SC State’s I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium Presents Zora Neale Hurston’s “Jump at the Sun”

Friday, March 25, 2011

SC State University’s I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium (The Stanback) will host a tour of Zora Neale Hurston’s “Jump at the Sun” documentary. The documentary will be seen at the York W. Bailey Museum at the Penn Center, St. Helena Island on Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 2 p.m.; SC State’s I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium on Thursday, March 24, 2011; and the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture at the College of Charleston on Friday, March 25, 2011.

The Humanities Council of South Carolina, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities is supporting this tour through a grant to The Stanback, which was received in February, but the Council also supported the creation of the documentary through a major grant in the1990’s. Zora Neale Hurston’s “Jump at the Sun” is also a part of the South Arts’ Southern Circuit Film Festival.

Following the film screenings, there will be panel discussions with the audience moderated by Ellen Zisholtz, director of The Stanback, along with documentary producer and writer, Kristy Andersen. Humanities scholars, Dr. Angela Shaw-Thornberg, assistant professor English in SC State’s Department of English and Modern Languages and Dr. Patricia Williams-Lessane, director of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture in Charleston, S.C.

At all locations, the viewing of the documentary is free and the public is invited to attend.

About the Film
Zora Neale Hurston’s “Jump at the Sun,” is an 83 minute biography of this fascinating artist, anthropologist and folklorist. The documentary examines Hurston’s life, interspersing 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. Hurston biographer and Rutgers University professor, Cheryl Wall, traces Hurston's unique artistic vision back to her childhood in Eatonville, Fla., the first all-black incorporated town in the United States (US). There, Hurston was surrounded by proud, self-sufficient, self-governing black people, immersed in African-American folk traditions. 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. 

About the Filmmaker
Kristy Andersen, a Florida filmmaker at BBN Productions, was funded by the Humanities Council of South Carolina in 1994. Anderson conducted research into Zora Neale Hurston’s work in South Carolina. This funding assisted with Andersen's development of this documentary.  That research also resulted in the subsequent location of film footage at the Library of Congress that had been field-produced by Zora Neale Hurston in 1940 at the Church of the Living God in Beaufort, S.C.  Hurston's work was performed under a grant from anthropologist, Dr. Margaret Mead, as part of a study of trance.  At the time, anthropologists presumed that trance was a type of schizophrenia and thus were documenting trance in religious ceremonies, including voodoo in Haiti and dance in Bali.  Andersen will discuss the part of the film that dealt with South Carolina and Hurston's work as an anthropologist.  She will also discuss the difficulties Hurston encountered writing novels in the 1930's, including “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” which celebrated African-American traditions and Southern folk culture.   This film was broadcast on PBS in the American Masters Series.

For additional information about Zora Neale Hurston’s “Jump at the Sun” or other events atThe Stanback, contact Ellen Zisholtz, director of The Stanback, at (803) 536-7174 or Ingrid Owens, program manager at The Stanback, at (803)536-8329.