Sermons and Sacred Pictures: the life and work of Reverend L.O. Taylor

29 minutes, Color and B&W, sound, 1989

This film profiles the life and work of Reverend L.O. Taylor, a black Baptist minister from Memphis, Tennessee. In the 1930s and 1940s Rev. Taylor built a reputation as a fiery preacher who laced his sermons with parables, fables and dramatic visual descriptions. In addition to his ministry work, Rev. Taylor was also an inspired photographer and filmmaker with a keen interest in preserving a visual and aural record of the social, cultural, and religious fabric of black American life. He 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 innovatively combines Rev. Taylor's black-and-white films and audio recordings with Sachs 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

"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

Distributed by Center for Media and Independent Learning

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