Funded! This project was successfully funded on January 1, 2012.

Photo-main
Play
00:00
00:00

Award-winning filmmaker Byron Hurt shares his personal journey to explore the African-American cuisine known as soul food.

"Is African American culture a culture of soul food junkies?"

Food traditions are hard to change, especially when they're passed on from generation to generation. In this PBS documentary, award-winning filmmaker Byron Hurt shares his journey to learn more about the African American cuisine known as soul food.

Baffled by his dad's unwillingness to change his traditional soul food diet in the face of a health crisis, Hurt sets out to learn more about this rich culinary tradition and its relevance to black cultural identity. He discovers that the love affair that his dad and his community have with soul food is deep-rooted, complex, and in some tragic cases, deadly.

Through candid interviews with soul food cooks, historians, and scholars, as well as doctors, family members, and everyday people, Soul Food Junkies blends history, humor, and heartwarming stories to place this culinary tradition under the microscope. Both the consequences and the benefits of soul food are carefully addressed. So too is the issue of low access to quality food in black communities, which makes it difficult for some black people to eat healthy. In the end, Hurt determines whether or not black people are addicted to this food tradition that has its origins in West Africa and the black south, yet is loved all over the world.

Director's Statement: Why Am I Making Soul Food Junkies?

In 2004, doctors told my father he had pancreatic cancer. One of the many factors leading to this disease is a high fat, meat-based diet. My father’s diet consisted of both. While I am not certain that my father’s diet alone contributed to his disease, his illness capped off what had been my lifelong concern for him: his health.

From the earliest time that I can remember, my father was overweight. He loved to eat and he particularly loved to eat soul food. He also loved fast food and sugary desserts, like many people do. Growing up, I wanted to be just like my father so I ate what he ate: grits and eggs covered with cheese and topped with bits of salt pork and bacon for breakfast; overcooked collard greens seasoned with ham hocks, fried pork chops, macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, or other delicious but fatty foods right out of the black southern tradition.

In college, though, I began to slowly change my eating habits after learning more about how to eat healthy. I stopped eating red meat and pork and did my best to avoid greasy fried foods. On weekends, when I came home from college, I began to confront my father about his eating habits, often to no avail. I’d challenge him about his food choices. He’d ridicule me for no longer eating beef or pork. We had several tense conversations about his weight. My family and I were concerned he would one day suffer a heart attack or a stroke. We wanted my dad to live a long, healthy life so he could be here to one day meet his grandchildren. Eventually he would make small changes to his diet and began to exercise more, but unfortunately the changes came too late in his life. 

This is a common story in the lives of many families in this country. As an African American community, we, like most people in this country, consume far too many processed foods that are filled with saturated fats, salt, and sugar. We don’t eat enough vegetables, nor do we get enough exercise. Many of us pay more attention to the grade of fuel we put into our cars than we do the quality of food we put into our bodies. As a category, African Americans lead the nation in obesity, heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. We are killing ourselves slowly with food.

My next film, Soul Food Junkies is my attempt to address this urgent health crisis in communities of color. I endeavor to make a film that takes a nuanced look at the complex history of soul food, how it has shaped our cultural identity, black folks’ current eating habits, and how our food choices are making us a sick and unhealthy people.

Soul food is a quintessential American culinary tradition that enslaved Africans created out of necessity. My film will not condemn this popular cuisine loved worldwide. Instead, it will examine the health advantages and disadvantages of soul food, and look at how it has helped black people through very difficult times in America. I’ll also examine the lack of access that far too many black people have to quality fruits and vegetables as well as the emerging ‘food justice’ movement that is mobilizing all across the country, including in poor and working class communities.

If you agree that this is an important discussion that needs to take place in our community, then I need your help. You can help complete this film by making a donation to the Soul Food Junkies film project today. I have a track record of success as an independent filmmaker and I intend to make Soul Food Junkies a high-quality, intelligent, entertaining film.

How Will I Use Your Donation?

Monies raised via this online drive will be allocated for:

  • on-line editing
  • motion graphics
  • color correction
  • sound design and audio mix 

How Far Along is Soul Food Junkies?

We are almost done (85%)!  Right now we have a 54-minute rough cut of the film and are working on completing the fine cut, before locking picture, and going into final post-production.

When Will This Documentary Be Complete?

My goal is to complete Soul Food Junkies by January 2012.  A successful Kickstarter drive will make this is an achievable goal.

