Monday, March 3, 2008

Leibovitz documentary

This is an excellent PBS documentary on master photographer, Annie Leibovitz.

The program follows her to a number of spectacular photo-shoots on location, on tour with rock stars and in the studios of ballet and dance greats such as Mark Morris - but it also traces her family history, and her involvement with Rolling Stone magazine, Vanity Fair, and Vogue (all her editors are interviewed, but the footage of RS founder Jann Wenner is the most interesting). Many cult figures and celebrities appear in the film's historic clips, or are interviewed - including Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe, Yoko Ono, Mick Jagger, Mikhail Baryshnikov etc.

The site PBS has set up for the movie is superb. Here is the beginning of the feature essay:

Born in 1949 in Waterbury, Connecticut, Annie Leibovitz enrolled in the San Francisco Art Institute intent on studying painting. It was not until she traveled to Japan with her mother the summer after her sophomore year that she discovered her interest in taking photographs. When she returned to San Francisco that fall, she began taking night classes in photography. Time spent on a kibbutz in Israel allowed her to hone her skills further.
A particularly moving segment is dedicated to her relationship with Susan Sontag, but we also get the view point of her mother, her sisters (one of whom, Barbara Leibovitz directed the doc.), and her daughters...

Leibovitz met Susan Sontag in 1989 while photographing the writer for her book AIDS AND ITS METAPHORS. "I remember going out to dinner with her and just sweating through my clothes because I thought I couldn't talk to her," Leibovitz said in an interview with THE NEW YORK TIMES late last year. Sontag told her, "You're good, but you could be better." Though the two kept separate apartments, their relationship lasted until Sontag's death in late 2004.

Be sure to also click on the Gallery link to see samples of Leibovitz' best shots. I particularly dig her portrait work (Sontag, fx.), but Sting as a mud-man and Whoopie Goldberg immersed in milk are also cool!

More superb Leibovitz work here from The New York Times (essay by Sontag can be accessed from there too)...

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