In this touchingly intimate, unauthorized portrait of the great American photographer and filmmaker Robert Frank, director Gerald Fox takes the viewer deep inside the artist's personal and creative life. This fascinating journey is woven around on-camera interviews in which Frank bares perhaps more than he intended. Yet one leaves the film with the feeling that Fox has managed to communicate something important about the real man behind the artist. Though he was born in Zurich in 1924, Frank has since become a consummate New Yorker after moving to Manhattan in 1947. To demonstrate this, Fox shows Frank shuffling around an empty lot, unshaven and wryly inveighing against the yuppies who've invaded his once bohemian territory. With his second wife, the amiable sculptress June Leaf, he lives between his Greenwich Village apartment and a house in the wilds of Nova Scotia. His career as a photographer is recalled in his startling portraits of American working-class folk, Welsh coal miners, and London bankers in their top hats. The strength and sensitivity of these extraordinary photographs almost leaps off the screen. Representing Frank's film work are excerpts from his seminal 1959 Pull My Daisy codirected with Alfred Leslie (an improvisation on Jack Kerouac's play The Beat Generation) and Me and My Brother (1969) with Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso. Cocksucker Blues (1972) about the Rolling Stones was never commercially released because, says Frank, there was "too much Keith, too little Mick." The moving, final scenes touch on the personal tragedies the artist has faced over the years. As Frank sums it up, "It's not the pretty or the sweet life, but the real life I looked for and got."
Gerald Fox is a British arts documentary director who has made over 50 films about artists, writers, and directors from around the globe. His film about Gilbert and George won a BAFTA, a Royal Television Society Best Arts Film Award and the Grand Prize at the Festival of Films on Art in Montreal. His feature on Bret Easton Ellis was released theatrically in America in 2001. Fox also directed an award-winning film on AIDS in South Africa, as well as a low-budget comedy and a television drama. His documentary feature Leaving Home Coming Home: A Portrait of Robert Frank recently won a FIFA in Montreal, the RTS Award and The Grierson Award for Best Arts Documentary 2005. Fox is currently planning two feature films set in South Africa and working on a documentary about American video artist Bill Viola.