“Sermons and Sacred Pictures: the life and work of Reverend L.O. Taylor”
29 minutes, Color and B&W, sound, 1989
An experimental documentary on Reverend L.O. Taylor, a Black Baptist minister from Memphis, Tennessee who was also an inspired filmmaker with an overwhelming interest in preserving the social and cultural fabric of his own community in the 1930′ s and ‘ 40’ s . I combine his films and music recordings with my own images of Memphis neighborhoods and religious gatherings.
Taylor photographed and filmed businesses and schools in the black community, trips to the National Baptist Convention, baptisms, funerals, social events, and individuals in the quiet dignity of their everyday lives. Over the years he compiled an extraordinary record of black life in the South before the Civil Rights movement captured the attention of the nation. Sermons and Sacred Pictures combines Rev. Taylor’s black-and-white films and audio recordings with color images of contemporary Memphis neighborhoods and religious gatherings. Commentary by his widow and others who knew him forms an intertwined narrative focusing on Rev. Taylor as a pioneering documentarian and social activist. Taylor emerges as a man of humor, piety and intelligence, vibrantly involved in the community he loved.
Supported by a Pioneer Fund Grant for Emerging Documentary Filmmakers and a Film Arts Foundation Development Grant.
“Sermons and Sacred Pictures has a magical quality….It brings to life the work of Rev.. Taylor through his community filmmaking efforts. The film in turn affirms African-American identity and spirit.” Elaine Charnov, Margaret Mead Film Festival
“Viewers will be fascinated by this half hour documentary…among the highlights of the Margaret Mead Film Festival.” J. Hoberman, Village Voice
Screenings and Festivals include:
Museum of Modern Art, New York (1989 and 2015)
“Best Short Documentary” 1989 Athens (Ohio) Film Festival
CINE Golden Eagle
Margaret Mead Film Festival
Robert Flaherty Film Seminar
American Anthropological Association honoree, 1991
Black Cultural Expo (Memphis) honoree
National Education Film Festival Award
“Best Documentary” Sinking Creek Film Festival, Nashville
WKNO Memphis, WYBE Philadelphia
In the library collections of: Duke, Los Angeles Public Library, Memphis State University, Newark Public Library, Northwestern, New York University, Reed College , Stanford and Temple