After expanding the possibilities of the documentary format in 1988’s “The Thin Blue Line,” Errol Morris has spent his career making movies about whatever subjects happen to interested him. Sometimes that means governmental officials with a dark legacy — his 2003 documentary about former Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, “The Fog Of War,” famously won the Academy Award that year — but just as often, Morris is drawn to shine a light on lesser-known stories. Morris has described his television series 2000 series “First Person,” a series of interviews with people featuring his trademark recreations, as an opportunity to do “lots of things I’d wanted to do for a long time,” though he also admitted that he had “such a backlog” of unfinished projects.
Well, now there’s one less. Today’s trailer for “The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography” is the latest film to be directed by Morris, covering the life and times of the famous photographer. The film debuted at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival, with critics calling it a “a gentle-hearted gem” (Variety) as well as a “stylistic departure for the famously rigorous filmmaker” (Screen International).
Here’s the full synopsis for the film:
Portrait photographer Elsa Dorfman found her medium in 1980: the larger-than-life Polaroid Land 20×24 camera. For the next thirty-five years she captured the “surfaces” of those who visit her Cambridge, Massachusetts studio: families, Beat poets, rock stars, and Harvard notables. As pictures begin to fade and her retirement looms, Dorfman gives Errol Morris an inside tour of her backyard archive.
The film has been picked up for distribution by Neon and will hit select theaters this summer.