Lady Bird begins with a Joan Didion quote splashed across the screen: “Anyone who talks about California hedonism has never spent Christmas in Sacramento.” Christmas is mostly for children or, at least, the child part of us. And, few come through childhood unscathed. Greta Gerwig’s charming, brilliantly written, funny, and psychologically real film has a lot to say about mothers and daughters. Being a mother has its challenges. Being a daughter means separating to have your own life. That has its difficulties too, especially when your mom has a hard time letting go. For Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirise Ronan) and...

Shoot Film, Not People: this is the poster filmmaker Peggy Lawson, Leo Hurwitz’s wife, carried during a march against the Vietnam War. As we watch Dialogue With A Woman Departed, Leo’s 4-hour love poem to Peggy, we come back to this sign again and again. We come back to Peggy: marching in protest, hair tied back with bandana, face determined, alert, and wise – a kind of wisdom not so easily won. Peggy’s Texas childhood was difficult. Part Native American, she experienced poverty and discrimination. Her sensitive, intelligent, aware nature detected even then the unfairness of poverty, the struggles of those...

In 1968 Leo Hurwitz and Manny Kirchheimer filmed an early version of Cezanne’s Still Life with Apples, to be called Journey into a Painting at the Museum of Modern Art for the American Federation of Arts. Unlike that film, the expanded Discovery in a Painting, made from the same materials, would be voiceless, the images would simply flow to reveal through framing and editing the intimate interior of the artist’s world. There would be no one but your own sensibilities to guide you. Writing notes like, “I see what an intense and penetrating eye gives back through paint: the warmth of...

Leo Hurwitz’s 29-minute film, Discovery in a Painting, is a beautiful sampling of his personal passion for seeing. Filmed at MoMA in New York City, this film is one of the various ways Leo explores the importance of seeing with open eyes. For Leo, seeing doesn’t just involve seeing what is there. More radically, perhaps, seeing means seeing what others don’t want to see; and seeing what is hidden but can be discovered if we stop to take a look. Watching Discovery in a Painting, I couldn’t help but wonder why Leo chose Paul Cezanne’s Still Life With Apples (1895-1898) as...

This Island, a Leo Hurwitz film - directed and edited by Leo with co-editor Peggy Lawson and cameraman Manfred Kirchheimer - is a film about a museum: The Detroit Institute of Art. But, This Island isn’t just about a museum. It’s about discovering the meaning in art; and that requires looking deeply and openly to see what is there. If we let him, Leo Hurwitz has a few things to teach us about seeing. We are witnesses to that fact as we watch all his films. Light and the City and Discovery in a Landscape in his The Art of...

Seeing isn’t a simple thing. It often takes another person’s eyes to help us understand something in a new way. This is how Leo Hurwitz uses his eyes and camera in his The Art of Seeing series with its three films, Light And The City, Discovery In A Landscape, and This Island. In these films, made between 1968 and 1970 with fellow filmmaker and wife Peggy Lawson, Leo uses a form of empathic communication that he calls, “I will look with your eyes, you will see with mine.” Through this kind of seeing, Leo gives each of us a chance...

Seeing is an art for Leo Hurwitz. He sees what others refuse to see. And, he never turns away from truths that need to reach the light of day. In The Art Of Seeing Series, we are once again privy to the depth of Leo’s capacity to see; how his carefully trained eyes become a sensitive witness to the details of daily life. Leo Hurwitz is a master at candidly capturing people and their surroundings. The question is: how many of us go about our lives in a state of oblivion; too caught up in the immediacy of our narrowed...

How do we find someone – the real person hidden inside? The one who’s been hurt/who struggles/who has his dark demons? How do we understand Hart Crane's suicide; the suicide of an otherwise talented, lively, vivacious, and successful young poet? Leo Hurwitz’s penetrating and poetic script and his camera (with the assistance of fellow cameraman Manfred Kirchheimer), follow John Unterecker, Hart Crane’s biographer (the 800 page “Voyager: A Life Of Hart Crane”), through Unterecker’s researches into Hart Crane’s life. In Search of Hart Crane is composed primarily of fascinating interviews with friends of Hart Crane – those who knew both the...

Cruelty and misunderstanding can make you a monster or a mute. Guillermo del Toro’s compelling allegorical fable, The Shape of Water, shows us that quite well. We can say all the obvious things about this multi-layered film set in its backdrop of the Cold War and a high-security government laboratory in 1962 Baltimore. There’s loneliness and loss; competition between the United States and Russia to have the first man in Space; fear, paranoia, dehumanization and exploitation of people and creatures. There’s the overriding do whatever it takes kind of brutality to be the one on top. Yet, there’s also that...

The Sun and Richard Lippold begins with Leo Hurwitz’s voice, reminiscing. “In the studio of Richard Lippold, where being a musician as well as a sculptor, he played Bach and Pachelbel for me, and where we talked for many hours, an idea came to me which is now this film.” This film, of course, is The Sun and Richard Lippold; a short film about the Sun, inspired by Richard Lippold, the artist, and his Sun. Lippold’s Sun began as a permanent installation in the Oriental Room at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, then moved to a larger...