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THE B-SIDE: ELSA DORFMAN’S PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY

THE B-SIDE: ELSA DORFMAN’S PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY

ERROL MORRIS · USA · 2016 · 76 mins · PG
IMDBRotten Tomatoes

This portrait of the artist as an old woman is a gentle-hearted gem, as profoundly subtle as it is subtly profound.

The film follows the septuagenarian Elsa Dorfman as she leafs through her filing cabinets and explains how various snapshots came to be. Dorfman was 28 before she ever picked up a camera; she managed to meet a host of Beat generation literary characters, in particular Allen Ginsberg. The great poet became one of Dorfman’s most frequent subjects, which grew to include Bob Dylan, Anais Nin, Jorge Luis Borges, and Joni Mitchell.

As wonderful as those black-and-white shots are, it wasn’t until the 1980s that she embraced her most famous piece of equipment: the giant, stationary Polaroid 20×24 camera, on which she took thousands of oversized color portraits, shooting famous artists, herself, and ordinary families alike.

She makes for excellent company: a modest, good-humored, unpretentious craftswoman who nonetheless isn’t afraid to praise her own work when she knows it’s worthy of it. Director Errol Morris is obviously enraptured. --Variety

“AN AFFECTIONATE AND DECEPTIVELY LAYERED PORTRAIT OF A SINGLUAR CHARACTER.” Sight & Sound
“AN ENDLESSLY CHARMING FILM FOCUSED ON A WOMAN WHOSE VIEW OF LIFE IS ONE TO BE ENVIED.” The Guardian
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