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Friday, March 24, 2017, 19:00 - 21:30

Turning the lens on the seminal photographer-filmmaker-prickly character
Sneak Preview Screening: "DON'T BLINK - ROBERT FRANK"
followed by a Q&A session with director Laura Israel

Friday, March 24 at 7:00 pmDONT BLINK- ROBERT FRANK 356p
In English with Japanese subtitles
USA, 2015  82 minutes    

Writer, director, editor: Laura Israel
Featuring: Robert Frank, June Leaf, Ed Lachman, Tom Jarmusch
Film courtesy of TV Man Union

"I hate these f***ing interviews," complains a well-dressed man to his interlocutor in "Don't Blink - Robert Frank." He's sitting in front of a beautiful New York City backdrop, circa 1988, getting increasingly irritated. Finally he growls, "I can't stand to be pinned in front of a camera, because I do that to people. I don't want it to be done to me!" And he gets up and walks out of frame.

Meet Robert Frank, the irascible, reclusive subject of Laura Israel's immersive documentary. A sprightly 90 years old when the film was made, and a little more relaxed in front of the camera than he was in the 1980s, the Swiss-born curmudgeon reveals he has a surprisingly sanguine character in "Don't Blink."

Of course, it helps that the woman behind the camera is his long-time collaborator. Their intimacy has allowed Israel to tap into a wealth of archival images and footage, as well as to capture Frank in a variety of settings, from his New York loft to his isolated cabin in Nova Scotia. Like a visual game of free association that pays tribute to Frank's purposely imperfect, impromptu, personal style, "Don't Blink" is cut together as if it were one of the restless artist's frequent road trips, with rapid-fire montages of his photographic and film work, from his fashion-snapping years with Harper's Bazaar and his freelance photojournalism, to his handmade-style films and his friendships with Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and other assorted counterculture artists, as well as with the everyday people who continue to fascinate him.

Frank first came to fame in 1958 with the French publication of his seminal book "The Americans," which was the result of a 9-month, 10,000-mile, 30-state journey (funded by a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship) through his adopted country. Culled from 767 rolls of film and 27,000 images, the book's racially-charged depictions of America's downtrodden, lonely and marginalized, were haunting and controversial. One critic dubbed Frank's work a "sad poem for sick people," while another slammed the "meaningless blur, grainy, muddy exposure, drunken horizons and general sloppiness."

But "The Americans" completely revolutionized the art of photography, and is now considered the most influential photo book of the 20th century. As "Don't Blink" reveals, Frank has continued to create at an exhaustive pace, embracing work for its energizing and its healing properties (his two children died tragically young), and still finding new stories to tell about his fellow outsider Americans. "These are good people," he says, "these marginal people who live at the edge. They interest me." And then he snaps another shot to add to his one-of-a-kind collection.

Join us for this sneak preview of "Don't Blink - Robert Frank" before it opens on April 29 at Bunkamura Le Cinema.

For more:
For more (in Japanese):

LAURA ISRAEL began editing award-winning commercials and music videos while still a film student at New York University. By the time she graduated, she had formed her own editorial company, Assemblage. Her client list has included acclaimed musicians John Lurie, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Keith Richards, Sonic Youth, New Order, Ziggy Marley and David Byrne, and artists Laurie Simmons and Robert Frank. She began editing Frank's films in the early 1990s, as well as archiving and preserving them, and they have screened all over the world and won many awards. Israel was named in Filmmaker Magazine's inaugural "25 New Faces of Independent Film" in 2011. Her directorial debut, the windpower documentary "Windfall," premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival 2009 and won the top prize at Doc NYC.

You may attend the Q&A without attending the screening, but you will not have seating priority. Please reserve in advance, still & TV cameras inclusive, at the FCCJ Reception Desk (3211-3161) or register below. All film screenings are private, noncommercial events primarily for FCCJ members and their guests.     

- Karen Severns, Film Committee

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