Zora Neale Hurston: Jump at the Sun is a moving interpretation of Zora Neale Hurston's life and career. In fact, a viewer can easily sit halfway through the eighty-four-minute film and forget one is watching a documentary. By juxtaposing black-and-white footage of Hurston in the 1920s and 1930s with colorful reenactments, Kristy Anderson and Sam Pollard manage to simultaneously emphasize the historicity of Hurston's work and the timelessness of it as well. Early in the documentary, Hurston biographer Robert Hemenway remarks that "she [Hurston] was bodacious, outrageous. She enjoyed shaking things up." Seemingly, the documentary's intent is to pay homage to this aspect of Hurston's personality, but it does much more in that it offers a holistic view of Zora Neale Hurston's life and work.
Zora Neale Hurston, path-breaking novelist, pioneering anthropologist and one of the first black women to enter the American literary canon, established the African American vernacular as one of the most vital, inventive voices in American literature. This definitive film biography, eighteen years in the making, portrays Zora in all her complexity: gifted, flamboyant, and controversial but always fiercely original. ZORA NEALE HURSTON: JUMP AT THE SUN intersperses insights from leading scholars and rare footage of the rural South (some of it shot by Zora herself) with re-enactments of a revealing 1943 radio interview. Her father, a Baptist preacher, carpenter and three times mayor, reminded Zora every Sunday morning that ordinary black people could be powerful poets. Her mother encouraged her to "jump at de' sun," never to let being black and a woman stand in the way of her dreams.
Best Educational Film, Montreal Festival of Films on Art; Silver Award, Philadelphia International Film Festival and Market; Pan African Film Festival; Southern Circuit Filmmakers Tour; International Black Docufest