William Klein discussion in MPLS


The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis is having a discussion evening June 26 with William Klein. They’ve been showing his films all month and admittedly I’ve wanted to go but haven’t found the time to make it over there. I would have prioritized the discussion, but I’ll be in Detroit at a wedding. However, I think it would have been fascinating to go.

The film they showed most recently was a biographical documentary about him entitled “In & Out of Fashion” which hasn’t made it to dvd as far as I can tell although it came out in 1988. I probably should have gotten over there for that one and wil make sure to check it out if it ever does make it to the rental market.

This is how the Walker describes Klein:

William Klein has spent six decades producing works that are raw, direct, and confrontational. As an artist, he has resisted categorization and worked within and across many mediums. His vision embraces a moral conscience and a passion for discord, and his films fall into two disparate but complementary categories: eviscerating social satires and illuminating documentaries. It is mostly through the latter that he betrays his fascination with outsiders—both heroes and outlaws.

Born in 1928 into a Jewish family living in an Irish neighborhood in New York, Klein grew up alienated from mainstream culture. After two years overseas in the U.S. army, he was discharged in France, where he has lived and worked since 1948. His varied career has included studying painting with Fernand Léger at the Sorbonne and shooting fashion spreads for U.S. Vogue. His book New York (Life Is Good & Good for You in New York: Trance Witness Revels) (1956) broke many photographic rules and changed the medium; street photography flourished in its wake. Klein’s directorial debut, the impressionistic Broadway by Light (1958), has been called the first pop film. His first feature-length documentary, Cassius le Grand (1965), received the Grand Prix du Festival International de Tours and was eventually recut with later footage from the fight with George Foreman in Zaire to make Muhammad Ali the Greatest (1974). His first feature film, the satirical Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? (1966), was awarded the Prix Jean Vigo at the Cannes Film Festival.

Klein’s fierce independence is reflected in his work on numerous levels. He has been responsible for all that is displayed, printed, or screened, covering the graphic design and the photography of his books and also designing his films’ costumes, sets, and posters as well as writing their scripts and directing. The Walker produced the first U.S. tour of Klein’s films in 1989—Cinema Outsider: The Films of William Klein. In the past year, they have been the subject of several major retrospectives around the world. Such renewed interest in Klein’s filmography, along with the ever-increasing resonance of his critiques of America, from its consumerism to its foreign policy, prompts another look at his body of work. The Walker is pleased to welcome him back for the first time in 20 years.

So, he’ll be discussing his career and presumably doing a Q & A. Let me know if any WT readers go as I’d love to hear how it went. Hoenstly I haven’t seen too many of his films (although they are mostly on Netflix) but I am quite curious about his career as I’m learning more about him.

Click here for ticket info.

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