Spirit to Spirit: Nikki Giovanni (1986)

Once crowned “The Princess of Black Poetry,” the prolific and political Nikki Giovanni has become one of America’s most popular poets. This lyrical and visually provocative film details the poet’s coming-of-age against the background of her times: the Civil Rights struggle, Vietnam, and the Women’s Movement. In this dynamic portrait, selected readings by Giovanni reveal the values and personal history which have deeply influenced her poetry.  Spirit to Spiritunveils the sly wit and sharp insights of Giovanni’s multi-layered work, making it a delightful introduction to this talented poet and incisive social commentator. As she surveys the world around her, no subject is protected from her critical and mischievous poetic eye. Her criticism can be humorous, gentle, or angry as she demands that her world become a better place.

Skillfully weaving performance footage with evocative photomontage, archival footage and colorful animation, the film is a journey re-creating the history of the poet and the country.  Spirit to Spirit offers a compelling interpretation of serious concerns ranging from racism to romance. A charismatic, complex, and talented artist, Giovanni shines as she reads her work. The film moves at a lively pace as her words are complemented by colorful imagery and a rhythmic musical score. SPIRIT TO SPIRIT is a wonderful discovery for those unfamiliar with Giovanni’s work and a meaningful beginning for everyone who has said, “I don’t understand poetry.”

Nikki Giovanni has managed to overcome this countrys determined lack of enthusiasm for verse… Spirit to Spirit is a good introduction to Giovanni and a welcome antidote to versaphobia.” ~ The Washington Post


Filmmaker Bio: Mirra Bank is an independent film ‘lifer’ who continues to direct documentaries, fiction films, and theater. Her award-winning work has been screened widely here and abroad. She is a Lifetime Member of the Actors Studio, a member of the Academy (Doc Branch) and has served as a NYWIFT Board Member, Board President, and is a current Advisory Board Member. She is proud that her new doc feature, No Fear No Favor, received post-production support from NYWIFT.