Leaning into the Wind: Andy Goldsworthy

A documentary in which we watch the wondrous artist commune with nature.

COURTESY OF SAN FRANCISCO INTL. FILM FESTIVAL

There are two documentaries opening this week about capital-A Artists, and by necessity, both take very different approaches to their very different subjects. Joseph Beuys of Beuys was all about disrupting the social environment, whereas the subject of Thomas Riedelsheimer’s Leaning into the Wind: Andy Goldsworthy is more about working organically with nature. Leaning into the Wind is a follow-up to Riedelsheimer’s 2001 Red Vic mainstay Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time, though Leaning does not require familiarity with the previous film or Goldsworthy’s ephemeral work to be enjoyed.

It’s a very meditative film, following the artist as he does his thing, sometimes as simple as using natural dyes to make patterns on fallen trees, or creating sculptures and small buildings with roots. It doesn’t sound like much on paper, but to watch it is mesmerizing, especially aided by an occasionally spooky Fred Frith score, while the cinematography is further evidence that aerial drone photography has revolutionized the production values of independent filmmaking like nothing since the advent of digital video. Most remarkable about the gentle, charismatic Goldsworthy is that even though he’s on camera, there’s never a sense that he’s seeking attention; this is just a thing that he does, his way of communing with nature. There are certainly worse ways. 

Not rated. 
Opens Friday at the Embarcadero Center Cinema.

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