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Strange Fruit (2002)

 |  Documentary  |  May 2002 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 78 users   Metascore: 73/100
Reviews: 5 user | 7 critic | 8 from

In 1937, after seeing a photo depicting the lynching of a black man in the south, Bronx-born high school teacher Abel Meeropol wrote a poem entitled "Strange Fruit" that begins with the ... See full summary »



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Short animated film that contrasts pastoral scenes of the Old South with the racial violence that occured during the Jim Crow era in the United States.

Director: Neal Sopata
Stars: Billie Holiday


Cast overview, first billed only:
Dorothy Thigpen ...
Narrator (voice)
Himself, Commodore Records (as Milt Gabler)
Farah Jasmine Griffin ...
Herself, writer and educator
C.T. Vivian ...
Himself, reverend and veteran civil rights activist
E.M. 'Woody' Beck ...
Himself, sociologist
Abbey Lincoln ...
Herself, singer and composer
Michael Denning ...
Himself, historian
Amina Baraka ...
Herself, poet and performer
Amiri Baraka ...
Himself, poet and playwright
Bernie Kassoy ...
Himself, retired teacher and visual artist
Henry Foner ...
Himself, retired teacher and union activist
Honey Kassoy ...
Herself, retired teacher and visual artist
Michael Meeropol ...
Himself, adopted son of Abel Meeropol
Robert Meeropol ...
Himself, adopted son of Abel Meeropol (as Robby Meeropol)
Jeffrey Melnick ...
Himself, historian (as Jeff Melnick)


In 1937, after seeing a photo depicting the lynching of a black man in the south, Bronx-born high school teacher Abel Meeropol wrote a poem entitled "Strange Fruit" that begins with the words: "Southern trees bear a strange fruit / Blood on the leaves and blood at the root." He set the poem to music and a few years later convinced Billy holiday to record it in a legendary heartbreaking performance. Intertwining jazz genealogy, biography, performance footage, and the history of lynching, director Joel Katz fashions a fascinating discovery of the lost story behind a true American classic. Written by Excerpted from Coolidge Corner Theatre Program Update

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

May 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Outo hedelmä  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

Lady Day ushers in rare videotape.
13 January 2005 | by (Washington, DC) – See all my reviews

I only wanted to see this documentary for one reason: to watch Ms. Holiday perform the title song. The song's extremely sad, bitter lyrics are legendary, but I'd heard for years that it had been given something of a dramatic, almost eccentric, interpretation by Ms. Holiday herself. I'd assumed that if there was a surviving recording of it, it was in some B-level motion picture or newsreel. And here's the big surprise of the documentary: when we finally see Holiday, it is not on film, but on live television. A surviving b/w reel-to-reel videotape of a 1958 (or 1959) BBC broadcast shows Ms. Holiday- beautiful, regal, but somewhat melancholy (with hair severely pulled back and in a glittering dress)- stylishly reciting with piano accompaniment for 3 minutes of what must be the earliest surviving videotape ever recorded-- and just a scant 5 months before her death. It's like two phenomena were jelled into one performance: modern television technology and an artist very much at the end of her own life. Blew me out of the water!!

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