Produced for the PBS series American Masters, this 2011 Kartemquin documentary looks at the revered choreographer Bill T. Jones as he creates a modern-dance piece about Abraham Lincoln to make its world debut at the 2009 Ravinia Festival. The most interesting scenes come near the beginning, as the black artist remembers his childhood in the 1950s and 60s, marvels at this opportunity to honor "the only white man I was allowed to love unconditionally," and ponders recent news stories asserting that Lincoln was a white supremacist at heart. But historiography soon gives way to choreography, as filmmakers Bob Hercules and Gordon Quinn observe Jones driving his dancers, musicians, and stage designers to the breaking point. Through it all, you can see what makes him such an effective artist in a collaborative medium: the ability to enlarge his diva moments into a communal experience.
Director: Bob Hercules and Gordon Quinn