2016 Sundance Docs in Focus: MAPPLETHORPE: LOOK AT THE PICTURES

mapplethorpeTuesday’s Sundance doc preview closes with: MAPPLETHORPE: LOOK AT THE PICTURES, Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey’s exploration of the life and work of the controversial photographer.

Festival Section:
Documentary Premieres

Sundance Program Description:

Nude men in rubber suits, close-ups of erections, objects shoved in the most intimate of places – these are photographs taken by Robert Mapplethorpe, known by many as the most controversial photographer of the twentieth century. Openly gay, Mapplethorpe took images of male sex, nudity, and fetish to extremes that resulted in his work still being labelled by some as pornography masquerading as art. But less talked about are the more serene, yet striking portraits of flowers, sculptures, and perfectly framed human forms that are equally pioneering and powerful.

In Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey’s MAPPLETHORPE: LOOK AT THE PICTURES, we face his images head on and, explore – through no-holds-barred interviews with his closest colleagues and friends – rich details and anecdotes about what drove this handsome, suburban-born artist to so aggressively upend the conventions of photography. Perhaps most striking about this film is how fresh and ahead of its time his work still feels today. In an era immune to shock value, Mapplethorpe’s images still raise eyebrows and demand attention in ways few photographs ever have.

Some Background:
Directors/Producers: Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato
World of Wonder’s Bailey and Barbato have screened several of their projects at the festival in the past, most recently the Emmy-nominated BECOMING CHAZ (2011). Other films have included INSIDE DEEP THROAT (2005), THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE (2000), and both the documentary and fiction versions of PARTY MONSTER (1998 and 2003).

Producers: Katharina Otto-Bernstein and Mona Card; Associate Producers: Kathrin Lohmann and Jordan Papadopoulos
Film Manufacturers Inc’s Otto-Bernstein is also a Park City alum, previously screening BEAUTOPIA (1998), which she directed and produced. Her follow up doc, ABSOLUTE WILSON, debuted at Berlin. She is also connected to the art world through her husband, Nathan A Bernstein, an art dealer in NYC.

World of Wonder’s Card previously co-produced BECOMING CHAZ and INSIDE DEEP THROAT, and associate produced Sundance doc MISS NAVAJO (2007), while her colleague Papadopoulos’ credits have primarily been on the company’s television series side.

FMI’s Lohmann has credits on both of Otto-Bernstein’s docs, as assistant director/production manager on BEAUTOPIA and co-producer on ABSOLUTE WILSON.

Executive Producer: Sheila Nevins; Senior Producer: Sara Bernstein
HBO Documentary Films’ Nevins is also bringing SUITED, UNLOCKING THE CAGE, BECOMING MIKE NICHOLS, and NOTHING LEFT UNSAID: GLORIA VANDERBILT & ANDERSON COOPER to this year’s festival. Among the long list of her past Park City credits are last year’s GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE PRISON OF BELIEF, LARRY KRAMER IN LOVE & ANGER, KURT COBAIN: MONTAGE OF HECK, and THE JINX: THE LIFE AND DEATHS OF ROBERT DURST

Bernstein, Nevin’s senior producer, also has SUITED and UNLOCKING THE CAGE at this year’s festival. Her past fest credits include COBAIN, THE CASE AGAINST 8 (2014), and WHICH WAY IS THE FRONT LINE FROM HERE? (2013).

Editor: Langdon F Page; Co-Editor: Francy Kachler
Page’s notable past doc credits include SALINGER (Toronto, Telluride), KORAN BY HEART (Tribeca), and CHELSEA ON THE ROCKS (Cannes). This is Kachler’s first Sundance project; her past credits are mainly on World of Wonder’s television projects.

Why You Should Watch:
The World of Wonder duo provide a comprehensive, engaging overview of Mapplethorpe’s career, drawing on the perspectives of those who knew him at various stages in his career, from ambitious art school student to celebrated – and vilified – professional artist. In addition, the film devotes ample room to showcasing his still stunning work, reminding viewers of the confrontational and aesthetic power of his images.

More Info:
For Sundance screening dates and times, click the link in the first paragraph.

Presently, the film does not have a website, Facebook page, or trailer. Should this change before the festival kicks off, I’ll update that information here.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance filmmaker class of 2016 Twitter list.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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