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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.”
ONTARIO FILM ASSOCIATION Newsletter
“Engrossing... Fine for filmmaking or photography classes, and especially good for cinema history courses dealing with the early documentary period.”
EDUCATIONAL FILM LIBRARY ASSOCIATION EVALUATIONS
“...a most excellent job! ...I thought the entire film was compelling.”
“Bless the documentary form. Urbane and fascinating...”
Sheila Benson, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
“...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
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