by Elizabeth Coffman
The winner of the 2019 Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film is Flannery, a feature-length documentary which explores the life of acclaimed southern U.S. writer, Flannery O’Connor. Directors Elizabeth Coffman and Mark Bosco, S.J., have created an emotional and visually engaging biography with never-before-seen photographs and letters of the Georgia writer whose life was cut short by illness but whose Catholic faith, unbounded interest in the diverse people in her community and willingness to challenge racial and other stereotypes sustained her and her art form. Actress Mary Steenburgen supplies the funny, ironic voice for the writings of O’Connor. Actor Tommy Lee Jones and comedian Conan O’Brien testify to O’Connor’s distinctive theology. Top American writers — Alice Walker, Mary Karr, Hilton Als, Tobias Wolff, Alice McDermott, and Mary Gordon — offer their literary insights.
As O’Connor was also a cartoonist and painter, Flannery includes creative animations by Natalie Barahona, Kathleen Judge and Heidi Kumao and eccentric archival footage to illustrate O’Connor’s ground-breaking, bone-chilling, heart- breaking biography. The score, by award-winning composer Miriam Cutler, includes period music and O’Connor-inspired songs by Bruce Springsteen, Lucinda Williams, Bessie Smith, the Singing Nun and many more.