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Held Over! Must End Tues, Aug 9


Robert Frank, now 91 years old, is among the most influential artists of the last half-century. His seminal volume, The Americans, published in 1958, records the Swiss-born photographer’s candid reactions to peculiarly American versions of poverty and racism. Today it is a classic work that helped define the off-the-cuff, idiosyncratic elegance that are hallmarks of Frank’s artistry. Director Laura Israel (Frank’s longtime film editor) and producer Melinda Shopsin were given unprecedented access to the notably irascible artist. The assembled portrait is not unlike Frank’s own movies – rough around the edges and brimming with surprises and insights – calling to mind Frank’s quintessential underground movie, the 1959 Beat short, PULL MY DAISY (co-directed by Alfred Leslie). DON’T BLINK includes clips from Frank’s rarely seen movies, among them ME AND MY BROTHER and COCKSUCKER BLUES. The soundtrack includes Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, Yo La Tengo, and Tom Waits.



“Critic’s Pick. Compact, fast-moving… (Frank is) a quintessential New York artist of a certain vintage and temperament, a resident of the eclectic Bohemia that defined an important part of the city’s cultural life. You leave with a vivid sense of the man’s living presence… an impressive achievement. We can be grateful that Mr. Frank still walks among us, his eyes wide open.”
– A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“The world’s pre-eminent living photographer.”
– Nicholas Dawidoff, The New York Times Magazine

“Critic’s Pick! A vigorous documentary surveying the career and life of the photographer/film-maker/one-man Beat happening. Israel’s willingness to honor Frank’s own vision powers the film (beginning with) a scintillating early montage, crisply edited by Alex Bingham... Photographs from The Americans, the On The Road of photography books…still thrill, blunt and revelatory almost sixty years later. Supplemented with beautiful reminiscences about the Beats, Bleecker Stret, and winters in Nova Scotia.”
– Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice

“An illuminating biopic of the game-changing photographer/filmmaker, made by his longtime moving-image archivist and editor, clearly with the full cooperation and enjoyment of its irascible subject.”
– Amy Taubin, Artforum

“An informal portrait of Mr. Frank, now 90, in which the photographer and documentary filmmaker tells the editor-director Laura Israel his own story. Mr. Frank’s book, The Americans, his groundbreaking survey of everyday American faces photographed in the tradition of Walker Evans, remains his crowning achievement. Mr. Frank personifies a defiant individuality.”
– Stephen Holden, The New York Times

“Intimate, impressionistic, and irascibly entertaining. (A) life-spanning collage of creative passions, heartfelt memories, and curmudgeonly wisdom. The reclusive man-of-the-hour himself is our begrudgingly yet riotously no-bullshit guide.”
– Aaron Hillis, Village Voice

“This is Robert Frank the funny guy, the experimental filmmaker, the fan of the ‘60s Beat scene. What also emerges is Frank’s embrace of creative work as the antidote to personal tragedy. DON’T BLINK features gorgeous full-frame representations of his still photographs and clips from most, if not all, of his movies, including the legendary COCKSUCKER BLUES, commissioned – and buried – by the Rolling Stones, and PULL MY DAISY, a silent film with voiceover by Jack Kerouac.”
– Judy Gelman Myers, American Photo Magazine

“Reflecting Frank’s style, the unconventional documentary is a lively montage of images, sounds and memories from the photographer’s eventful life.”
– Elsa Keslassy, Variety


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DON’T BLINK: Q & A with filmmaker Laura Israel, moderated/interviewed by author Nicholas Dawidoff

Recorded July 13, 2016

Film Forum