Zora's Roots

Zora's Roots premiered April 2008.

Pearl IngsActress Pearl Ings as Zora Neale Hurston (Credit: Barbara Whittier).
Zora Neale Hurston came from the small, all-black township of Eatonville in Orange County, Florida, and emerged in the Roaring Twenties as the most prolific woman writer of the Harlem Renaissance. In becoming an accomplished author, folklorist and anthropologist, she trod the ivied halls of Barnard College in pursuit of knowledge and the muddy streets of backwoods turpentine camps in pursuit of the rich folkways of her people.

Filmed in high definition, Zora's Roots tells Hurston's story through the people who knew her and the places and events that she brought to the world through her research and writing. The documentary presents the life of this extraordinary woman of letters against the backdrop of the subtropical paradise that shaped her childhood and her life's work—a place to which she returned again and again over the seven decades of her life for research, inspiration and solace. During her lifetime, Hurston also worked as a playwright, wrote for Paramount Pictures and frequently contributed to the Saturday Evening Post and many other major magazines of the time.

Her novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, is now required reading in many school and listed as one of the 100 greatest literary works of all time. Hurston wrote many non-fiction books, as well.

Joe ClarksThe folk songs and tales Hurston heard as a child in Joe Clark's Store influenced her literary work for the rest of her life (Credit: Karen Cully).
An anthropologist extraordinaire, she journeyed to the wilds of Honduras in search of a lost ancient city and lived among the native peoples of Haiti to study the African roots of voodoo. She also filmed Cudjoe Lewis, who in 1928 was the last living African-American to have arrived in America on a slave ship.

Zora Neale Hurston was a talented researcher, natural observer and gifted storyteller. She honed her talents under the direction of pioneering anthropologist Franz Boas before returning to her Florida homeland to glean stories, songs and customs with the learned eye of a social scientist.

 Though in her later life she lost the fame she had achieved and died in poverty, Hurston left a rich legacy of literature and research that still intrigues and inspires readers all over the world. In telling the story of this larger-than-life figure, Zora's Roots provides an intimate look into the life of the remarkable woman whom The Color Purple author Alice Walker called "Genius of the South."

Zora's Roots was produced by Eagle Productions, Inc., with Keri Lowe as Executive Producer.

Funded by:

Florida Arts
Southern Company

Produced by:

Eagle Productions

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