White: A Memoir in Color

Joel Katz’s (Strange Fruit, SFJFF 2002) insightful personal essay ponders what it means to be white in America. The quest to understand the difficult notion of identity starts when he and his wife are asked to select a race preference for the child they wish to adopt. When the Jewish couple checks the “All” box on their application, Katz begins a journey to comprehend his own family’s often contradictory life experiences within the American melting pot. The son of liberal immigrants, Joel’s father went on to became the first Jewish professor at Howard University, the nation’s preeminent African American college. During the 1960s his father’s tolerance was severely tested to the point of admiring the racist writings of William Shockley. When Joel’s half- Black, half-white adopted daughter is born, the filmmaker and his wife grapple with bringing her up in a largely white community. Intelligent and stylish, this thought-provoking documentary is enhanced by a memorable jazz score by instrumentalist Don Byron.
Joel Katz is a an independent film and video maker based in upstate New York. His works include "Corporation with a Movie Camera" (1992), a videotape about how corporate representations have shaped American's ideas about the Third World; "Dear Carry" (1997), a documentary essay based on the life and travel films of New York jewelry designer Caroline Wagner; and "Strange Fruit" (2002), a documentary about the famed anti-lynching protest song of the same title. Katz's work has been awarded grants by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Independent Television Service, the New York State Council on the Arts, the Jerome Foundation, and numerous other agencies. He is an Assistant Professor in the Media Arts Department of New Jersey City University, and serves on the Board of Directors of Third World Newsreel.
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