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Fund This: The Lorraine Hansberry Documentary Project

By Dennis Hinzmann

You may not have heard of the playwright, but you’ve undoubtedly heard of the play. 

Seasoned filmmaker Tracy Heather Strain wants to change that, bringing Lorraine Hansberry’s story, including her seldom spoken of sexual identity as a lesbian, to a larger audience and awarding her the recognition she deserves. The project, which is in its final stretch, has had Strain working on and off for the past nine years. The film’s team has a large grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, but it won’t be released to them until they raise the remainder of their estimated budget. 

While their Kickstarter campaign has already reached its minimum goal, they have “stretch goals” laid out for milestones going pass the minimum funding. The minimum goal will help secure rights to materials imperative to the documentary-making process like archival photographs and film, movie clips and music. The stretch goals, if met, will help artistically amplify the film by allowing it to include reenactments of Hansberry’s life, and help cover parts of the editing process and sound and music acquisition. 

Strain and her team have been using personal funds to interview Hansberry’s contemporaries including her sister, Mamie Hansberry, cousin, Shauneille Perry, and numerous actors and investors from the original 1959 production of A Raisin in the Sun including Ruby Dee, Sidney Poitier, Louis Gossett Jr., and Harry Belafonte. The play is currently in a revival on Broadway starring Denzel Washington. 

Rewards for donations include digital downloads of the completed film, artwork and even a souvenir playbill from the original A Raisin in the Sun production signed by Dee, Poitier and others. The campaign is in its final stretch and ends June 20. 

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