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Flannery O’Connor with her peacocks. (undated photo)
Courtesy of AP / Joe McTyre
Flannery O’Connor with her peacocks. (undated photo)

Stream or tune in Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Features new interviews with Mary Karr, Hilton Als, Alice Walker, Tobias Wolff, Tommy Lee Jones and Alice McDermott; Mary Steenburgen is the voice of O’Connor

The first feature-length documentary with full access to the Flannery O’Connor trust, AMERICAN MASTERS “Flannery” explores the life and legacy of the literary icon with never-before-seen archival footage, original animations, O’Connor’s newly discovered personal letters and excerpts from her stories read by actress Mary Steenburgen.

Featuring new, original interviews with Mary KarrHilton Als, Alice Walker, Tobias Wolff, Tommy Lee Jones, Alice McDermott and others, alongside archival interviews of friends and family, the film premieres nationwide Tuesday, March 23 on PBS in honor of Women’s History Month.


6 Books to deepen your understanding of Flannery O’Connor

There have been many biographies of Flannery O’Connor written in the last two decades and critical studies on her work continues to grow, especially concerning O’Connor’s life and her work around faith, race, gender, and disability. View the list

A devout Catholic who collected peacocks and walked with crutches due to lupus, O’Connor’s illness, religion and experience as a Southerner informed her provocative, sharply aware stories about outsiders, prophets and sinners seeking truth and redemption.

With her distinctive Southern Gothic writing style and characteristic wit and irony, the film investigates how O’Connor didn’t shy away from examining timely themes of racism, religion, socioeconomic disparity and more.

Flannery O’Connor (undated photo)
Courtesy of Joe McTyre
Flannery O’Connor (undated photo)

Over the course of her short but prolific writing career, she published two novels, 32 short stories, numerous columns and commentaries, and won many awards, including the National Book Award and three O. Henry Awards, the annual award given to short stories of exceptional merit.

Filmmaker Quotes:

“As one of the best short story writers the nation has ever produced, O’Connor holds a mirror up to our contemporary moment, navigating the issues of racism, religious faith and disability that still haunt us today,” said co-director Mark Bosco, S.J.

“O’Connor managed to see the humor and the ridiculousness of society while documenting its injustices and imagining moments of redemption,” added co-director Elizabeth Coffman.

Flannery O’Connor (undated photo)
Courtesy of AP
Flannery O’Connor (undated photo)

AMERICAN MASTERS “Flannery” is the winner of the first Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film.

Ken Burns called the film, “an extraordinary documentary that allows us to follow the creative process of one of our country’s greatest writers.”

Mary Steenburgen records narration for "Flannery."
Courtesy of Ted Hardin
Mary Steenburgen records narration for "Flannery."

Watch On Your Schedule:

This film will be available for streaming simultaneously on all station-branded PBS platforms, including and the PBS Video App, which is available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast.

Extend your viewing window with KPBS Passport, video streaming for members supporting KPBS at $60 or more yearly, using your computer, smartphone, tablet, Roku, AppleTV, Amazon Fire or Chromecast. Learn how to activate your benefit now.

The film is available to own on DVD for personal or educational use.

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A production of Long Distance Educational Media in association with THIRTEEN’s AMERICAN MASTERS. The series is a production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET.