Director of Documentary ‘James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket’ Holds Talk at Cinestudio

Karen Thorsen Leads Community Conversation about Baldwin and his Message at Trinity

Hartford, Connecticut, December 16, 2015 – A special screening of the newly re-digitized documentary film James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket was held December 9 at Cinestudio on the Trinity College campus. This year marks the 90th birthday of the late author and civil rights activist James Baldwin, so director Karen Thorsen has been taking her film across the country to spark conversations of social change.

​Frank Mitchell, assistant director and curator of the Amistad Center for Art & Culture; Doug Dempsey, co-producer of James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket; Chaplain John L. Selders, Jr., associate chaplain for Christian life at Trinity College; and Karen Thorsen, director of James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket. Photo by Megan O’Brien
A brief discussion brought together by Trinity College Associate Chaplain John L. Selders Jr., who is a friend of Thorsen’s, was held after the film screening. Thorsen shed light on the process she used to create the film, as well as on her relationship with Baldwin.

The filmmaker began by sharing that in 1986 she had started working with Baldwin, who intended to cooperate in the creation of a film that followed his daily activities. Once the filming was completed, Thorsen and her team planned to find a story and add narration to the footage. However, she never had the chance to make that film. Thorsen said, “On December 1st, to be exact, of 1987, I got a call from a friend in the early morning who said, ‘I just heard on NPR that James Baldwin died last night.’” She explained that she was aware of Baldwin’s sickness in early September of 1987 when she called him, but he said that they would definitely start filming by the end of the year. As Thorsen said, “Well, we did [end up filming by the end of the year], just not how we expected.”

When looking to film Baldwin and tell his life story, Thorsen never imagined that the project would begin with his funeral. However, Thorsen received a lot of support from Baldwin’s family, and the process of creating the film became a very rewarding and eye-opening experience for her. She was happy to share with the audience her own encounters with Baldwin, and she connected with audience members who had also been effected by Baldwin’s work and words.

Thorsen hopes that audience members who are impacted by the film or by Baldwin’s books will continue to spread his message and spark more dialogue about peace.

For more information about Baldwin, the film, or the director, visit the website

Trinity College sponsors of this event included: Office of Spiritual and Religious Life; Office of Multicultural Affairs; Center for Urban and Global Studies; Film Department; Sociology Department; Women and Gender Resource Action Center; Encouraging Respect of Sexualities; History Department; Political Science Department; and the American Studies Department.

Written by Ana Medina ’16