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Photography and Film Intersections: Laura Israel Presents Robert Frank March 23, 2016

By Marian Luntz
Tags: mfah, classic-films, laura-israel, dont-blink-robert-frank, life-raft-earth

Houston film and photography aficionados have something exciting to look forward to: the visit of Laura Israel on April 8 and 9. The go-to editor for New York’s film and music-video producers for years, Israel has maintained an active, parallel career working closely with Robert Frank, the legendary photographer and filmmaker. Frank, 91, initially recruited her to edit music videos he directed for Patti Smith and New Order. Over the years, his relationship with Israel has evolved into a true collaboration.

Who better, then, to persuade the notoriously reclusive photographer to cooperate for a late-career documentary than Israel? The result—her film Don’t Blink - Robert Frank—had its world premiere at the New York Film Festival last fall, inspiring critical accolades, such as this from Slant Magazine: “Like the work it illuminates, the doc feels formally impeccable yet utterly unstaged, a vivid distillation of a distinct and precious life.”

Don’t Blink is currently experiencing success on the international film festival circuit, where it has been an audience favorite. Israel’s presentation of her film at the MFAH on Friday, April 8, is the documentary’s first non-festival public screening. A theatrical release is planned for later in the year.

The MFAH has also enjoyed a longtime involvement with Frank, serving since the mid-1980s as the repository and distributor of his films. On Saturday, April 9, Israel introduces a rarely screened film by Frank: the 1969 short Life-Raft Earth, presented in a newly restored 16mm print funded by a grant the Museum received from the National Film Preservation Foundation. This true time capsule, which captures the spirit of 1960s activism, documents a San Francisco protest against global hunger. Among the participants are icons Wavy Gravy, perhaps best known as a Woodstock emcee, and Whole Earth Catalog publisher Stewart Brand, who has more recently reinvented himself on the TED circuit. Life-Raft Earth launches the Museum’s FotoFest film series responding to the themes of the FotoFest 2016 Biennial, Changing Circumstances: Looking at the Future of the Planet.

Join Laura Israel for “Don’t Blink - Robert Frank” on April 8 and for “Life-Raft Earth” on April 9.