Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lucy Massie Phenix

Karen Karnes with filmmaker Lucy Massie Phenix

Life has taken unexpected turns recently – good and bad, big and small.  

I received a surprising call from Lucy Massie Phenix, who has always been something of a role model for me as a documentary filmmaker.  Lucy Phenix is an exceptional filmmaker who is mostly known for social documentaries like You Got to Move (1985) about community activists.  I first saw it when I was a fledging filmmaker and was blown away. I saw it again recently and it still holds up. Milestone is coming out with the 25th anniversary edition with bonus track interviews with the filmmaker and others (more on that soon). 

I had never spoken to Lucy Phenix before, but just as I suspected, found her to be so very intelligent, compassionate and creative.  She wanted me to collaborate on a bonus track with her.  Astonishing!

We talked and emailed about different things and sent each other a film we had made.  Lucy lives in CA and I’m in SC. Just today, I viewed Lucy’s Don’t Know Will See: The Work of Karen Karnes.  It is a beautiful, lyrical documentary about an 85+ year-old potter.  Of course, you should see it if you love pottery and the 20th century craft movement, of course. See it to learn about the creative process. See it to learn how to grow old well. See it because Ms. Karnes is a joy.

What I found profoundly moving about the film portrait is that Ms. Karnes is such a vibrant and spirited artist without the slightest bit of pretension. She would be the first to admit that she is still learning and experimenting.  The tile of the film, Don’t Know We’ll See, comes from the otherwise very articulate Ms. Karnes when asked about the progression of her work, as in what’s next.  Lucy Phenix captures Ms. Karnes vividly, with the help of exquisite photography by Alan Dater, and provides us with an enlightening view into the creative process.

Lucy speaks about this film in a YouTube video. Check the interview and all of Lucy's works

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