Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sundance Films: Smash His Camera

Title: Smash His Camera
Director: Leon Gast
Website: no individual site, but click here for Sundance page

Summary: Paparazzi might be the norm in our celebrity-infested times, haphazardly snapping every movement of the rich and famous. Ron Galella, though, is the original paparazzo. He elevated the celebrity snapshot into art and, at 78, remains a stalwart in the business. Dogged in his quest to photograph celebrities in unguarded moments, he defines his passion for his work by the ups and downs of his career—documenting the parade of stars at a thriving Studio 54 and having the dubious honor of being sued by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (his favorite subject) and having his jaw broken by Marlon Brando. Leon Gast (When We Were Kings) masterfully profiles Galella and places him at the center of the debate about the First Amendment right to privacy. Galella’s work and tactics have their critics, but his influence is undeniable. In a career defined by perseverance, he has created some of the most lasting, iconic photographs of our times (Sundance).

Thoughts: I love a good villain turned hero story and any documentary with Leon Gast at the director’s helm is an instant classic in my book. No wonder Sundance awarded him with the director’s prize for domestic documentaries. Gast was masterful in his earlier work When We Were Kings and I can’t imagine him falling short in this work about the oldest paparazzi around. At the very least, it will be interesting to see how he paints one of the most despised professions in the world.

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