AIFF: Running down the documentaries

The documentary film “Between the Folds” is breathtaking. Think of it: artists, scientists, mathematicians, seemingly eccentrics all, have devoted their lives to origami, meaning folding squares of paper and thereby creating metamorphic art, often luminescent as light bends and penetrates softly diaphanous surfaces, each piece conveying an ever-present tension between technique and emotion.

Are there physical limitations to what can be done with a single sheet of paper, allowing no cuts and no additions? The answer is explored as math, music, algebra, sculpture, engineering and number theory are melded in the search of new and more intricate and complex folds that seem to liberate the paper and transform it into shapes that are unexpectedly intricate as well as elegantly simple and achingly beautiful.

Vanessa Gould, the director, writer and producer of “Between the Folds” has, in a sense, taken film and created her own origami, finding meaning and beauty in what would seem, at first blush, to be a rather straight-forward if even pedestrian art form. Not even close. This is filmmaking at its most wondrous about a medium that is transformative. She has taken an art form and the people who create it and fashioned her own captivating series of folds.

Related Stories
AIFF: Family Shorts and All Ages Docs & Shorts
‘David McCullough: Painting with Words’

Directed by Mark Herzog, “David McCullough: Painting with Words” is an intimate look at the life of a man who is both artist and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, a man who has a penetrating curiosity about the past while embracing life with an enthusiasm that is infectious.

The film takes viewers into David McCullough’s life as he paints and sings and writes and shares his enthusiasm for all that gives him joy, especially his wife of 54 years, Rose.

How much life can any of us fit into our time here? How much can we find that makes us unequivocally laugh? Can we find work that strips away time? McCullough is one of those rare individuals who can simultaneously sit in his diminutive studio and share his absolute love of writing, of finding passion in the past, and later sit in a lawn chair with watercolors at hand and sketch and paint with great affection a portrait of his wife. This is a surprising and life affirming film.

‘In a Dream’

Here is what good documentary filmmaking can do: it can reveal, with bare-knuckles honesty, the life of a human being, one such as Isaiah Zagar. It can reveal a man who has pursued, with single-mindedness, a dream of covering endless walls, exterior and interior — some 50,000 square feet of stucco and concrete — with mosaics of tiles and mirrors and found objects, drawings and bottles and sculptures, all of which, in the aggregate, chronicle the 42 years that he has shared with his wife, Julia, and their two sons.

This is a surprisingly interesting and at times harshly intimate film, shot over a decade, beginning in 1999. There are moments of honesty and revelation and yet Jeremiah Zagar, Isaiah’s son and director, never flinches; rather, he holds the camera steady and tightens the shot as if looking for more honesty than his father is prepared to disclose. Whether the film crosses the boundary of privacy is certainly part of the subtext of this fine film. Do we learn more about Isaiah that we wish? Is there an aspect of voyeurism to films that burrow into the intimate foibles and passions of individuals? It’s a question posed by the film and left up to the audience to answer.

Morning Brief Newsletter
Sign up today for our daily newsletter, a quick overview of top local stories and Oregon breaking news delivered directly to your inbox
You can unsubscribe at any time

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.