Say Amen, Somebody

by George T. Nierenberg
United States, 1982, 101', color, DCP
Monday 07 September 2020
21:30 Isola degli Autori Public, free entrance
V.O. ENG sub ITA
Reservation required on starting from August 31st

Ed Lachman
Don Lenzer
Paul Barnes
Danny Michael
John Hampton
Neelon Crawford

Willie Mae Ford Smith
Thomas A. Dorsey
Sallie Martin
Delois Barrett Campbell
Billie Barrett GreenBey
Rodessa Barrett Porter
Edward O'Neal
Edgar O'Neal
Zella Jackson Price

George T. Nierenberg
Karen Nierenberg

restoration produced by 
Milestone Film & Video
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Academy Film Archive

film to 4K digital restoration by
Metropolis Post

The film focuses on two of gospel music's pioneers, "Mother" Willie Mae Ford Smith, one of gospel's first soloists, and "Professor" Thomas A. Dorsey, hailed as the Father of Gospel Music.  In scenes leading up to a St. Louis tribute to Mother Smith and to an annual Gospel Convention in Houston, we learn firsthand about the early days of Gospel, its development, the real challenges that faced its founders - particularly the women - and the humanity of those who felt compelled to answer a calling to spread the gospel through this powerful, soul-grabbing, transcendent and utterly joyful musical form. The Barrett Sisters, The O'Neal Twins and others deliver absolutely luminous performances in this film that can't help but leave the viewer moved and downright uplifted.



2005 Bill Withers Just as I Am [doc]
2000 Head of the Class: The Lion King [doc]
1995 Gotta Dance! [doc]
1992 Neon Lights [doc]
1985 About Tap [doc]
1983 Moment of Crisis [doc]
1982 Say Amen, Somebody [doc]
1979 No Maps on My Taps [doc]
1975 The Hollow [doc]

After I made my film on Black Jazz tap dancing, No Map on My Taps, I developed a fascination with the roots of American culture and was looking for an idea for another project. At dinner with Grammy Award-winning musician Ry Cooder one night, he said "you ought to look into Gospel Music. Those ‘cats' are really neat!"...and Say Amen, Somebody was born. I knew little about Gospel music before I began the project, which gave me the freedom to experience this new world without any preconceived notions.

George T. Nierenberg (New York, 1952) studied Film and Art at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, USA, and directed his first film, The Hollow, in 1975.

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