Eight documentary films. Eight consecutive Monday nights. Eight examinations of the way artists challenge boundaries and perceive their roles in society.
The Princeton Public Library kicks off its new summer series called “The Artist in Society” tonight in the Princeton Public Library Community Room at 7 p.m. The first film, “Art and Craft”, examines the life of art forger Mark Landis. Jennifer Grausman, the co director of the film, will participate in a post-screening question and answer session.
The series continues each Monday night at 7 p.m. until the end of August.
The eight films in the series have met with critical acclaim on the film festival circuit, and most have not been shown in New Jersey or are still in limited release.
Public programming librarian Janie Hermann and youth service manager Susan Conlon came up with the idea for the series this spring after noting that a lot of good films about the arts and artists had been released in the last year, or were about to be released.
“Susan and I worked together to curate this series with the goal of selecting documentaries that would reflect a wide range of the arts and also be films that had not been screened locally in Princeton or else only in very limited release,” Hermann said. “We wanted to be able to offer a unique opportunity this summer for our community to see a series of films that would explore a theme, and allow them to see documentaries that they might otherwise miss.”
Funding for this series was made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
“We usually run a summer film series selecting feature films that fit within a specific theme,” Conlon said. ” This year we decided to focus on new and recently released documentary films, building on the public’s interest in viewing and discussing documentaries and the success we have had with these film events at the library.
“The particular films in this series connect to one another on the broader theme of the arts and are all intriguing character studies about their subjects’ unique relationship to art, and their perspectives through the mediums of music, dance and visual arts,” Conlon said. “We are especially pleased to be able to provide speakers for most of the films, from filmmakers who will be attending to people in the area who teach and work in the arts.”
July 7 – Art and Craft
Prolific and still active U.S. art forger Mark Landis has donated precise imitations of works from Matisse to Picasso to museums for three decades. This documentary, which premiered in April at the Tribeca Film Festival, presents a portrait of Landis, who was exposed then tracked for years by a registrar from Cincinnati searching for answers. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, there is a question if Landis, an outsider looking to belong, even knows he is being deceptive at all. Co-directed by Sam Cullman and Jennifer Grausman. Jennifer Grausman will participate in a post-screening Q&A. 1 hour, 20 minutes
July 14 – Finding Vivian Maier
The film traces the life story of the late Vivian Maier, a career nanny whose previously unknown cache of 100,000 photographs has earned her a posthumous reputation as one of America’s most accomplished and insightful street photographers. Michael Dalton, coordinator of the photography and digital imaging department at Mercer County College, will introduce the film and lead a post-screening discussion. 1 hour, 24 minutes.
July 21 – Kiss the Water
Director Eric Steel explores the life and art of Megan Boyd, who for decades perfected the craft of flymaking for fishermen on the edge of the Scottish coast. Hailed as some of the best flies ever made, they have garnered her and her techniques an almost cult status. With a mix of cinematography and hand-painted animation,, the film captures the beauty and mysticism of both Boyd and the fly-fishing art. 1 hour, 20 minutes. Producer Eric Steel will participate in a discussion following the film.
July 28 – Twenty Feet from Stardom
Filmmaker Morgan Neville pays homage to some of the greatest vocalists you’ve never heard of in this documentary. While the lead singers in rock, pop, and R&B are the ones who get the glory, knowledgeable music fans will tell you the backing vocalists often add the touches that make a performance truly memorable. 2 hours.
August 4 – Herb and Dorothy 50X50
This is a follow up to director Magumi Sasaki’s documentary about Herb and Dorothy Vogel, a postal clerk and librarian who managed to build one of the most important contemporary art collections in history. The film follows the Vogels around the country as they launch an unprecedented project giving artworks to one museum in all 50 states. 1 hour, 27 minutes. James Steward, director of the Princeton University Art Museum, will introduce the film and lead the post-screening discussion.
August 11 – Cutie and the Boxer
This New York love story explores the chaotic 40-year marriage of famed boxing painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife Norike. Anxious to shed her role as her overbearing husband’s assistant, Noriko finds an identify of her own. 2 hours.
August 18 – Dance for Me
This 2013 Danish documentary follows two young and deeply passionate dancers. Fourteen-year-old Mie is one of Denmark’s top dancers, and the Russian Egor lives with Mie and her mother. The duo appear to be perfect together. But Egor is having trouble adjusting to his new home, and Mie and her mother also have to get used to the new family member. Katrine Philp follows the young dancers during the thrilling competitions, at rehearsals, in the dressing room and also at home where Mie and Egor have been living for a year like brother and sister. The pair are working hard for the upcoming European dance championship, and so are their mothers. Talking on Skype, they’re eagerly looking forward to their children’s possible success. Egor and Mie have big ambitions themselves, but as the film shows, there’s a lot more at stake for Egor. 2 hours.
August 25 – Six by Sondheim
This HBO television documentary pays tribute to Broadway composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim. Directed by Tony Award-winner and frequent Sondheim collaborator James Lapine, the film is a profile of the composer told through the creation and performance of six of his iconic songs. It weaves dozens of interviews with the composer, rarely seen archival material spanning more than half a century and re-staging’s of three songs produced especially for the film. One hour and twenty minutes. Stacy Wolf, theater professor at Princeton University’s Lewis Center and director of the Princeton Atelier, will lead a post-screening discussion.