Documentary Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am arrives in theaters

By Marissa Lynch | June 21 2019 | Common ReadsHumanities & Social Sciences

Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am profiles the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of international acclaim, featuring interviews with Morrison herself, Robert Gottlieb, Oprah Winfrey, Angela DavisWalter Mosley, and more. The documentary portrays Morrison in an intimate, human light: examining her life, works, and the philosophies woven throughout the stories she tells.

In the video below, director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders sits down with Meghan Burk of Park City Television to discuss the film and trailer.

Transcript of select clips:

BURK (INTERVIEWER): Congratulations for Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am for being a part of Sundance. This is your fourth time, I understand?

GREENFIELD-SANDERS: My fourth time here as a filmmaker, yes.

BURK: How does that feel?

GREENFIELD-SANDERS: Sundance is still the biggest deal in American for independent filmmakers. A goal of getting into this film festival is something we all have, and we were thrilled to get in. It sets the film apart and says, “Look at this film. It’s good.”

BURK: Tell me about that. Why is your film, your documentary good?

GREENFIELD-SANDERS: Toni Morrison is the greatest writer of the last century, and almost you could say the greatest artist of the last century. It’s just a gigantic life to make a film about. I think the film is good because it shows all of her many, many lives: not just the novelist that we all know, but the editor that she was, a very, very important editor; professor at all the Ivy League colleges—particularly Princeton; and a single mother of two. This is a tremendous life.

BURK: What was it like getting to know Toni Morrison? Everyone has her resume and everything that she’s done, but [what was it like] really digging into that intimate part of her life?

GREENFIELD-SANDERS: I was very lucky because I’ve known Toni for 38 years (next week). Toni came into my studio in 1981 with a pipe and I did portraits of her, and we became friends then. I started to do portraits for her for her books. She really became a very important part of my life, and influential on my career.

BURK: What do you want the big takeaway to be with the audience after they watch the documentary, with her as a whole and just kind of her philosophy?

GREENFIELD-SANDERS: I think you will come away from the film seeing that Toni Morrison is really one of the great thinkers of our time, and you’ll understand why there is so much love for her. As we made the film, we reached out the people [asking] would you do this for the film or that? And everyone was like, “Whatever you want I’m there. I love Toni Morrison, I worship Toni Morrison. She’s so important to all of us.” I think that comes through in the film.


Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am is now playing in select theaters, and will be available on Hulu and broadcast on PBS in 2020.

Watch the full interview from Park City Television

Browse titles by Toni Morrison.

The Source of Self-Regard
Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations
The Source of Self-Regard is a new nonfiction collection by Toni Morrison—a rich gathering of her essays, speeches, and meditations on society, culture, and art, spanning four decades.
$28.95 US
Feb 12, 2019
368 Pages