The Low Road

It took filmmaker Terry Zwigoff nine years to make the documentary Crumb, about the underground comic artist of the same name. Zwigoff was broke, suffering chronic back pain so bad it made him contemplate suicide, unable to get investors interested in his version of the film — the horrific truth of R. Crumb and his family, who suffered at the hands of an abusive father — rather than an MTV-style celebration with animated versions of the artist’s best-known characters. But Zwigoff stayed with his vision, capturing astonishingly candid footage depicting the ways each surviving family member dealt with the abuse, including agoraphobia, hoarding, promiscuity, quasi-religious obsessions with penance and self-cleansing — and artwork. With interviews of Crumb’s ex-wives as well as other comic artists and cultural luminaries, Zwigoff assembled a film in 1994 that was called the best of the year by prominent film critics, won numerous awards in the U.S. and overseas, earned praise and support of fellow outsider David Lynch, and launched his career as a force in Hollywood. Since then he has made three films (Ghost World, Bad Santa, and Art School Confidential), two of those with Daniel Clowes, also a comic-book artist. Zwigoff’s appearance is part of the Radical Directing Lecture Series, which highlights approaches to filmmaking that veer sharply from the traditional. We’d say Zwigoff had that figured out, oh, about 25 years ago.
Wed., Feb. 29, 7:30 p.m., 2012

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