Oprah, Cher Celebrate Sidney Poitier Apple Doc – The Hollywood Reporter

“I saw what I saw,” senior Sidney Poitier reflects in an interview about his childhood in the Bahamas, where he never saw a mirror — or water coming through an indoor faucet — in a new Apple TV+ documentary. Sydney. On stage Friday, the Reginald Hudlin-directed, Oprah Winfrey-produced retrospective exists not only as a summary of Potier’s singular career as an actor and filmmaker in Hollywood, but also as the first public memorial to the visionary, who died in January. Age 94.

The youngest son of two principled tomato farmers who a fortuneteller (correctly) predicted would touch all corners of the globe at his premature birth, Poitier goes for the highest peaks; In 1963, he received the Academy Award for Best Actor Lilies of the fieldFirst black actor to win for leading role.

On Wednesday night at the Academy Museum — home of the Sidney Poitier Grand Lobby — Apple hosted a premiere for the 106-minute film, which premiered at TIFF earlier this month. Hudlin, Winfrey and producer Derrick Murray star Poitier’s five daughters, as well as actress Karen Sharp (widow of the late director Stanley Kramer, who played Poitier in career-defining films. The Defiant Ones And Guess who’s coming to dinner) and Cher, who called the late star “a wonderful person and one of the best actors ever.”

“I believe love is in the details and … this is an act of love,” Winfrey said while introducing the screening. “I’ve loved him since I was 10 years old, and being able to be a part of sharing our vision of how we see him — and letting the rest of the world see him as we see him — is our gift.”

Before his death, Winfrey had completed a two-day interview with Poitier for OWN, and he shared that those eight hours became part of the grounding field for this documentary.

“Our country has yet to publicly mourn him; There was no public memorial service for him,” Winfrey continued. “So this film is in many ways a memorial and a celebration of his life.”

On stage, Poitier’s eldest child, Beverly Poitier-Henderson, spoke on behalf of the family: “Many people confuse the roles that actors play with the real person. In my father’s case, he chose roles that reflected his values. My sisters and I are very proud of him and that he leaves the world better than he found it. As a way of honoring him, she asked those in the audience to do the same.

said executive producer Catherine Cyr The Hollywood Reporter Interviewing Poitier’s entire family for the film was “one of our greatest assets,” adding: “I think we would be sorry if they weren’t represented.” The film features scathing anecdotes from Hollywood heavyweights including Denzel Washington, Spike Lee, Halle Berry and Barbra Streisand, as well as critics such as the late Greg Tate. But one particular moment with Morgan Freeman resonated with Cyr the most.

“There is a small moment at the beginning of the film [Poitier] Talks about going to Harlem and trying to learn how to read. He sat in a cafe and this young Jewish gentleman sat there every day to read with him. Freeman comes to say: Throughout life, if you try, someone will always help lift you up. But if you don’t, you won’t get that help.’ The whole composition of a scene always melts me.

Noting that Poitier’s dignity, courage and elegance are what he will most remember, Hudlin talked about how the film situates the actor and activist not only in the timeline of Hollywood history, but also with an eye toward the future. “With the true greats, we have to retell the story for each generation,” he said THR. “It’s important for us to remember the breadth of his life and all the things he accomplished because he did so much.”

“His humanity is brought across by the film, I think — and I think he’s remembered,” said daughter Annika Poitier, who served as a producer on the film and dug through the collection to find various photographs and videos for the project. . “He was always very kind and gracious to anyone who came to talk to him. He loved people. He loved connecting with people and getting to know them. He would treat his best friend the same way he would treat a stranger on the street.

Sheryl Lee Ralph, David Oyelowo, Loretta Devine, Coleman Domingo and Dennis Haysbert were among the stars who came out to celebrate the film’s premiere, with Ralph declaring, “Mr. Sidney Poitier’s journey is something everyone should know about. It’s the American dream.

The documentary weaves a rich and nuanced nonfiction narrative of a career marked by challenges and occasional loneliness. In it, Winfrey Poitier shares her memory of being a black entertainer beloved by white audiences, nods to her own struggles with the burden of some sociologists’ injustice — and one 1967 The New York Times Article “The Sidney Poitier Syndrome: A good man in an all-white world, with no wife, no sweetheart, no woman to love or kiss, helps solve the white man’s problem.” But it also explores his personal life and how passion (his nine-year public relationship with actress Diahann Carroll) and activism at the height of the Civil Rights Movement (which he navigated with his best friend Harry Belafonte) sometimes derailed.

“[The film] It speaks to the storied history of Hollywood and its relationship — or lack thereof — with African-Americans,” shared Pamela Poitier. “My father was a trailblazer in that sense, but he didn’t think for himself. [one]. He thought of himself as someone who wanted to act.

Executive producer Terry Wood, a longtime collaborator of Winfrey’s, said he was somewhat nervous working on the project, which has been in the works since 2018, because he knew how special the film was to Winfrey. “You want to get every minute of it, every second of it right,” he said: “[And] You freeze as you try to finish it because you want him to see it.

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