Directed by Carroll Parrot Blue
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"It starts before you snap the shutter... It starts with your sense of what's important." These are the words of Roy DeCarava, one of the foremost photographic artists of the twentieth century, contributor to the Family of Man exhibit and the first black photographer to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship. These are the words of a man who focuses his lens, sensitivities and conscience on the life, tempo and sensibilities of black people and the contemporary urban environment.

CONVERSATIONS WITH ROY DECARAVA examines his life and work, and features appearances by internationally noted photographer Ansel Adams, photography critic A.D. Coleman, and the executive director of the Studio Museum in Harlem, Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell. It deftly interweaves 108 of DeCarava's black and white stills with a portrait of the artist discussing his life, past struggles, his efforts to foster young black photographers, and the relationship of his work to the black experience in America. DeCarava's unforgettable images have immortalized the jazz world through his photographs of contemporaries Billie Holiday, John Coltrane, Roy Haynes and others.

DeCarava's vision depicts a world of contrasts; a people of power and delicacy, strength and resilience. It's a private vision, publicly expressed through his words, life and work.

"As unpretentious and sensitive as the black artist whose story it so eloquently tells... An important record of a quietly influential life in art."—Suzanne Muchnic, Los Angeles Times

"Roy DeCarava's sensitivity to the urban landscape and its people is vividly portrayed in this award-winning documentary... Highly recommended for academic and public libraries with collections in the arts, photography, and black studies."—Annette Salo, Library Journal

"[An] evocative examination... This 1984 American Film Festival Blue Ribbon Winner combines fast pacing with aurally and visually melded images to enrapture viewers in public libraries, classrooms, and photography groups."—Sue-Ellen Beauregard, Booklist

"[A] provocative and substantial investigation which successfully blends DeCarava's art with his experience as a black photographer... Fascinating document of a unique black photographer and his struggle for professional acceptance and recognition."—EFLA Evaluations

Blue Ribbon Winner, 1984 American Film Festival
Second Prize Winner, 1984 Black American Cinema Awards

28 minutes / Color
Release: 1984
Copyright: 1984

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Study guide available

Subject areas:
African-Americans, American Studies, Biographies, History (U.S.), Photography

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