It seems that there is no shortage of documentary filmmakers out there. Many are dedicated to shedding light on a cause they feel strongly about or a particular topic that interests them. Yet few are like Bert Shapiro. Once in the publishing industry, the European-born Shapiro discovered a passion for filmmaking after he retired. This distinguishes him from many in the film world. The award-winning story-teller grew up in the late 1920's and came to the United States during one of its most exciting decades: the 60's.
His experiences have led to the development of countless film ideas. One in particular, Speaking for Myself, illustrates the lives of eight artist's living in New York City. The film follows the extraordinary world of artists fighting to make their presence felt in an unforgiving city. These talented performers include: a pianist (Jenny Lin), noh actor (Toshinori Hamada), actress (Irma Sandrey), choreographer (Carlos Fittante), organist (Renée Anne Louprette),Tabla Virtuoso (Samir Chatterjee), poet (Tracie Morris) and composer (Elliott Sharp).
Shapiro set out to showcase a raw and honest portrayal of New York life rather than a distilled Hollywood version of what's it's like to live in the city. His refreshing exploration serves as a sharp contrast to fictitious accounts of what it means to ruthlessly pursue a creative profession. Of the film's content he has said:
I originally set out to make a film about the unseen NYC and spent more than two years wandering the streets with a camera, seeking unexpected sights and events. I accumulated many hours of this unusual footage. Once I started editing, however, I began to realize that I'd end up with a more satisfying, personal and meaningful result, if I used this material as a background/foundation to a film about how artists survive in Manhattan.
The Anthology Film Archives in Manhattan has recognized Shapiro's brilliant work and are screening the film as part of their New Directors night. A Q&A with the director and talent featured in the film will also take place. For those outside of the NY area, the film may be rented or purchased on Amazon. For more information on the filmmaker's work, vist PheasantsEye.com.
The film is set to screen in NYC at on Tuesday, March 13th, 6:00PM, Tickets $6