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Conversations with Willard Van Dyke

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In 1935 photographer Willard Van Dyke moved to New York with the belief that films "could change the world" and began a new career as a filmmaker. His name soon became synonymous with social documentary in the U.S. His images of cottonfields, steelmills and industrial towns, and his portraits of unemployed factory workers and their families, provide an invaluable chronicle of those years and have become timeless examples of cinematic art. A candid portrait of a distinguished and outspoken man, this film includes conversations with colleagues Ralph Steiner, Joris Ivens and Donald Richie; footage of Edward Weston, his close friend and mentor; and many excerpts. It explores the dilemma of anyone with a social conscience who must face the harsh realities of earning a living while retaining their integrity. And it reveals a man in his seventies still determined to do good creative work.

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“...simultaneously a history of the documentary movement in the United States, a portrait of a dynamic human being, and a sensitive treatment of the process of aging. What we have here is a film of universal quality and usefulness.”



“Engrossing... Fine for filmmaking or photography classes, and especially good for cinema history courses dealing with the early documentary period.”



“...a most excellent job! ...I thought the entire film was compelling.”



“Bless the documentary form. Urbane and fascinating...”



“...engaging throughout and proves worthy viewing. Van Dyke is a sympathetic subject who effortlessly carries the burden of the camera’s hour-long scrutiny.”

Todd McCarthy, VARIETY


“Public libraries will want to schedule this unique and admiring production for patrons interested in film and photography, while colleges will find it appropriate for their students of those disciplines.”

THE BOOKLIST, American Library Association


BRONZE AWARD and BEST in Fine Arts Category 1981 San Francisco International Film Festival


1982 Sundance Film & Video Festival, Park City, Utah

British Broadcasting Corporation, 1983 / NDR German TV, Hamburg, 1987


Special “What\'s Happening” Program Invitational Tribute to Willard Van Dyke, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1981

