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Sociologists have long commented on the plight of the fatherless Black family. But Marco Williams '81 has a uniquely personal perspective to offer: The young filmmaker's first documentary details his struggle to find his own father.
"In Search of Our Fathers," which will air on PBS tomorrow at 9 p.m., tells the story of Williams' fatherless upbringing through the eyes of his family members, Williams said in an interview this month.
He said the film's climatic moment is its footage of his first meeting with his father at the age of 25.
Williams said he conceived of the documentary during his junior year at Harvard and began filming immediately after graduation.
"The genesis of the film was a [phone] conversation with my dad [a year before their meeting]," said Williams, adding that previous attempts to meet with his father had failed. "I thought it was incredible--two adult men were going to meet who had never met."
Williams said that the film is not just about his own experiences but about all Black fatherless families.
"The film is a quest for identity and an affirmation of family," said Williams. "It questions the roles of fathers, mothers, what is critical to make a successful Black family, and the existing Black stereotypes."
Williams said he hopes viewers will be challenged to reevaluate their own definitions of family.
"I hope people will take a second look and question their own families, their own identities...Love and nurturing is most important. You don't need a nuclear family.
"I think we have to stop traditional values that make us think [a fatherless family] is wrong, Williams added. "Who I am is a by-product of a single woman."
Williams said he became interested in film after taking a class on Alfred Hitchcock during his first year at Harvard.
"My eyes were opened to the fact that experiences in film were consciously created," Williams said. "I never experienced intent before."
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