What do you get when renowned portrait photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders and former New York Times film critic Elvis Mitchell decide to collaborate on a film on black culture, inspired by the idea of a coffee table book? You get The Black List (recently bought by HBO Documentaries and retitled The Black List: Volume One), a portrait of black America that is at once intimate and larger than life. Picture a gorgeous coffee table book filled with portraits of famous African-American men and women, brought to life and saying the most erudite and occasionally unexpected things, and you have an inkling of what's been captured in this film.

Born over a lunch date between Greefield-Sanders and Mitchell, The Black List, the title of which is a deliberate play on the negative connotation often given to the word "black," was initially conceived as a book, but Greenfield-Sanders quickly realized that it needed to be a film, done as a series of interviews with prominent African-Americans. Mitchell also has a book in the works that will flesh on the snippets of interviews in the film into longer stories.