Brakhage

Rated NR 75 min. 1999

The debate about whether life imitates art, or vice versa, comes to the fore in this intriguing documentary about one of the most important filmmakers of the avant-garde: Stan Brakhage. Since 1952, Brakhage has created more than three hundred films, ranging from several seconds to several hours. This film explores the exquisite splendor of his films and the intersection of Brakhage's art and life. Brakhage's filmmaking has been personal, often made with only himself as cameraman, engaging with the world around him. Sometimes controversial, the films have raised questions regarding the use of spouses and children as subject matter. In Brakhage, Stan's first wife, Jane, and children speak with frankness of his filmmaking and their relationship to him. Is being the subject of a film the same as being an object of affection? The film also explores Brakhage's second marriage to Marilyn, a woman who refuses to be photographed. Life and art intersect again when, following a period in which he hand-painted films, Brakhage is diagnosed with bladder cancer and suspects the colors he has been using as a carcinogen. In addition to candid interviews with his friends, family, colleagues, and critics, Brakhage combines excerpts from his films as well as those of contemporaries. The original score is by James Tenney, a longtime collaborator. Brakhage is a compelling examination of his art, personal charm, aesthetic influence, and position within the avant-garde world. It is also a fascinating portrait of an artist who continually reinvents himself.

Film Credits

Director: Jim Sheddon

Writer: Jim Sheddon

Producer: Alexa-Frances Shaw

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