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Winner of the first-ever Library of Congress / Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film, Flannery is the lyrical, intimate exploration of the life and work of author Flannery O’Connor, whose distinctive Southern Gothic style influenced a generation of artists and activists. With her family home at Andalusia (the Georgia farm where she grew up and later wrote her best known work) as a backdrop, a picture of the woman behind her sharply aware, starkly redemptive style comes into focus. Including conversations with those who knew her and those inspired by her (Mary Karr, Tommy Lee Jones, Lucinda Williams, Hilton Als and more), Flannery employs never-before-seen archival footage, newly discovered personal letters and her own published words (read by Mary Steenburgen) alongside original animations and music to examine the life and legacy of an American literary icon.
Not Rated, 97 mins
Flannery O’Connor was recently the subject of a provocative article by Paul Elie in The New Yorker, in which he quotes personal letters, and other writings, to question her attitudes on race. Just a few weeks earlier, New York Times critic Wesley Morris included O’Connor’s work as an example of “Art That Confronts and Challenges Racism.’’ While the context of this debate is certainly timely, it is not a new discussion. We recommend viewing this film alongside this response to Elie published in The Bitter Southerner, which offers a more in-depth context for the conversation of O’Connor and race, including Alice Walker’s 1975 essay, “Beyond the Peacock: The Reconstruction of Flannery O’Connor.”