The Washington area's most important film festival, Silverdocs, features screenings of documentaries all this week (June 21 to 27). With so many movies covering so many subjects, the writers at DCist have put together a whole series of reviews, some of capsule length and others that are longer, to help you sort out what is important to see. Today's installment includes two reviews by yours truly: while I do not recommend one of the films I previewed, Malcolm Murray's Camera, Camera, people with an interest in contemporary art should be interested in the chance to view The Woodmans, C. Scott Willis's documentary on the all too short life of American photographer Francesca Woodman (1958–1981):
As the title of this thoughtful and beautifully shot documentary implies, the real subject is not only Francesca but the history of a family of artists, especially Francesca's parents, painter George Woodman and ceramicist Betty Woodman. In few families would neither parent raise an eyebrow when their daughter took up photography as she departed for boarding school and then art school. In even fewer would neither parent be alarmed when their daughter's principal photographic subject became her own nude body.The film also features a subtle, gamelan-like score by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang, played by the So Percussion ensemble. Screenings are tomorrow (June 24, 5:15 pm) and on Saturday night (June 26, 8:30 pm).
Along with Francesca's parents and brother, who is also an artist, the film features interviews with Francesca's friends from childhood and art school, one of her models in Italy, a former boyfriend, and other artist friends. A much richer understanding of her family life — her parents' obsessive work habits (which she inherited), the family's homes in the United States and Italy, all filled with art, readings from her journal — comes gradually into focus.