A young Jewish filmmaker’s journey of discovery upon learning that her biological father was black
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Little White Lie tells filmmaker Lacey Schwartz’s personal story of growing up in a typical upper-middle-class Jewish household in Woodstock, NY, with loving parents and a strong sense of her Jewish identity — despite occasional remarks from those around her about how a white girl could have such dark skin. She believed her family’s explanation that her looks were inherited from her dark-skinned Sicilian grandfather but, when her parents abruptly split, her gut started to tell her something different. A moving look at the legacy of family secrets and the healing power of truth, Little White Lie premiered on Independent Lens on Monday, March 23, 2015. You can find the film on www.pbs.org.
Growing up in a mostly all-white community, Lacey never questioned her identity until, at the more diverse Kingston High School, Lacey suddenly doesn’t quite fit in to any racial profile — and her classmates are vocal about noting it. At the urging of her boyfriend Matt, who is of mixed race, she begins to question her true identity and the validity of her parent’s explanation. At 18, Lacey finally confronts her mother and learns the truth: her biological father was not the man who raised her, but an African American man named Rodney with whom her mother had a long term secret affair. Little White Lie is the story of Lacey’s quest for answers and the unraveling of a family secret that rocks her sense of identity to the core. As she strives to reconcile her newfound African American heritage with her Jewish upbringing, she discovers that in order to define herself, she must first come to terms with her parents’ choices and how much she is willing to let their past affect her future.
What defines our identity, our family of origin, or the family that raises us? How do we come to terms with the human foibles of our parents? Piecing together her family history and the story of her dual identity using home videos, archival footage, interviews, and episodes from her own life, Lacey discovers that answering those questions means understanding her parents’ own stories as well as her own.
Visit the Little White Lie companion website (http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/little-white-lie) which features information about the film, including an interview with the filmmaker, preview clips, and more.
About the Filmmaker
Lacey Schwartz (Writer/Producer/Director) is the CEO of the production and outreach organization Truth Aid. She has over a decade of experience in the nonprofit and media sector working with a variety of production companies, networks, and organizations including MTV, BET, @radical.media, Be’chol Lashon/Institute for Jewish Community and Research, and NASCAR. Little White Lie is her first film as a director. She also Executive Produced the narrative film Difret, which won audience awards at the 2014 Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals. Prior to her media career, Schwartz was a professional DJ and public high school math and theater teacher. She has a BA from Georgetown University, a JD from Harvard Law School, and is a member of the New York State Bar. She speaks widely on issues of diversity and the use of media to spark dialogue around important social issues, giving people tools that lead to personal evolution and social change.
This was printed in the April 5, 2015 - April 18, 2015 edition.