Directed by Sedat Pakay • Documentary • With James Baldwin • 1973 • 12 minutes
Set in Istanbul, the film opens with a surprisingly candid scene of Baldwin leisurely awakening in his bedroom. Sedat Pakay, a Turkish filmmaker who studied with Walker Evans, is known for his photographic portraits of famous artists and writers, Baldwin among them. Here in Istanbul, Baldwin seems relatively relaxed, walking among crowds in a public park or on the city’s streets. His focus is personal, even intimate: “The life I live is very different from what people imagine. I love a few men. I love a few women. Love comes in many strange packages; it never comes to you as you think it will. I think the trick is to say yes to life.” He speaks of how difficult it is concentrate and to write in the United States and says that “American men are paranoiac on the subject of homosexuality.” The film offers us a self-reflective James Baldwin, one who fearlessly examines his most private thoughts and feelings. —Film Forum
Preserved by the Yale Film Archive with support from the National Film Preservation Foundation.