Leslie Harris: ‘We can’t get a film financed with a black woman lead’

The director’s debut, Just Another Girl on the IRT, was an instant classic – 25 years ago. But she still can’t get a followup off the ground It’s a familiar story: a young director heads to the Sundance film festival with their debut feature. The crowd is wowed; jury likewise. The movie gets picked up for a major distribution deal and is deemed an instant classic. But while the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Steven Soderbergh, Robert Rodriquez, Richard Linklater, Darren Aronofsky, Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson and the Coen brothers have converted Park City acclaim into enduring careers, even Oscars, things turned out rather differently for Leslie Harris. I meet Harris, now 57, for tea at the Trade Union Cafe in Brooklyn, not far from the home she shares with her husband, a New York Times photographer. Soft-spoken and gentle, she was born in Cleveland, Ohio. She loved cinema from an early age and, spurred on by her touring-musician father and a mother big on female empowerment, moved to New York to pursue a career in advertising, before jacking it in to shoot her first movie. Continue reading...

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