While the filmmaker hits the expected high points -- Josephine Baker (below), James Baldwin (further below), Richard Wright -- he also includes a lot more examples of lesser lights whose interesting stories and thoughtful musings add much to this history of Black ex-pats in Paris.
And, yes, as certain reviews have pointed out, the documentary jumps all over the place, back and forth from person to person, time period to time period. Yet what it has to tell us is so worth hearing (and seeing) that TrustMovies certainly did not mind these travels.
My least favorite sections are given to some music-and-poetry improvisations that seemed to me a bit puerile, yet whenever that poet speaks of his experiences and philosophy, the movie immediately gets back on track. (That's poet James Emanuel, left, with saxophonist Chansse Evans, below.)
We learn about everyone from famous 19th Century playwright Victor Séjour to jazz musician Sidney Bechet, the famous Bricktop club, mystery writer Chester Himes and especially the still-going-strong sculptor/poet/novelist Barbara Chase-Riboud (below), whose novel Sally Hemings became a kind of touchstone for the continuing American hypocrisy regarding slavery and its history.
Of special note (among a lot that's already pretty special) is famous subway graffiti artist known as Quik (below), who tells us of his first trip to Europe and what happened on his first morning out and about in (I think it was) Amsterdam.
Even if there is information you will already have known present in the documentary, much of this is well worth recalling, and what and who you will not have known about should make the film a must-see for anyone interested in Paris, history, and Black lives and culture -- then and now.
From First Run Features and running 86 minutes, Myth of a Colorblnd France opened this weekend in virtual theaters across the country. Click here to see where and how you can view the film.