Soul Food Junkies Team

  • The Independent Television Service
  • The Ford Foundation
  • Executive Producer: Stanley Nelson (award-winning filmmaker)
  • Associate Producer: Lisa Durden
  • Editor: Sonia Gonzalez-Martinez
  • Cinematographers: Bill Winters, Kevin Chung, Alessandro Rafenelli, Arthur Jafa, Sekou McGlothin
  • Music: Kathryn Bostic; dead prez
  • Firelight Media's Producer's Lab
  • Public Relations and Marketing: AKILA WORKSONGS, Inc.

FAQ

Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

Ask a question
421
Backers
$31,358
pledged of $25,000 goal
0
seconds to go
  • Pledge $5 or more
    You selected

    10 backers

    Sweet Tea Level. You have our sincere gratitude and appreciation. We know that you didn’t have to make a contribution at all so we THANK YOU!

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $10 or more
    You selected

    49 backers

    Corn Bread Level. On the Byron Hurt website [www.BHurt.com], we will add your name to the "Soul Food Junkies" Thank You page as one of the film’s backers.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $25 or more
    You selected

    119 backers

    Fried Okra Level. All of the above, PLUS: ► An autographed DVD from the Byron Hurt Film Collection. Choose from one of these films: "I Am A Man," "Barack & Curtis," or "Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes." NOTE: "Soul Food Junkies" is not included in this reward level.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $50 or more
    You selected

    80 backers

    Black Eyed Peas Level. All of the above, PLUS: ► A pair of VIP tickets to Byron Hurt’s upcoming "Soul Food Junkies" special event in New York City (details to be announced soon).

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $100 or more
    You selected

    84 backers

    Peach Cobbler Level. All of the above, PLUS: ► An autographed copy of the "Soul Food Junkies" DVD (upon completion). The delivery date below is an extra cautious estimate. We expect to deliver on this reward much sooner.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $250 or more
    You selected

    10 backers

    Smothered Chicken Level. All of the above, PLUS: ► Autographed copies of the complete Byron Hurt Film Collection. DVDs include: "I Am A Man," "Barack & Curtis," "Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes," and "Soul Food Junkies"), and a God Bless The Child Productions T-Shirt. The delivery date below is an extra cautious estimate. We expect to deliver on this reward much sooner.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $500 or more
    You selected

    3 backers

    Mac n' Cheese Level. All of the above, PLUS: ► A “Special Thanks” listing in the film credits of "Soul Food Junkies" (upon completion of the film). The delivery date below is an extra cautious estimate. We expect to deliver on this reward much sooner.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $750 or more
    You selected

    1 backer

    Collard Greens Level. All of the above, PLUS: ► A “Contributing Producer” listing in the film credits of "Soul Food Junkies" (upon completion of the film), and a 30 minute one-on-one phone consultation with Byron Hurt about filmmaking. The delivery date below is an extra cautious estimate. We expect to deliver on this reward much sooner.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $1,000 or more
    You selected

    7 backers

    Fried Chicken Level. All of the above, PLUS: ► A “Producer” credit listing in the film credits of "Soul Food Junkies" (upon completion of the film), and a 60 minute one-on-one consultation with Byron Hurt about filmmaking (via phone or Skype). The delivery date below is an extra cautious estimate. We expect to deliver on this reward much sooner.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $5,000 or more
    You selected

    0 backers Limited (4 left of 4)

    Red Velvet Cake Level. All of the above, PLUS: ► The Byron Hurt Multi-Media Presentation (includes a 30 minute multi-media keynote plus dinner with students and faculty). Backers will also receive an organizational credit as a film sponsor of "Soul Food Junkies" (upon completion of the film). This reward level is subject to special conditions (eg. the backer must cover travel and hotel) and is only offered to colleges, universities, cultural arts institutions, non-profits, and corporations.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $10,000 or more
    You selected

    0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)

    Sweet Potato Pie Level. All of the above, PLUS: ► The Byron Hurt Multi-Media Presentation (includes an extended multi-media keynote for 60 minutes, plus a separate classroom visit and discussion, and a dinner with students and faculty). Backers will also receive an organizational credit as a film sponsor of "Soul Food Junkies" (upon completion of the film). This reward level is subject to special conditions (eg. the backer must cover travel and hotel) and is only offered to colleges, universities, cultural arts institutions, non-profits, and corporations.

    Estimated delivery:
Funding period

- (45 days)