EXCLUSIVE: Magnolia Pictures has acquired North American rights to director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, an uplifting documentary chronicling the vibrant life and compelling works of the legendary storyteller who in 1993 became the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize.
In addition to Nobel Laureate Morrison, the film features conversations with Hilton Als, Angela Davis, Fran Lebowitz, Walter Mosley and Sonia Sanchez, as well as Oprah Winfrey, who adapted Morrison’s 1987 novel Beloved into a 1998 feature film directed by the late Jonathan Demme.
Magnolia is aiming for a theatrical release before year’s end. The Pieces I Am, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, will stream on Hulu (which just acquired its second Sundance documentary, news that Deadline just broke). The film will make its exclusive U.S. broadcast premiere in late 2020 on PBS as part of the American Masters series.
The documentary acquisition feels like a natural extension of Magnolia’s theatrical success with acclaimed projects I Am Not Your Negro and RBG. Greenfield-Sanders, whose credits include Lou Reed: Rock and Roll Heart, The Black List and The Out List, cited the backdrop of those successes as a major source of excitement.
“Magnolia Pictures is our dream-come-true partner,” Greenfield-Sanders said. “Magnolia brilliantly brought RBG and I Am Not Your Negro to the theater-going-public, and we are excited to screen Toni Morrison: The Piees I Am across the country.”
The Morrison documentary has been praised as an intimate and artful meditation on the life and works of the
novelist who turns 88 this month. Morrison, who emerged from the steel town of Lorain, OH, as a “little black girl” who no one took seriously — which provided major motivation for a restlessly ambitious and creative mind.
Venturing inside Morrison’s riverfront writing room, the docu reflects on race, America, history and the human condition as viewed through the prism of Morrison’s literature and her lifelong deconstruction of the master narrative. The film delves into Morrison bookshelf achievements — among them the novel The Bluest Eye, Sula, and Song of Solomon — as well as her pivotal work as an editor working with iconic African-American literature and her time teaching at Princeton University.
“Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am is an immensely inspirational film about a true pioneer and an essential voice for our time,” Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles said. “Timothy’s film beautifully realizes her journey.”
Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am is a production of Perfect Day Films Inc. in association with American Masters Pictures. The film was produced by Greenfield-Sanders, Johanna Giebelhaus, Chad Thompson and Tommy Walker. Michael Kantor is executive producer for American Masters Pictures. The deal was negotiated by Magnolia EVP Dori Begley and Magnolia SVP Acquisitions John VonThaden with ICM Partners and Curatorial on behalf of the filmmakers.