Filmmaker Byron Hurt did not have to journey far to find the inspiration for his newest project – "Soul Food Junkies" – which premieres on PBS Jan. 14.
Inspired by his own family's complex relationship with "soul food" – fried chicken, ribs, macaroni and cheese, peach cobbler and the whole panoply of down-home foods made with grease, sugar and love – Hurt asks whether this diet is nurturing or destroying the African-American community.
With humor and heart, Hurt questions the effects of "soul food" on the health of not only African-Americans but all who guiltily consume this most comforting of American comfort foods.
The film will debut on the PBS series Independent Lens (produced by Lois Vossen) on Monday, Jan. 14. 2013. Actress Mary Louise-Parker, who know is a vegan, is the series host. She has said her East Tennessee roots give her some understanding of the mentality that draws Southerners to "soul food."
Hurt, known by many for the success of one of his earlier films, "Hip Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes," has made it known that the film has very personal side for him.
Cancer claimed the life of Hurt's father. Why his family and his community ate the way they did is something he learned later. Now he has a strong conviction that his father's soul food eating habits made way for the cancer that killed him.
New York Daily News columnist Stanley Crouch got a glimpse of Hurt's latest effort while Hurt still was raising money to complete it. "It is humorous, soulful and well aware of how hard it is to change when what one is addicted to is not only certain kinds of food but food made to taste truly delicious," wrote Crouch.