Marlene “Mo” Morris
Mill Valley 2015
Pan African, Sebastopol Doc, Through Women’s Eyes, Oakland, IFF Boston, SF Jewish, Harlem, Sarasota, San Diego and Nashville Black film festivals
A portrait of an African-American mural artist and activist.
Morris follows Edythe Boone, better known as Edy, over the course of three years, telling the septuagenarian’s story and showcasing her efforts to foster art – and social activism – among diverse communities in the San Francisco Bay Area, her home since relocating her family from Harlem to escape the crack epidemic. As Edy is shown working with children on art projects, she reveals her background, which includes an early upbringing by an Orthodox Jewish family, and contributions to local murals focused on African-American, women, and HIV/AIDS issues, and, to a broader extent, to public art which helps uplift disadvantaged communities. Edy is an appealing, positive subject, but Morris’ storytelling is unfortunately erratic, pingponging between two many themes and too-awkwardly shoehorning a consideration of Black Lives Matters. While Edy’s nephew, Eric Garner, was a victim of excessive police force, the film’s attempt to address this feels too separate from the rest of the project and not sufficiently developed, making it an ill fit for what is otherwise a likeable, if smaller, profile of the inspirational power of art.