Actor and filmmaker Sidney Poitier was a legend. As a trailblazing thespian, he paved the way for so many Black actors and filmmakers by proving that Black Americans have so much to offer cinema, either despite or because of their tumultuous experiences facing racism and prejudice in our country. From producer Oprah Winfrey and director Reginald Hudlin comes a documentary that pays a well-deserved tribute to Sidney Poitier and the legacy he left behind. As told through his own words and through the words of the people he inspired and impressed, Sidney is a wonderful film that reveals the life and career of an amazing artist who struggled and fought to achieve the notoriety and success he earned.
Though Poitier was born in Miami, Florida, he spent much of his early life in the Bahamas, the place of origin of his parents. When Sidney moved back to the States in his teenage years, he experienced a major culture shock when he first experienced the racist climate and segregation. Coming from the Bahamas, where Black people did not experience this oppression, Poitier had to adjust accordingly, but that did not stop him from pursuing his passion of acting. He began his career in Black theater, but would successfully make the transition to cinema where he earned much admiration and respect.
In addition, as Poitier’s career started taking off, he also became an activist and spoke out against the systemic racism that existed in America. Throughout his life and career, Sidney faced many obstacles, but remained undaunted in his quest for respect. Much like his characters in movies, Poitier stood tall and proudly and earned the love he most certainly deserved.
Though this documentary is presented in a rather conventional manner, I feel that the content and the subject of the film elevates the quality in ways that are emotionally moving and powerful. Director Reginald Hudlin is obviously and ardent admirer of Sidney Poitier and all for which he stood. At the same time, the filmmaker never sugar coats his portrait of the legend and doesn’t shy from presenting the flaws and weaknesses that made him human. I highly recommend this beautiful and emotionally charged documentary to not only Sidney Poitier’s fans, but also fans cinema as a whole. Cinema would not be the same without Sidney, and the world is a better place because of him.