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Porgy & Me - In the World of the Gerschwin's Porgy and Bess (Porgy & Me - In der Welt von Gerschwins Porgy and Bess)

Porgy & Me - In the World of the Gerschwin's <I>Porgy and Bess</I>
Scene from "Porgy & Me" (photo © Boomtown Media)

In the (white) world of opera, George Gershwin’s alternately celebrated and controversial opera Porgy and Bess is one of the very few works that takes people of color as its subject. Susanna Boehm's stirring documentary follows the cast of the New York Harlem Theatre on their European tour of Gershwins’ work. As the troupe travels from city to city, attracting stares from startled Austrians, the parallels between the opera and the real life experiences of individual singers are revealed in a series of deeply personal conversations. Growing up poor, with drugs and violence a common experience, the ambition to become an opera singer seemed an impossible dream for many cast members. A sentiment voiced by many is that black singers have to be twice as good as white singers. Terry Lee Cook has been performing Porgy for ten years. But in the black community, the common perception is that Porgy and Bess is a graveyard for singers of color.

Despite the attendant complexities, the music overwhelms. Embedded throughout the film are show-stoppers such as It Ain't Necessarily So, and Summer Time. As timeless as anything penned by Verdi or Puccini, Porgy and Bess is a quintessentially American masterpiece that captures "the passionate battle of African-American artists for recognition, self-realization and equality" in glorious song.
Genre Art, Music
Category Documentary
Year of Production 2009
Director Susanna Boehm
Screenplay Susanna Boehm
Cinematography Philipp Tornau
George Cragg
Bela Brauckmann, Gunter Papperitz
George Gershwin
Cast Terry Cook, Alteouise Devaughn, Jacqueline Echols, Justin Miller, Jolie Rocke Brown, Jermaine Smith, Marjorie Wharton, William Barkhymer
Producers Thomas Grube, Uwe Dierks, Andrea Thilo
Production Company Boomtown Media/Berlin
Runtime 86 min
Format 35 mm, color
Sound Technology Dolby Digital
Festivals Vancouver 2009, Cambridge 2009, Hof 2009, Sao Paulo 2009, Molodist Kiev 2009
With backing from German Federal Film Board, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, German Federal Film Fund

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