Festival dei Popoli, Florence, Italy 1982

America in the New Deal, Modena, Italy 1985

Biografilm Festival, Bologna, Italy 2007


Amalie R. Rothschild  Amalie R. Rothschild has a multi-faceted background in Graphic Design, Photography, Computer Imaging, Motion Picture and Video Production. She has a BFA (1967) in Graphic Design from Rhode Island School of Design where she spent her senior year on their European Honors Program in Rome, Italy. She studied photography with Harry Callahan, and has an MFA (1969) in Film Production from New York University’s Institute of Film and Television where she also studied photography with Paul Caponigro. From 1968 to 1974 she worked extensively as a free-lance photographer in the music field, her photographs appearing in The New York Times, Newsweek, Time-Life Books, Life Magazine, The Village Voice, Rolling Stone, After Dark and many other publications. From 1969 to 1971 she worked with the Joshua Light Show at the Fillmore East Theater in New York producing special effects photography, slides, graphics, films and film loops used during performances and was considered the theater’s unofficial house photographer. She had unlimited access onstage and backstage to all the happenings at the Fillmore East, and was also on staff at the 1969 Woodstock Festival. During that period she photographed most of the major rock music events on the East Coast including the 1969 Newport Festival, Tanglewood 1969 & 1970, The Who’s 1969 US premiere of their rock opera Tommy, the Rolling Stones at Madison Square Garden in November 1969, Bob Dylan’s 1974 tour, and, in England, the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival. Rolling Stone featured one of her photographs of Bob Dylan on the cover of Issue 43. Bobbs Merrill devoted 30 pages to her work in their 1972 book The Photography of Rock. She was one of the two photographers for the 1987 Prentice Hall book The Food Lovers Guide to the Real New York. A selection of her work is in the Abbeville Press book Radical Rags (1990), Bill Graham Presents: My Life Inside Rock and Out (Doubleday, 1992), Cherokee Mist: The Lost Writings of Jimi Hendrix (HarperCollins, 1993), Sweet Chaos: The Grateful Dead’s American Adventure (Clarkson Potter, 1998), Dylan (Metro Books, 1998), Woodstock: An Inside Look at the Movie that Shook Up the World and Defined a Generation (1999, Michael Wiese Prod), A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead (Broadway Books/Random House, 2002), Jimi Hendrix–Musician (Backbeat Books, UK, 2004), Classic Hendrix (Genesis Publications, 2004), Grateful Dead Gear (Backbeat Books U.S., 2006), Echoes: The Complete History of Pink Floyd (Mind Head Publishing, UK, 2007), The Grateful Dead: 365 Days (Abrams, 2008), and Fire and Rain (Da Capo Press, 2011) among many others. Since 1994 the Corbis/Bettmann Archive represents and licenses her photographs for editorial use. From 1997 until its closing in 2006 she was with the Star File Photo Agency. In 1999 Acid Test Productions/Thunder’s Mouth Press published a hardcover monograph of her photographs, Live at the Fillmore East: A Photographic Memoir. In 2000 it came out in a softcover edition and has been reprinted six times. A skilled and veteran filmmaker, she has been producing and directing documentaries since 1969 with special emphasis on films about social issues as revealed through the lives of people in the arts. Her film PAINTING THE TOWN: The Illusionistic Murals of Richard Haas (1990) is about the architectural trompe l’oeil mural artist whose witty work is transforming the American urban landscape. It premiered at the 1990 Sundance Film Festival and screened in the New Directors/New Films Series co-sponsored by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and The Museum of Modern Art. It won a Golden Gate Award at the 1990 San Francisco International Film Festival, a CINE Golden Eagle, a Blue Ribbon and the “Emily” Best of Festival Award at the 1990 American Film and Video Festival, and the 2nd Award at Media Save Art at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome in 1991. Its PBS broadcast was in 1991. In both 1990 and 1992 it was shown for a month on all long-haul flights to Hong Kong by Cathay Pacific Airlines, and in 1993 was licensed by British Airways. In 1998 it was acquired by RAISAT in Italy. Her film CONVERSATIONS WITH WILLARD VAN DYKE, about the photographer (co-founder of Group f/64), filmmaker (The City, Valley Town) and first director of the Department of Film at the Museum of Modern Art, won the BEST in Fine Arts and the BRONZE Award at the 1981 San Francisco International Film Festival and was broadcast by the BBC, the Australian Broadcasting Corp., TV New Zealand, WNET Channel 13, NDR German TV and RAISAT. It is distributed by The Museum of Modern Art in New York and New Day Films. All of her films, including others like WOO WHO? MAY WILSON (1969), IT HAPPENS TO US (1972), and NANA, MOM AND ME (1974), have been shown throughout the world in film festivals such as: London, Edinburgh, Nyon, Rotterdam, New Delhi, Sydney, Melbourne, Wellington, Tampere, Pesaro and the Festival dei Popoli in Florence, Italy, and have been showcased in Museums across the United States including The Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney, the Smithsonian Institution, the Chicago Art Institute, St. Louis Museum, Walker Art Center, High Museum in Atlanta, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Baltimore Museum of Art, Amon Carter Museum, Pacific Film Archive and the National Gallery of Art, among many others. One of the original founders in 1971 of New Day Films, the pioneering self-distribution cooperative still going strong, she has received many production grants including the American Film Institute Independent Filmmaker grant (1973); National Endowment for the Arts 1977, 1978, 1980, 1985, 1987; New York State Council on the Arts 1978, 1987; Ohio Joint Program in the Arts and Humanities 1985; Pinewood Foundation 1978; and John Hay Whitney 1978, 1980. From 1976-78 she taught film production at New York University, and in 1977 she was invited