A Prodigy's Fall

In the winter of 1981, a 22-year old woman jumped from a loft on New York’s East Side. She was rendered unrecognizable and carried no identification so it took time for her family members to realize their loss. It took the rest of the world some time longer. The Woodmans, a documentary directed by C. Scott Willis, explores the short life of Francesca Woodman, whose efflorescent black-and-white self-portraits have come to rest on the walls of New York museums including the Met, Whitney, and MOMA. Most of Woodman’s work was created when she was still a student -- some of it as early as age 13 – which makes Woodman the closest thing the world of photography had to a child prodigy. Like crumbling pages of some mystical Edwardian poet, her explorations of form are delicate, tender, and saturated with meaning. It is more lyrical terrain than the battle zones that Willis once navigated for CNN and ABC. But The Woodmans is not merely an ode to one woman’s vision. With unparalleled access to diaries, videos, family members, and friends, Willis follows the stress fractures within her psyche, her family, and the New York art world as a whole that led to ruin. The Woodmans screens in conjunction with a major retrospective at SFMOMA; Willis and museum curator Corey Keller appear at the 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. screenings on Nov. 18.
Nov. 18-24, 2011

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