Conversations with Willard Van Dykeby Amalie R. Rothschild
A candid portrait of a filmmaker photographer who believed that film could change the world.
In 1935 photographer Willard Van Dyke moved to New York with the belief that films "could change the world" and began a new career as a filmmaker. His name soon became synonymous with social documentary in the U.S. His images of cottonfields, steelmills and industrial towns, and his portraits of unemployed factory workers and their families, provide an invaluable chronicle of those years and have become timeless examples of cinematic art. A candid portrait of a distinguished and outspoken man, this film includes conversations with colleagues Ralph Steiner, Joris Ivens and Donald Richie; footage of Edward Weston, his close friend and mentor; and many excerpts. It explores the dilemma of anyone with a social conscience who must face the harsh realities of earning a living while retaining their integrity. And it reveals a man in his seventies still determined to do good creative work.
Bless the documentary form. How effortlessly it broadens our knowledge of the world or lets us see in the round men and women whose names might only be impersonal landmarks in the history of a period... Urbane and fascinating...
The Los Angeles Times
CONVERSATIONS WITH WILLARD VAN DYKE is good teaching material. Documentary in its own form, it deals with this subject at the personal level of choices, revealing in both form and content the problems and possibilities of the documentary filmmaker. For photography students there is much that delights and begs discussion.
METRO/Media & Education Quarterly
...simultaneously a history of the documentary movement in the United States, a portrait of a dynamic human being, and a sensitive treatment of the process of aging. What we have here is a film of universal quality and usefulness.
The Los Angeles Times
...a well-made documentary which wisely leaves Van Dyke's stills and selected movie sequences to do most of the talking.
The Scotsman, Edinburgh
The film is a most excellent job! Great "pace." The excerpts from earlier films are strangely impressive in their frank combination of propaganda, reality and humanity. I thought the entire film was compelling; Willard was Willard and no doubt about it!
Ansel Adams, photographer
personal letter to filmmaker
AWARDS & SCREENINGS:
- Bronze Award & Best in Fine Arts Category, San Francisco International Film Festival
- Museum of Modern Art "What's Happening" series
- New American Filmmakers Series, The Whitney Museum, New York
- C.I.N.E. Golden Eagle Award
- London Film Festival
- Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Utah
- Sydney & Melbourne Film Festivals
- Edinburgh Film Festival
- Festival dei Popoli, Florence, Italy
- British Broadcasting Corporation
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation
- NDR German Television, Hamburg
- RAISAT TV, Italy
- Biografilm Festival, Italy