Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jason goes to Docfest--Day 4

And I believe it was the best night of the festival so far. I saw two features and one short, starting with the short AMONG THE GIANTS. In New York City there's a workshop that teaches and practices adaptive design. It's partly a story of people with unique disabilities (although I hesitate to use that term). Tamara Morgan is a little person with a brittle bone disease. She gets around okay in her wheelchair, but on the bustling streets she's often nearly tripped or run over. Raven DeSayles is a young girl, very athletic despite having no use of her legs. Her chair in school isn't even tall enough for her to see her work. And so the workshop designs and builds tools to help them, while also serving as a creative outlet for the students there. It's pretty amazing what you can build out of scrap cardboard.

That led into BETWEEN THE FOLDS, perhaps the definitive movie on modern origami. This isn't folding crude swans, this is incredibly detailed art and science. The film follows some fascinating people--people who make their own paper, artists who craft intricately detailed figures, scientists who study the math of origami (including the youngest professor ever at MIT), even post-modernists who rebel against traditional technique and discover what shapes can be made with a single fold. And there are Les Anarchistes, who crumple and wave paper around and still end up with bizarre mushroom creations. I can't do this movie justice. It really has to be seen to be appreciated. I can tell you it inspired me to fold my audience award ballot into a 5 (top score. I'm glad we don't rate them on a scale of 1 to 10).

And then I went over to the Little Roxie to complete a night of extreme art (odd, this year's Docfest has had more art and less music than typical) with WAITING FOR HOCKNEY. Billy Pappas is an artist from Baltimore who has always been good at realistic representation of figures. Working as a waiter, he met the...eccentric architect Larry Link. They got to talking, and Link encouraged him (and financed him) to spend full time drawing and find a new hyper-realism in his work. Billy re-taught himself everything. He learned to draw hair not just as a shape but as individual strands. He re-learned eyes, lips, everything. He learned to not just draw skin but to detail every pore. And he spent 8 1/2 years recreating a famous photo of Marylin Monroe in greater detail than the photo ever had. He's spend months drawing with a superfine pencil under a 20X magnifying glass. After four years, his arm was so sore he had to suspend it in a sling to keep working. He created something that has never been done, and it's amazing. But all that is past by the time the movie starts. At the opening credits he's already finished the drawing and is searching for his audience. Specifically, art superstar David Hockney. Billy believes if Hockney sees his work that A) he'll be amazed and B) he will make a phone call that will result in a commission for his next work and he'll finally be a working artist (oh yeah, the $300,000 Link gave him over the course of the drawing is a loan). So the movie follows him as he meets and amazes influential people in the art world who become his small support group trying to get him his audience with Hockney. The movie becomes something of a suspense thriller, as we hope desperately for all his work to pay off. This is heightened by the fact that the audience is only told of the drawing. We won't get to see it until/unless Hockney sees it, and dammit I wanted to see it! But no spoilers, you'll have to see it yourself. Of course, you could just click here.

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