by Margaret Mead to lecture and show her film NANA, MOM AND ME at the Kin and Communities Symposium at the Smithsonian Institution. In 2007 it won an award for its pioneering role in autobiographical cinema at the Biografilm Festival in Bologna, Italy. She has been honored with a one-woman exhibition of her films at the Sheldon Film Theater in Lincoln, Nebraska, a “What’s Happening” program at The Museum of Modern Art in NY, and other dedicated shows of her work at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, CA, the High Museum in Atlanta, among others. In 2008 she had a mini retrospective of her films at the International Festival of Women’s Films in Florence, Italy. She lectures and shows her films frequently at museums, libraries, schools, colleges and universities. Between 1982 and 1987 she did programs under the auspices of the U.S. Information Service in New Zealand, Turkey, India, Indonesia, Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China. She also does workshops and seminars on photography and digital imaging at the university level. She is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who of American Women, Who’s Who in the World, and Who’s Who in Entertainment. In addition, she speaks Italian fluently and since 1983 divides her time between New York and Italy where she is developing new projects. In 2002, after 19 years in Rome, she moved to Florence and has, currently, in the works: a feature length film based on her Fillmore East book, a video documentary on the cult of the olive and olive oil production, and on-going digital photography creation and experimentation with Adobe Photoshop and other programs on the Macintosh computer platform, in addition to preparing exhibitions and printing her photographs, as well as creating a major art book and the catalogue raisonné of the work of her artist mother who died in November 2001. She had her first solo exhibition of her rock music pictures from June 18 to August 10, 1997 at the SoHo Triad Fine Arts Gallery in New York City. Her second show was from April 18 to May 17, 1998 at the Gomez Gallery in Baltimore, Maryland, and her third exhibition was from February 8 to May 12, 1999 in the corporate headquarters gallery of the music television cable channel VH1 Music First in the Viacom Building in NYC. She had a photograph in the International Center for Photography’s July 1999 Celebrity Auction; a selection of her work hangs in Hard Rock Cafes in NYC, St. Louis and Rome, Italy; in July 2000 her photograph of Tina Turner and Janis Joplin singing together was given as a gift to President Clinton and displayed in the Music Room at the White House. It is also in the private collections of Lenny Kravitz, John Sykes, Dr. Jonathan Samet and many others. Eleven of her pictures are featured in the permanent collection of the Experience Music Project Museum in Seattle. Two photographs were in the RockX-Posed Tour of The Kodak Rock Photography Collection which toured the U.S. in 2003. Her work is seen frequently on covers and in the booklets of compact disc reissues by Sony Music, Electra, Columbia, Grateful Dead Merchandising, Rhino and other record labels and in magazines like Mojo. She is represented by the Bonni Benrubi Gallery in New York, the Govinda Gallery in Washington, D.C, David Barenholtz in Los Angeles, the Monroe Gallery of Photography in Santa Fe, Michele Mosko Fine Art in Denver, and Snap Galleries in London, England. Solo exhibitions include April 6–May 21, 2000 at SoHo Triad Fine Arts, October 7–November 4, 2000 at Gomez, August 3 to September 8, 2001 at Govinda, and May 9–June 23, 2002 at Soho Triad Fine Arts. When Soho Triad went out of business in 2003 she moved to the Staley-Wise Gallery and in November, 2009 to the Bonni Benrubi Gallery, both in New York City. A selection of her work was in the group shows The Sixties at Bonni Benrubi, NYC 1999; La Revolución del Rock & Roll Fototeca de Cuba, Havana, Cuba 2002; and Icons Monroe Gallery, Santa Fe 2004. Sixteen of her photographs were included in the exhibition Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era at the Tate Liverpool, U.K. May 27–September 25, 2005 and in its travelling versions in Frankfurt, Germany and Vienna, Austria in 2006, and the Whitney Museum in NYC May through September 2007. Recent exhibitions: one-woman shows at Snap Galleries June 4–July 30, 2005; Studio Art Centers International Gallery, Florence, Italy October 6–November 6, 2005; the Tremaine Gallery, Lakeville, CT January 6 to February 2, 2007; MAMBO at Palazzo Re Enzo, Bologna, Italy May 31–June 24, 2007; the David Gallery, Los Angeles June 23–August 18, 2007; the S.A.C.I. Gallery, Florence, Italy February 16 to March 6, 2009; a two-person exhibition with reknowned graphic artist Stanley Mouse at Michele Mosko Fine Art, Denver, CO May 6 to August 15, 2009; and at the Arvada Center for the Arts & Humanities, Arvada (Denver), CO June 10 to August 29, 2010. Selected group shows: The Official Bob Dylan Exhibition Proud Galleries, London, England 2005; The Sixties–Decade of Change Holden Luntz Gallery, Palm Beach 2005; Pink Floyd: Shine on you Crazy Diamond Redferns Gallery, London, England February–April 2006; Music and Fashion Staley-Wise Gallery, NYC May 18–August 17, 2007; Classic Black & White Photography, The Arts Company, Nashville, TN November 3–22, 2007; Live from New York City, Bonni Benrubi Gallery, New York June 18 to September 12, 2009; We Want Miles, Musée de la Musique, Paris, France October 16, 2009 to January 17, 2010 and Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Québec, Canada April 30 to August 29, 2010; The Art of Sound: Photographs of Musicians and Music, Monroe Gallery, February 5 to April 11, 2010; The Grateful Dead: Now Playing at the New York Historical Society, NYHS March 5 to September 5, 2010; Six Decades of Rock’n’Roll, Amerika Haus, Munich, Germany March 25 to July 5, 2010; 50 Years of Rock and Roll Through the Eyes of Women Photographers, various galleries and museums in Eastern Europe, June 2011 to June 2014        

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