Bill T. Jones: A Good Man

Tony Award-winning choreographer Bill T. Jones conceives and executes a dance production based on the life of Abraham Lincoln.

Good man 01
American Masters
Premiere Date
November 11, 2011
120 minutes
Funding Initiative
Series and Special Projects
Rudnick joanna filmmaker bio

Joanna Rudnick

Producer Joanna Rudnick is a documentary filmmaker with the award-winning, social-issue documentary film company Kartemquin Films. She recently completed her directorial debut In the Family, a nominee for the 2009 Emmy Award for Outstanding Informational Programming—Long Form. In the Family premiered at SILVERDOCS in 2008, was broadcast Show more nationally on PBS' P.O.V. the same year, and was a finalist for the NIHCM Foundation's Health Care Radio and Television Journalism Award. She is currently producing two feature-length films for Kartemquin, Prisoner of Her Past, and A Good Man, and developing a documentary on photographer Rick Guidotti, who left the fashion world to photograph kids with genetic conditions. Joanna has been working in documentary filmmaking for a decade. During her tenure at the American Masters series at WNET in New York, Joanna co-produced Robert Capa in Love and War, which was broadcast on PBS and the BBC, premiered at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and was the presenting film for the 2003 Emmy award for Outstanding Nonfiction Series. Joanna holds a master's degree from NYU in Science and Environmental Reporting and a bachelor's degree from Northwestern University. She is an adjunct professor at Medill School of Journalism teaching a class in documentary filmmaking. Show less

Other ITVS Films
In the Family
Quinn gordon filmmaker bio

Gordon Quinn

Artistic Director and founding member of Kartemquin Films, 2007 recipient of the MacArthur award for Creative and Effective Institutions, Gordon Quinn has been making documentaries for more than 40 years. His producing credits include such award-winning and highly acclaimed films as Hoop Dreams; Vietnam, Long Time Coming; Golub; 5 Girls; Refrigerator Mothers; Stevie, Show more for which he won the Cinematography Award at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival; and The New Americans (for which h also directed the Palestinian segment). Most recently, Quinn executive produced Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita; At The Death House Door; Milking the Rhino; In the Family; and Typeface, as well as directing a film on delayed posttraumatic stress syndrome, Prisoner of Her Past. Show less

Hercules bob filmmaker bio

Bob Hercules

Bob Hercules’ work includes Bill T. Jones: A Good Man and Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance, both of which aired on PBS’s American Masters series. A Good Man was an official selection at Full Frame, IDFA, Silverdocs, DOXA, and many other festivals. Joffrey was the opening night film at the Dance on Camera Film Festival at Lincoln Center in 2012 and the Show more closing night film at the San Francisco Dance Film Festival. His 2006 film, Forgiving Dr. Mengele, was shown at film festivals around the world and won the Special Jury Prize at the 2006 Slamdance Film Festival. Show less

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The Film

Bill T. Jones: A Good Man follows acclaimed director/choreographer Bill T. Jones (Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Still/Here, FELA!) as he and his company create their most ambitious work, an original dance-theater piece in honor of Abraham Lincoln’s Bicentennial. Through two tumultuous years, witness raw moments of frustration as Jones struggles to communicate his vision to his dancers and musicians, as well as moments of great exhilaration with movement transcending the limitation of words. Jones and his company come face to face with America’s unresolved contradictions about race, equality, and the legacy of America's 16th president. Initially accusatory and indicting of The Great Emancipator, the work evolves into a triumph of hope for the United States' struggling democracy, with Jones revealing that Lincoln was “the only white man I was allowed to love unconditionally.” Premiering on the heels of Jones’s Kennedy Center Honor and the prestige of his 11 FELA! Tony nominations, Bill T. Jones: A Good Man is a window into the creative process and, indeed, the creative crisis of one of our nation’s most enduring, provocative artists as he explores what it means to be a good man, to be a free man, to be a citizen.

The film follows Jones and his Company as they create movement and gesture stirring complicated emotions about Lincoln's legacy in contemporary life while asking: What does Lincoln signify in terms of race relations, civil rights, freedom and equality, and these United States? Jones lets the camera inside to witness his creative process as he grapples with the contradictions created by an African American modern dancer creating a definitive work on Lincoln.