March 6, 2020

10 Arts and Culture Films to See at Salem Film Fest 2020

by joeyphoenix

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Cover Photo – Imitating Life: The Audacity Of Suzanne Heintz

UPDATE – Salem Film Fest 2020 has been postponed indefinitely.

Salem Film Fest 2020 is from March 20-29 and will screen more than 70 documentaries from filmmakers all over the world. The festival is one of the nation’s largest documentary film festivals and in addition to the screenings themselves features special events, live music from local artists, and Q&A’s with the documentary filmmakers themselves. 

Here are 10 Arts and Culture films to check out at the 2020 Salem Film Fest. Click here to view the full schedule of films and events. 

Martin Margiela: In His Own Words – PEM Curator Q&A Follows Screening 

A rare profile of Martin Margiela, one of the most revolutionary and influential fashion designers of his time. From Jean Paul Gaultier’s assistant to creative director at Hermes to leading his own brand, Margiela never showed his face publicly but reinvented fashion with his radical style for over 20 years, through 41 provocative collections. For the first time, the “Banksy of fashion” reveals his drawings, notes and personal items to give viewers an exclusive peek at his vision and career.

City Dreamers – Discussion with Local Architects Following Screening

Discover four trailblazing female architects who have been observing and designing urban environments over 70 years: Phyllis Lambert, Blanche Lemco van Ginkel, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, and Denise Scott Brown. The Seagram Building in New York, Old Montreal, and the concept of green roofs exist because of these exceptional women. In the course of their inspiring careers, they left an indelible mark on several cities across North America and Europe. They worked with the likes of Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn, and Robert Venturi to shape cities of today and tomorrow.


Maverick Agnes “Aggie” Gund—heiress, art collector and philanthropist—sold Roy Lichtenstein’s Masterpiece for $165 million in 2017 to start the Art for Justice Fund, which aims to reduce mass incarceration in the United States. The internationally recognized supporter of marginalized artists, particularly women and people of color, was motivated by recent police shootings of unarmed teenagers and concern for her six African American grandchildren. Filmmaker Catherine Gund focuses on her mother’s life journey to give viewers an understanding of the power of art to transform consciousness and inspire social change.

The Changin’ Times Of Ike White

Released in 1974, “Changin’ Times” was the first ever commercial album recorded inside an American prison. The artist was Ike White, a music prodigy, locked up inside from the age of 19, serving life for murder. Adulation from the music world, including Stevie Wonder, led to a campaign to free White from prison which resulted in his release. But then he disappeared. More than 40 years later, Director Dan Vernon tracks down the elusive musician following a twisting journey of multiple lives lived under several false identities.

Our Time Machine – Filmmaker Q&A Follows Screening 

When 43-year-old Maleonn, one of China’s most influential conceptual artists, realizes his father, theatrical director Ma Ke, suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, Maleonn races against time pouring everything into an ambitious new theater project. “Papa’s Time Machine” is a visually stunning time travel adventure told with life-size puppets. At the play’s heart are autobiographical scenes Maleonn hopes will bring father and son together artistically and personally. As Ma Ke’s condition deteriorates, Maleonn is torn between the original goal to honor his father and the pressure to achieve commercial success.

Stevenson: Lost And Found – Filmmaker Q&A Follows Screening

A humorous writer and artist, James Stevenson, was one of The New Yorker’s most prolific cartoonists—and arguably the most beloved. This biopic unearths a dazzling volume of work and a whimsical yet incisive chronicle of its time, while facing the struggles of the artist and those who love him. A bittersweet romp through the stellar, 67-year career of a remarkable artist.

Imitating Life: The Audacity Of Suzanne Heintz – Film Subject Q&A Follows Screening

Suzanne Heintz, a ‘loud-mouthed’ girl from Yonkers, embarks on a strange and entertaining 15-year global photographic crusade to challenge persisting stereotypes about women’s roles and lives. With her provocative eye, sharp sense of humor, and feminist’s soul, she creates glamorous portraits of mid-20th century domestic bliss by placing herself at the center of scenes where she is the perfect wife and mother of a meticulously dressed mannequin family. When social media catapults interest in work, Heintz’s resilience is put to the test.

Actually, Iconic: Richard Estes – Filmmaker Q&A Following Screening 

Richard Estes has been called the “father of photorealism” due to his hyperrealistic paintings. He has humbly avoided media attention over his long career, yet is admired by artists ranging from Salvador Dali to Chuck Close. ACTUALLY, ICONIC: RICHARD ESTES invites viewers into Estes’ world with unprecedented access to the artist and his masterpieces. Through detailed discussions of his technique and inspirations and interviews with leading curators and critics, this delicate portrait does more than just explore Estes’ pioneering genius—it humanizes it.

Ara Malikian: A Life Among Strings

Ara Malikian, a multifaceted violinist of Lebanese origin and Armenian roots, left Beirut when he was only 14 years old to escape the violence of civil war. Against the backdrop of his latest international “Symphonic Tour,” ARA MALIKIAN: A LIFE AMONG STRINGS chronicles the musician’s personal journey and his career in classical and contemporary music. Malikian has toured in over 40 countries on 5 continents, recorded more than 30 albums, performing all music genres—from Bach to Led Zeppelin—with multiculturalism as his calling card.

The New Bauhaus

Often referred to as the “genius of all media,” László Moholy-Nagy worked in painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, film, typography, product design, and exhibition design. A faculty member of the Bauhaus in Germany, he left in 1934 after the Nazi regime shuttered the school. Settling in Chicago in 1937, he opened The New Bauhaus, forever transforming arts education in America and beyond. By drawing extensively on personal archives and interviews, THE NEW BAUHAUS creates an intimate portrait of this early champion of human-centered design and his enduring influence on American art, design, and culture.

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