Thursday, July 1, 2010

Joan Rivers Documentary

Opening at the Little Theatre in downtown Rochester this weekend is JOAN RIVERS: A PIECE OF WORK, one of my favorite documentaries from my film festival travels this season.
A couple of filmmakers, Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg, followed the comedian for a year giving the audiences a look at the life and career of a truly hardworking woman. Today, most people know Joan if at all as an almost caricature-like poster child of plastic surgery and for her borderline tasteless jokes thrown at celebrities during red-carpet events. This film reveals a businesswoman who needs to, almost pathologically, keep her calendar booked with comedy gigs and such to maintain her lavish NYC lifestyle and to support her staff and dependents. Most importantly, the documentary shows us, the viewers, a very funny woman -- from her humble beginnings as a struggling act whose "revolutionary" writing and comedy style paved the way for the likes of Roseanne Barr and Kathy Griffin, up to her triumphant success as a reality star in Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice." But beyond the laughter, we are introduced to a complex and interesting human being. I truly cried and laughed when I saw this film in Toronto a couple of months ago. And she totally gained my utmost respect.
The film premiered at Sundance last January. Since then, it has screened at various international film festivals. While technically not a GLBT film, I seriously considered it for ImageOut 18. Our audiences would have truly enjoyed it. But now I'm glad that Rochester will get a chance to see it anyway. And I recommend you do.

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