Celebrity Fashion:

Celebrity Fashion: Truman Capote

American author Truman Capote (1924 – 1984). (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

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This year marked the 10th anniversary of DOC NYC, New York’s foremost annual documentary film festival. This year featured over 300 films, including a select number of arty documentaries that trace the lives of creatives who have changed the world. In a time where Instagram influences and YouTubers have a bigger platform than most book authors or painters, these films look back on a time when actual creative output was more important than your number of followers. Looking back on a different generation, it reveals a refreshing time, long before one’s creative practice was referred to as a “brand.” From Parisian fashion designers to world-renowned painters, spoken word artists and photojournalists, here are some of the artist films spotted at this year’s festival (and could soon be coming to a movie theatre or streaming service near you).

Lydia Lunch, the War is Never Over

Lydia Lunch is more than just one of the last – real – spoken word artists, she is a legend in her own right. The New York musician and writer came into the spotlight as the frontwoman of New York’s no wave band Teenage Jesus and the Jerks in the 1970s, then became part of the Cinema of Transgression scene in the 1980s alongside Richard Kern. This film, directed by Beth B., follows Lunch on tour, her antics between stage shows and live footage of some of her most groundbreaking work, from Queen of Siam from 1980 to Honeymoon in Red from 1987. If you’re a huge fan of Lydia’s books (So Real It Hurts, Paradoxia, Adulterers Anonymous), keep in mind this documentary is more focused on her music, with guest appearances by Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and Nicolas Jaar.

Capote Tapes

This film details the life of the brilliant writer Truman Capote, the New York socialite, celebrity in his own right, and mind behind Breakfast At Tiffany’s. With archival footage, audio commentary from his friends (including writer Norman Mailer), colleagues (various editors at the New Yorker) and even his family, like Kate Harrington, his adopted daughter, it’s an honest look at Capote, who let his addictions take over. From the man which was once called “a candied tarantula,” this film attempts to reveal the man behind the mask. With countless TV interview clips with Dick Cavett (beyond what you can see on YouTube, by the way), old film footage, it reveals how he was a quiet soul obsessed with perfect sentences—at any cost. As Capote once said: “Don’t let truth get in the way of a good story.”

Elliott Erwitt, Silence Sounds Good

The acclaimed New York photographer seemed to be everywhere in his heyday – at meetings with John F Kennedy, to public speeches by Che Guevara and in the studio with Marilyn Monroe, this documentary of a Manhattan photographer shows his simple, almost comical approach to taking pictures. With narration from one of his closest confidants, his assistant, we follow Erwitt on a trip to Cuba as he shoots locals (and often their dogs) to show a country he has always loved. There are several personal questions he is propositioned with here, but Erwitt is really a private guy. One thing we do know: He loves dogs. A lot.

Scandalous: The True Story of the National Enquirer Film

The National Enquirer was a work of art in itself; it had a daily dose of drama and took a team of artists to create this evolving masterpiece. This film entertains, too. It’s a riveting look at America’s most bombastic tabloid. It shows the time before the Enquirer covered far-out stories, like loch ness monster and UFO sightings. From its humble beginnings, to the years it could afford a strong roster of entertainment reporters, to the times it broke stories before other “legitimate” news sources, it covers it’s glory years in covering the Clinton scandal, the OJ Simpson trial, Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby and Princess Diana. Every editor in chief had their own set of morals (or lack thereof), which set the tone for each era of the publication. The interview with the Enquirer’s former editor Steve Coz details a different—albeit entertaining—time for the media, long before Trump’s friend David Pecker took it over, and used it as a mouthpiece during the 2016 election.

Lifeline: Clyfford Still

New York artist Clyfford Still was one of America’s greatest abstract expressionist painters, but oftentimes he has been overshadowed by other artists from his era, from Mark Rothko to Barnett Newman. This documentary details how important Still’s contribution to modern art really was, from his rough approach to abstract expressionism, to his invention of the line, which divided the canvas (and was later ripped off). Directed by Dennis Scholl, the film speaks to his daughters, alongside artists today who count him as an influence, from Mark Bradford to Julie Mehretu and Julian Schnabel. While most American art documentaries about male artists look at their cascading career towards fame and riches, this one is a kind of counter-narrative, looking at why he walked away from the commercial art world at the height of his career.

Queen of Hearts

New York painter Audrey Flack has had a huge art career, and is collected in the MET, MoMa and Whitney, and yet few don’t know her name. Flack’s career was partly eclipsed by the male modernists in New York in the 1950s – from Jackson Pollock to Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning. In 1976, art critic Hilton Kramer dismissed her paintings as “kitschy still-life’s based on blow-ups of gaudy color photographs,” but she has been an incredible photorealist, armed with a convincing spray brush. Now, the artist finally gets her due in this documentary about her life, looking back as a single mother of two, who today, is 89. The film follows the artist as she teaches art students, revisiting her past artworks and painting in the studio (she sometimes dances while she paints). She also talks frankly about sexism in the art world.

Martin Margiela: In His Own Words

In 2008, the Belgian fashion designer Martin Margiela celebrated 20 years of his couture house, Maison Margiela, then walked away from the fashion world for good. The designer, who refuses to allow his face to be filmed in the documentary, thinks of himself as a sort of Banksy who decries fame (though some photos of him are online). With shoeboxes filled with his fashion archives, he walks through his life with fashion, from runway shows to bad reviews, his childhood and his reflections on the fashion world today.

House of Cardin

The French fashion designer Pierre Cardin might still be in people’s minds, as the designer is having a sprawling retrospective on at the Brooklyn Museum until January 2020. Though his name might not ring a bell to a younger audience—he pioneered modular patterns during the mod 1960s—this film looks at how he remains a private person, even to people on his own team. Who is Pierre Cardin? Nobody really knows, but this film is a soft attempt to decoding the designer beyond his creations. The film includes interviews with fashion luminaries like Naomi Campbell and Jean-Paul G