James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket

James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket 

Community Screening and Conversation with Director Karen Thorsen
Moderated by Dr. Keith Clark 


Fri, August 2, 2024 | 7pm


James Baldwin
Location (Off Campus)

AFI Silver Theatre & Cultural Center


To commemorate the centennial of the American writer and civil rights activist, Strathmore launches its James Baldwin series with a screening of James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket, followed by a conversation led by Dr. Keith Clark. This series leads up to our October 5 performance of Meshell Ndegeocello’s No More Water / The Fire Next Time; The Gospel of James Baldwin in the Music Center at Strathmore. 

About the Documentary: James Baldwin (1924–1987) was a prominent American author of the 20th century, a civil rights activist, and a prophetic voice urging both Black and white Americans to face their shared racial tragedies. James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket captures the passionate intellect and courageous writing of a man who was born Black, impoverished, gay, and gifted. 

From American Masters on PBS, James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket uses striking archival footage to evoke the atmosphere of Baldwin's formative years—Harlem in the '30s, his father's fundamentalist church, and the émigré demimonde of postwar Paris. Newsreel clips from the '60s capture Baldwin's commentary on the drama of the Civil Rights Movement. The film also explores his quiet retreats in Paris, the South of France, Istanbul, and Switzerland—places where Baldwin could write away from America's racial tensions. 

General admission. Seating is first-come, first-served.

Meet the Speakers

KT Filmforum 2024

Karen Thorsen

Award-winning writer/filmmaker Karen Thorsen finds inspiration at the intersection of art and social justice. Her heroes are game-changers: the artist/activists who shape history. Her films tell their stories without narration, weaving first-person narratives with archival treasures.


Thorsen began as a writer. After graduating from Vassar College, with a year at the Sorbonne in Paris, she was an editor for Simon & Schuster, a journalist for LIFE Magazine, and a foreign correspondent for TIME. Screenwriting followed, then directing. 


Her first feature-length documentary was JAMES BALDWIN: THE PRICE OF THE TICKET. Working with the renowned Maysles Films, Thorsen wrote, produced, and directed BALDWIN (with Co-Producers Bill Miles & Douglas K. Dempsey, Executive Producers Susan Lacy & Albert Maysles). A co-production with PBS and American Masters, BALDWIN was honored at festivals in over two-dozen countries – including Sundance, London, Berlin and Tokyo. Now considered a documentary film classic, BALDWIN was described as “Splendid” by Variety, “A video page-turner” by The San Francisco Chronicle, and “A haunting, beautifully made biography” by The Los Angeles Times. “Stays with you after the program ends,” said The New York Times. 

Clark Pic


Keith Clark

Keith Clark is a distinguished university professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. He is a member of the department of English and an affiliate faculty in the program in African and African American Studies. He is the author of Black Manhood in James Baldwin, Ernest J. Gaines and August Wilson (Illinois, 2002), The Radical Fiction of Ann Petry (Louisiana State, 2013), and editor of Contemporary Black Men's Fiction and Drama (Illinois, 2001). His last book, Navigating the Fiction of Ernest J. Gaines: A Roadmap for Readers, was published by Louisiana State and was runner-up for the 2021 C. Hugh Holman Award for the best book in southern studies. His essays and reviews have appeared in such publications as African American Review, Callaloo, Gay and Lesbian Quarterly, and Black Queer Studies: A Critical Anthology. His most recent essay, “Rootlessness: Afro-Pessimism as Foundation in Paradise,” was published last year in The Bloomsbury Handbook to Toni Morrison. His teaching interests include Black Literary Masculinity Studies, African American Drama, and African American LGBTQ Literature and Criticism.   

About The Alan Cheuse International Writer's Center

The BALDWIN100 is a collaborative arts, scholarship, and cultural project managed by the Alan Cheuse International Writers Center encompassing a year-long series of initiatives designed to convene a wider Washington area audience to engage deeply with James Baldwin’s work. By celebrating Why Baldwin Matters, the Center highlights a global Baldwin, whose impact on American intellectual and cultural life holds promise for a just world.

Strathmore extends its gratitude to AARP for supporting our two-month series of events celebrating the legacy of James Baldwin.