An intimate, absorbing documentary about the photographer, artist and filmmaker Robert Frank, whose acutely observed photographs of post-war American society made his name, will premiere in London on May 2nd at Curzon Soho. Link to tickets below.
Director/Producer: Gerald Fox UK 2018 (running time: 86 minutes)
Opening: May 2ndCurzon Soho, London
99 Shaftesbury Ave, Soho, London W1D 5D
In ‘Leaving Home, Coming Home… A Portrait of Robert Frank’ award-winning British writer/director Gerald Fox takes the viewer into the multi-layered world of one of America’s most famous photographers, Robert Frank, who this year celebrates his 94thbirthday.
‘Leaving Home, Coming Home…’, which was shot on location in 2004, was shown at the 2005 Rotterdam Film Festival (where it was a massive audience and critical hit) and Tribeca in New York before Robert Frank, for personal reasons and until last year, decided he didn’t want it to be shown at more than three film festival screenings per year. Ironically this mirrored his own history when his documentary film ‘Cocksucker Blues’ chronicling The Rolling Stones’ American tour of 1972 in support of their album ‘Exile On Main St’ was never released.
“One leaves the film feeling Fox has managed to communicate something important about the real man behind the artist.” (Variety)
Frank’s portraits of American society – high and low – in the 1940s, 50s and 60s were a compulsive mix of spontaneous reportage, observational portraits and a riotous assembly of travel shots taken during his solo voyage across America in a rustbucket of a car. Many of his photos were published in the seminal book, ‘The Americans’ in 1958 with a foreword by Jack Kerouac and was quickly deemed a masterpiece: “This is the photo book that redefined what a photo book could be – personal, poetic, real. Now celebrating its 60thanniversary, Robert Frank’s masterpiece still holds up – the selection of photos, and their sequence and pacing is fresh, rich, generous and stunning.” (LensCulture.com)
‘Leaving Home, Coming Home…’ was shot by Gerald Fox during 2004 at Robert Frank’s homes in New York City and Nova Scotia; Frank talks about growing up in Switzerland, moving to New York City just after World War II and his work as a young photographer snapping life on the streets of North America. He talks about his contemporaries, the seismic changes he’s witnessed in his adopted homeland and about his work, his family, his journey and his legacy.
Writer/director Gerald Fox says: “I wanted to find a stylistic approach and visual texture that mirrored Robert Frank’s own work as it evolved over a very long career; my aim was to make a collaborative documentary that seamlessly interwove between Robert Frank reflecting on a lifetime of image making and his richly textured films and photographs themselves. Robert’s films are as much about the famous figures who have populated his life, including Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, and Mick Jagger as they are about his own autobiography.”
Fox shot the film using different film stocks, black and white, and colour to match Frank’s own photographs and films. As the camera rolls, Frank digs through mountains of memorabilia while reminiscing about growing up as a young Jew in the Nazi era, about moving to a new country, developing his flair for observation and photography, his travels and, most poignantly about the deaths of both his son and daughter, as well as close friends, all of which have become central to his powerful body of work.
The film is not without humour: we are treated to some delightful scenes of art-filled domesticity, banter and laughter between Frank and his second wife, the vibrant artist June Leaf, gaining a unique insight into how they live and work together as independent artists.
“This film enters the world of Robert Frank in a complex, humorous and textured way: by interweaving between his own films, which are maps of his poignant journey through life and the colour new material, the audience will gain rich access to the life and art of one of the most influential and uncompromising artists living today.” (Harpers)