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'There Are Writers And Then There's Toni': Filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders On 'Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am'

(CBS Local)-- Toni Morrison is one of the greatest authors ever.

The Nobel Prize in Literature and Pulitzer Prize winner is the subject of a new movie from legendary photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders called "Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am." The New York based photographer and filmmaker Greenfield-Sanders and Morrison have been friends for almost 40 years.

"As a photographer, I've photographed some of the most famous and talented people out there," said Greenfield-Sanders in an interview with CBS Local's DJ Sixsmith. "I think there's something they all have in common, which is a certain drive and intensity. Toni has all of that and her talent is monumental. There are writers and then there's Toni Morrison."

The Sit-Down: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders by CBS Local News on YouTube

Greenfield-Sanders filmed interviews with Morrison in 2016 and first became friends with her back in the 1980s. The film demonstrates that there is much more to Morrison than just the Nobel Prize.

"I wanted to show a bigger picture of this amazing life," said Greenfield-Sanders. "I wanted very much for Toni to tell her stories, so that it's not this white man telling her story.  Very early, we start with the white male gaze and how it was Toni's mission to knock the little white man off her shoulder who's looking at everything you're doing and judging it. Once she was able to get rid of him, she was able to be free."

One of the people who helped introduce Morrison to a larger audience was Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey was a fan of Morrison well before she did the movie "Beloved."

"Oprah loves Toni Morrison. Oprah really appreciates what Toni did for literature," said Greenfield-Sanders. "The book club then was kind of a way to give back to Toni. Oprah had Toni four times on the book club. Oprah deeply feels the books and Beloved was a mission of her's to bring to the world."

Toni Morrison passed away Tuesday at the age of 88.

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