Being outside of the art world, aside from the occasional sensation that comes erupting out of some gallery and to national (and sometimes international) notoriety, the Woodmans were outside my limited vision, but the image that accompanied C. Scott Willis’ documentary in the festival catalogue haunted me.
The Woodmans is just as haunting as the image that presents it, an untitled photograph taken by the immensely talented Francesca Woodman who died at the young age of 22, before her art was really recognized. But Willis’ film isn’t simply a documentary of a young, fragile, despondent artist but an exploration, via a look at Francesca’s life within her family and in the art world, of the pressure, often self inflicted, of success.
Predominantly told through interviews with her parents, both successful artists, we come to meet a talented, self assured young woman who was sure of her talent and tackled her art form head on. She was ahead of the curve and as is usually the case, the art world was slow to take notice, but what of her parents? They’re not portrayed as villains, uncaring parents who saw their daughter’s suffering and didn’t step in to help, but the dynamic in this family of artists shaped the driven person Francesca became and her parents, particularly her father George, seemed to see their daughter as more of a colleague than their daughter.
The Woodmans is, essentially, the story of a young artists’ early passing and how her family has managed to overcome the tragedy of loss through their work and how their work has been affected by the death of their daughter. Accompanied by many of Francesca’s photographs, diary entries and films, along with a beautiful score from David Lang, The Woodmans is an immediately engaging, enlightening look at the life of an artist.
See VIFF screening schedule for show times.
Trailer tucked under the seats.
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