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Zora Neale Hurston, documentary by Kristen Andersen

When I saw that Google is featuring Zora Neale Hurston today, that triggered bells about my friend and former officemate Kristen Andersen. Kristen is an independent documentary filmmaker who won her first Emmy Award with a film about endangered sea turtles titled “Sea Turtles Last Dance.”

Kristy Andersen, filmmaker
Tampa Bay Times

“Brief Synopsis

A documentary looking at man's role in causing a drastic reduction in all seven sea turtle species, and efforts by environmentalists and scientists to save them. Particular attention is focused on the kemp's ridley, one species for which time is quickly running out.

Cast & Crew
Kristin Andersen
Kristin Andersen
Florida Institute Of Oceanography
University Of South Florida
St Petersburg Junior College
Florida Institute Of Oceanography”

Watching Kristy work, she devoted much time preparing to film, filming, and editing, and a whole lot of time fundraising. Operating as an independent film producer, she had to make all of her resources count. I remember a time when she had assembled a crew to film turtles that required a boat, captain, and technical assistance for sound and camera. While she was in the water along with crew members, an alarm went off on the camera indicating that there was a leak. Everyone had to get back in the boat, and the day was scrubbed while the performed troubleshooting with the equipment. And then of course there were weather delays, etc.

Kristy’s passion turned to her discovering Zora Neale Hurston, a story about an African American woman from nearby Orlando. I remember that she was excited about the story and the opportunity to investigate and to tell it her way in the documentary film. That was back in the 1980s and it would take 18 years to produce that film, a story that is reported well by Jeff Klinkenberg of the Tampa Bay Times.

“Telling Zora Neale Hurston's story took time

Jeff Klinkenberg, Times Staff Writer

Saturday, March 29, 2008 7:00am

Zora Neale Hurston, dead these many years, put a voodoo hex on Kristy Andersen. That may be the only way to explain it.

Zora — Andersen seldom invokes the late author's last name — took possession of her thoughts and even dreams from the moment she began planning a movie.

Andersen, a veteran Tampa filmmaker, thought she'd knock off a documentary in a year or so. Zora once claimed she wrote her novels in a matter of weeks, after all. In longhand. Probably between love affairs.

Andersen, 56, was married. She used a computer. The Internet was her friend. But she was going against Zora, the enigma who resisted all attempts to know her.

Researching, Andersen would learn something new about the Florida author, something vexing, something requiring investigation — investigation that might lead somewhere but more likely ended in a blind alley.

Documentaries are expensive. As her research continued, Andersen's bank account developed anemia. She'd quit her reporting to look for new transfusions of cash from an alphabet soup of foundations, trusts, state humanities councils and private donors.

"It would have been embarrassing to give up,'' she said the other day.

So she didn't. Her 90-minute documentary about Zora is going to air April 9 on PBS.

Andersen plans to celebrate quietly with crossed fingers.

"I keep thinking Zora is going to rise from the dead and pull me back. I keep thinking I'll never be done with her.''

That's what happens when you spend 18 years on one project.

Also, Zora studied voodoo.”

Read the rest of the article at the link as it is a good one.

See the movie.

"More at IMDbPro »

American Masters: Season 22, Episode 2
Zora Neale Hurston: Jump at the Sun (9 Apr. 2008)
TV Episode - 83 min - Documentary | Biography | History
7.8 Your rating: -/10 Ratings: 7.8/10 from 37 users
Reviews: write review
Director: Samuel D. Pollard
Writer: Kristy Andersen

Stars: Kim Brockington, Cab Calloway, Marceline Hugot |"

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